Building the Perfect Event: 10 Points to Discuss with Your AV Team
From weddings to conferences and fundraisers, event planning is hectic and challenging, demanding careful consideration of every detail and ‘what if’ scenario.
While food and entertainment garner much attention (who doesn’t like signature cocktails and cover bands?), effective communication with the AV team is often overlooked as a critical element of event success.
Why is communicating with the AV team so important? Let’s just say that every memorable event includes amazing sound and visuals, and good communication equals a great time.
To help in the communication process, we surveyed our staff asking them about the biggest challenges they face when working on an event. The result is 10 points to discuss with your AV team, from layout to music, providing a comprehensive roadmap on how to successfully work with your AV team.
By addressing these key factors early in the process, we hope to alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty (goodbye anxiety!) from the event planning process, ultimately leading to a smoother and more memorable experience for both clients and attendees.
Our recommendation? When talking to your AV team in the weeks prior to the event, pull up this checklist and review each of these questions via either phone or email.
10 Questions Your AV Team Wants Answered
Let’s dive into the 10 questions every AV team wants answered before an event.
1. The venue layout: Can you share the venue layout?
Most venues have a diagram or schematic that they share with their clients. Make sure to send this to your AV team. If you don’t have a diagram or schematic, be sure to answer the following questions:
- What are the room dimensions?
- What layout style will you have in the room and where will you be placing your tables? Common layouts include classroom, theater, U-shape, and banquet.
- Your projector options are determined by your screen size, the kind of media you will be displaying, and the ambient lighting in the room (seasons matter). Every projector has a unique distance that needs to be set away from the screen, called the throw distance. Make sure you discuss the throw distance with your AV team and your event planner. This detail might impact your seating arrangement!
2. The venue equipment: What is the venue like and what equipment do they provide?
Giving your AV team as much info as possible about the venue means that the AV techs can bring all the right equipment to your event. Some of the things you’ll want to tell your team are:
- What is the ambient light in the venue? This is important because if the venue is very bright, the AV team might need to bring projectors that are brighter! In contrast, if the room is very dark, lighting may need to be brought in for the tech table so the AV team can follow the run of show.
- What kind of in-house equipment can we utilize in the space? This includes built-in projectors, screens, sound systems, etc. Make sure you check with the venue on permissions and fees- just because it is in the room, doesn’t mean your outside AV team can access the equipment.
3. Tech table set-up: Where should the AV tech table be set -up?
Knowing where to set up our tech table and equipment is vital to ensuring that the event is configured by the start time.
One of our AV techs explains, “I can’t count how many times I’ve been 80% set up and taped down and a client walks in and asks me to move control to the other side of the room, which adds about an hour of work in some cases.”
When thinking about where the tech table should be set up, consider a location close to the stage with a direct line of sight. Why? Having a line of sight means that we can react fast and in real-time to what’s happening on stage. Otherwise, we may need additional equipment to see the stage, which can be more costly for the client. Therefore, setting up a tech table behind something like curtains is not ideal.
Remember, if there are cameras at the event, they also need to have a direct line of sight, so consider this in your venue layout.
4. Presentation media & equipment: What kind of presentation equipment and set-up will you need? (Ask your presenters these questions before the event!)
From slide shows to keynote speakers, some kind of presentation equipment is likely needed at all events.
First, it’s important to send AV teams all your media days ahead of the event (not the day of or the day before). This ensures that we can review specs and formatting so that the presentation looks amazing up on screen.
Second, having the right tools and set-up is crucial to a great presentation. As an event planner, make sure to ask your presenters for their media as well as the questions below.
- Will you be using your own laptop for your presentation? If so, what kind is it? We want to ensure we have all the right adaptors. AV companies can also bring their own laptop.
- Where do you want the laptop to be set up? Laptops can either be set up at the tech table or at the podium with the presenter. Some people like to click through their own slides from their laptops, but usually, we like them at the AV table so we can correct any issues., Especially if there are multiple kinds of media your AV tech needs to switch between.
- Will you need to use a remote to advance your slides?
- Do you need your presenter notes (or “Notes View”) displayed on a separate presenter screen?
- Does your presentation have sound? If so, what? We have to set up equipment differently if, for example, the presenter needs to play a video with sound.
- What other type of equipment will you be bringing? Make sure you tell your AV team what make and model the equipment is. If you are unsure, you can always send your AV team pictures of the equipment, and let the experts take care of it!
Want some pointers on how to create a winning presentation and avoid common AV presentation pitfalls? Read this.
