AV for the win!

Companies big and small struggle with setting up meetings with their remote offices. Meetings seldom start on time, costing the company money, productivity, and morale. Here’s where you come in!

Global companies have existed for centuries, so you’d think at this point we’d have gotten something as basic as setting up meetings down pat.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Meetings between two (or more) locations routinely start late due to audio/visual issues. It’s even worse when two unrelated companies try to have a video meeting with each other. They might use a different AV system, have firewall rules in place that block the other’s system, or there may be a lack of understanding of how the systems work (or don’t work) together by the techs facilitating the meeting.

AV is a logistical nightmare.

That’s why the start of most meetings begin with the presenter saying: “Can everyone hear me?” Think about it: when you place a regular phone call and the other person picks up, you just start talking. You assume the other person can hear you because phones are that reliable. We’re just not there yet with audio/visual meeting systems.

This can work to your advantage if you put in the work to become the go-to person for meeting setups at your workplace.

As soon as you’ve started your first help desk job, the first thing I recommend you learning backwards and forwards is how to work the AV system. In fact, I want you to become the AV expert at your company. In the working world, there is nothing quite as visible as the way someone sets up a meeting. Everyone in the company attends meetings, so your skill (or lack thereof) will be observed by everyone from the CEO to the intern.

In companies where there’s a team of IT Support Specialists, most of them will want to do stuff that’s sexier than AV support. Hey, I get it: AV support is stressful. Everyone’s staring at you waiting for you to do your thing so their meeting can start. To this day, I still think AV setups are the most stressful thing I’ve done in my IT career. On top of that, it’s not even pure IT work, really. You’re plugging in a few cables and working with sound equipment. This is probably not what you signed up for when you got into IT.

But don’t make the mistake of trying to avoid it! I want you to lean into this work instead.

Say that there are three help deskers at Acme Company: Jack, Jill, and John. To keep things simple, let’s say they all have similar knowledge, seniority, and experience. The only real difference between them is that whenever there’s a meeting setup to be done, Jill volunteers to handle it. This suits Jack and John just fine because they hate doing AV work. They feel they’re learning a lot more by focusing their efforts in engaging with Systems Administrators and helping out with real IT work.

Over the next few months, Jill will quickly become known as the go-to person for meeting setups. When she sets them up, you can be sure they start on time. Jill also took the time to read the manual for the AV system that Acme Company uses. She’s learned all the little tricks to make it more efficient, and when a problem comes up, she knows how to fix it. Reading the manual took less than fifteen minutes, but it’s really leveled up her AV game!

Since Jack and John only set meetings up when Jill’s unavailable, they take more time to figure things out. Where Jill’s competence and confidence is observed by the whole company, Jack and John can be seen fumbling about. Sure, they’re doing a lot of good work in other areas, but their lack in this basic help desk duty is very visible.

Roll this tape forward and see where it leads. By the six month mark, all the C suite folks (CEO, CIO, CFO) know Jill on a first name basis. After all, they’re the ones who have to attend the most meetings in the company. Heck, their days are basically a string of meetings upon meetings and their time is very valuable. Who do you think they ask for by name to get their meetings going on time?

When review season rolls around, all the managers will sit around a table and discuss who’s getting raises and promotions. When the CEO gives a glowing review of how invaluable Jill has been and the CIO heartily agrees, who do you think will get that raise? And if things have gotten tight, who is the last person they’ll lay off?

I know that AV work isn’t glamorous, and I also know first-hand how stressful it can be. But it is important work, and it can really give your career a boost if you put in the time to do it well.

Put the work into learning audio/visual setups now and it will pay dividends for the rest of your career.

With each post, I cover a new topic to help you get your start (or keep progressing) in your IT career with the ultimate goal of achieving financial independence. If it’s your first time visiting this blog, start here. Or, see all my posts about interview questions you should definitely be prepared for.