Here's a universal truth: It doesn't matter how flawless your event is; if the audio equipment or the projectors fail to work, you are in big trouble!
"I'll make sure everything will work", you may be thinking. Well, good luck with that. As Swarbrooke and Horner note in their book Business Travel and Tourism, failures of audiovisual equipment are one of the most common problems planners have to deal with when running an event. And there's just one thing you can do in these moments of despair: search for the audiovisual technician and hope for the best.
Needless to say, these incidents are uncontrollable and inevitable. However, if there are two things you can control, it's to correctly assess the audiovisual needs for your event and select a reliable supplier. You may not have the skills for sound system troubleshooting, but you can definitely evaluate and decide what audiovisual equipment you need for the event. Here are some tips on how you can do it.
Tip #1. Decide the type of audiovisual equipment you'll need
The format and the dynamics of your event dictate the audiovisual requirements you'll have to take into account. Do you anticipate a large turnout? This means a bigger venue, which implies a more powerful sound system. Do you have a Q&A session planned? If so, will you need microphones? Are you going to install screens? If so, how many and what size? Maybe you plan to livestream or record the event, or maybe you invited the press? Evaluate your event agenda and identify any moments and dynamics that may require audiovisual equipment.
Tip #2. Evaluate the in-house audiovisual services
Usually, when you rent a venue for your event, you also have access to its audiovisual system. But as Tony Rogers notes in his book Conferences and Conventions: A Global Industry, you should know if there's an in-house technical staff to operate the equipment, and if so, if they charge extra for this service.
Tip #3. Find out how the space reconfiguration will impact the audiovisual system
If you have to redesign the venue according to the event's requirements, find out first if this action will impact the installation of the audiovisual system. For example, say you want to change the location of the stage where the speakers will give their speeches. This can be a great decision. Yet, you have to take the venue’s features into account. What if the electrical system configuration will restrict the technicians and they won’t be able to (re)install the screen for the speakers to project their presentations?
Tip #4. Find out the needs of your guest speakers
This is important. As Tony Rogers highlights, "the appropriate use of audio-visual technology should be discussed with speakers, who will usually have their own ideas about how best to make their presentations." On the other hand, if it's possible, "speakers should participate in rehearsals, both to familiarize themselves with the room and technical equipment to be used."
Tip #5. Define a concrete way of engaging the attendees
Form throwable microphones to real-time audience polling, there are multiple ways to engage your guests. However, all these practices require different audiovisual equipment. If you decide to use live polls, you'll definitely need big screens for your audience to see the voting results. Align the audiovisual support of the event with your attendees’ needs. Also, be sure to provide them with a satisfactory engaging dynamic. This will determine their overall event experience.
Although you can’t control equipment failures, you can correctly assess your event’s audiovisual needs. This skill will help you understand the extent of your costs for the event and make you visualize the complexity of planning logistics. Also, don’t forget that with each event you organize, you’ll gain more experience and learn how to easily deal with any audiovisual-related issues that may occur.