5. Microphones: What types of microphones are requested?
Often, presenters or event planners will prefer a certain type of microphone. Make sure to ask your presenters ahead of time and notify your AV team. For more in-depth information and illustrations on microphones read our Feminist Guide to Presenting.
The most common types of microphones to choose from are:
Lav mic (“clip on mic”): A great option for people who need to be hands-free, but not great for people who move their head a lot. A lav mic requires the presenter to wear a belt pack.
Handheld mic: This is a wireless stick mic and is great for passing and sharing for panels and Q&A. When paired with a floor stand or tabletop stand, it is a great option when you have multiple presenters with different speaking styles as people can wander or stand still. It is also adjustable for different presenter heights.
Countryman headset: An over-the-ear mic that is great for theater or those who wear a Hijab. These capture sound better as they are fixated right next to your mouth but they may be distracting. If you’re interested in using these, ask your AV team about different colors as they come in multiple skin tones. This does require the presenter to wear a belt pack.
Podium mic (“Gooseneck”): These are always on and are usually a less expensive option. They don’t need to be attached to a person and are easy to adapt for different speaker heights. However, if your speaker is a “walker,” they won’t be able to present effectively. They also should not be used in close proximity to each other in panels or roundtables.
Push to Talk: These are similar to a podium mic, except you have to push the button to talk, like a walkie-talkie. These are great for panels and conferences where multiple people are talking, such as a panel and U-table layouts), as long as they remember to push the button. These are wired so they take some labor to set up and take down.
6. Streaming: Will there be a streaming component to your event?
We’ve often discussed the benefits of streaming an event from accessibility, to cost, to promotion. Having a streaming component to your event does add another layer of AV tech set-up. Therefore, telling your AV team ahead of time is essential.
We need to ensure that online attendees can hear and see all aspects of the event. If there is a virtual guest speaker, we also want to set up a two-way dialogue so that in-person attendees can ask questions and the virtual speaker can see and hear them.
If you are expecting to have a virtual, streaming component to your event, make sure to answer these questions for them:
- What kind of streaming platform will you use? Zoom, Teams, YouTube, Facebook, etc.
- Will there be a virtual guest speaker or presenter?
- What kind of experience do you want your virtual audience to have?
- What are the needs of your virtual audience? Do they need to be able to just hear the in-room presenters/ guests, or will they need to see them as well?
- If you envision your virtual guests communicating with your in-person audience, how would you like them to communicate with each other?
7. Music: What music would you like played?
Music is a part of every event (at least any fun event!). Whether it is background music while people enter, a cocktail hour, or a dance party, music plays an important part in setting the vibe.
One of our techs explains, “Sometimes clients will want background music and will expect me to just play songs I already know to be appropriate/fitting for the event. This is incredibly stressful because I have to closely maintain an improvised playlist on top of all the other audio needs for the event.”
Therefore, let your AV team know what type of music you’d like played. You can:
- Give them a curated playlist
- Choose a pre-determined playlist from a 3rd party like Spotify. The options are endless from curated artist radio playlists to playlists for different “vibes”, to genre playlists like our favorite, “Postmodern Jukebox.”
- You can always shuffle all songs by a specific artist as well.
If you’re unsure about what type of music you want to be played, just ask your AV team at your initial discovery call.
8. Videographer: Will there be a videographer coming?
Videographers often need a feed from our audio board. As an event planner, you can save your inbox by connecting the videographer directly with your AV team. That way we can ask all the boring and stressful tech questions, and you can focus on your event.
9. Set-up & Breakdown: What time is set-up and breakdown?
As we all know, timing is essential to an event. Therefore, answer the following questions so you and your AV team are on the same page:
- Are you planning on having a “hang-out” time after your event?
- Will there be designated networking time?
Remember, for safety, we want to break down after the room has been cleared.
10. Biggest Concerns: For events without an AV tech on-site, what are your biggest concerns and what would like to go over during our meet and greet?
If you are only renting equipment, we still want to ensure you have the best event possible. Therefore, tell your AV company what time you will be on-site and think through what questions you want to ask when we drop off the equipment. Some of the things you may want to walk through are:
- How to use the microphone
- How to use the mixer
- How and where to send audio and the laptop audio settings and in your meeting platform
- How and where to send video and the settings on your laptop and meeting platform
Reviewing these items beforehand will make it easier if we need to troubleshoot anything over the phone.
Build the perfect event
Communication is key to any successful relationship, even with your AV company. Discussing these 10 things will create a collaborative partnership that ensures a successful and (more) stress-free event. Building the perfect event is an art and we want to help you build a masterpiece.
We are your go-to resource for creating fabulous experiences, so reach out to us to discuss your next event.