Sound Bites: Don’t overlook the audio/visual elements of your event

When audio visual equipment is working right, no one notices—but when it’s not, it can ruin an entire event. We’ve all attended programs where the microphones didn’t work, the videos wouldn’t buffer or the sound system was inadequate for the size of the room. Once the audience disengages from the presentation, you’ve lost everything you’ve invested in your event.

Hiring the right AV specialist is worth the investment. Experienced technicians can make suggestions and offer advice that can take your presentation to the next level. Unseasoned event planners or companies trying to cut corners often make the mistake of cutting AV costs and usually end up with a mediocre event.

Webb Audio Visual has been in business for more than 60 years, evolving from carousel slideshow projectors to 8K resolution technology and touch screens. Scott Webb, vice-president of Webb Audio Visual, says one of the most important steps when planning an event is to be realistic about expectations and budget.

“AV prices are pretty even across the board,” he says, “but the things you’re paying extra for are the technicians and the experience of the company, and how they handle [events]. Set a budget with the AV company and they’ll give you the best solutions that fit in that budget.”

After years of event experience, Webb says he often sees the same mistakes and suggests organizers follow his advice so presentations go smoothly.

Know the dimensions of the room. Whether you chose the venue for the ambience, the location or the cost, AV should be one of the first thing considered. Don’t ask for the biggest screen the AV company has to offer if you’re working with a 10-foot ceiling. And select a sound system that will be loud enough for everyone to hear.

Have a technician at the event. This extra expense can save you from embarrassment if there’s a problem with the microphone or the PowerPoint presentation. There’s nothing worse for attendees than having to wait around while someone hunts down a person who can fix the AV components.

Allocate time for set-up and take-down. Webb says he’s been in situations where it’s taken his crew the entire day to set up for an event, only to be told they have an hour or two to take everything down. You might need to pay for an additional day at the venue if your event calls for extensive AV equipment.

Schedule time to rehearse. Even if you’ve done your presentation hundreds of times, the technician who will work with you needs to make sure slides, music and videos are coordinated, as well as check volume levels and microphones. “We want the person presenting and the technician to be on the same page.”

Provide content early. Get content to your AV company at least two or three days in advance so they can make sure it’s working correctly and ask any questions to ensure a good production.

Following these guidelines can make sure you keep the attention of the audience and provide them with the best experience.

“If someone goes to a corporate meeting and the room is too hot or the food isn’t great that’s one thing,” Webb says. “But if people can’t see or hear the message you’re putting out money to provide, your event is a failure.”