A version of this post was published at Systems Contractor News (www.avnetwork.com)
The Takeaway: Yes, I am starting backward, but I think you need to hear this. You’ve heard it before but, like moving a big machine, our industry takes time to adjust and seems to need some coaxing from time to time. Here it is: we are very poor educators, marketers and ambassadors. Wait, let me clarify that before you jump to the comments section to defend why we have some of the best cheerleaders of any industry (you rabble-rousers know who you are)…
I was given the privilege of presenting, as an NSCA Ignite! Ambassador (learn more here), to two high school business classes- a total of about 40 students. These classes include mostly junior and senior students. They are the students that COULD alleviate industry wide hiring challenges. Yes, some of them mentioned they want to be a chef, fashion designer, or hospitality manager. So I spent a bit of time explaining how technology impacts each of those seemingly non-related fields because, overall, they are a group we know we should be targeting.
Not surprisingly, when asked what audiovisual and commercial technology meant to them, the three top answers were:
- Face time
Don’t kill the messenger- I can show you the supportive feedback reports I received from the students.
This, however, very well set the stage and gave me an opportunity to blow their minds with what AV is, what it touches and how seamlessly integrated it is in their lives- so much that they don’t even realize that there is an entire industry- or combination of industries- that make it all happen! We are truly the wizards behind the curtain. (Don’t use that statement when talking to them- they may not understand the allusion and you will feel defeated before you begin.)
AV is in stealth mode.
It is time to break out, because we need people. We need young, bright, passionate people to help keep the industry moving forward and diversify and strengthen our technologies, companies (and reputation.) We are a close-knit industry that loves podcasts- at last count I think we have about 2 and a half thousand, blogs, training videos and publications. We love to talk to ourselves. We love to educate each other. And we love to peacock for our colleagues.
Imagine what would happen if we learned how to flip that dialogue to the “outside world.” The most impactful moments during my discussion with the students were sparked by pictures. I showed them a picture of an interactive exhibit at a museum, a baseball stadium, a super bowl halftime show, distance learning classrooms, dynamic art, broadcast studios, control rooms, etc. They soaked it in. In fact, we spent the most time discussing how the (very high-end) distance learning classrooms work. Why? That’s the world they know; the world they are familiar with.
If you are able to harness the moment when your worlds collide, expanding the discussion is natural. Students asked, “You mean it’s like Face time for school?” “Sure,” I said, “let’s start there.”