An Insider's Guide to Corporate AV
Before I came to association management, I spent a few incredibly rewarding years working for an AV production company. I was fortunate to work for a wide variety of clients- country music stars, motorcycle clubs, all the way to the world of corporate AV.
In fact, when I first met my fiancé I attempted to win him over by fixing his frat house speaker system. I’m sure the reason he proposed is because of the unparalleled sound quality I provided him and his Delta Sigma Phi brothers. Go Hardrockers!
I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find those late nights and long days in AV still serve me well today in association management. Knowing the best questions to ask and having a basic understanding of AV can be helpful to anyone planning an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. I thought I’d share a few tips on how you can ensure your annual events’ operations run as smoothly as possible.
It’s a common misconception to believe that getting ahead of schedule or “done early” is a good thing. If your presenter wraps up 20 minutes early, your attendees might scatter and go grab a beer from the hotel bar with their extra time and end up skipping the next session. Staying within 5-10 minutes of your start/end times is always best.
Keep in mind – stuff happens. Maybe your moderator loses their voice the morning of, or catering is short-staffed and forgets to bring out coffee for your networking break. There are INFINITE ways your schedule can get derailed by 15 minutes or more. Experienced AV providers have seen it all (like, some really crazy stuff) and usually have a few tricks up their sleeves to get your attendees engaged with the presenter or prevent them from skipping the 3:00PM session.
An easy place to begin is walk-in music! Some AV providers will have this covered and will use their best judgement- just make sure to ask. If they don’t provide music, have a good idea of who your audience is and what they likely will enjoy listening to while strolling around the exhibitors’ booths. Patsy Cline will put Tim to sleep, but the Bee-Gees will make Barb sing along- and nobody wants that. Appropriate background music, even if it’s quiet, can keep attendees hanging around.
One common hang up I have seen that can cost valuable time: If your association or presenter has videos or a slide deck to run during a session, make sure your AV people have hands on it in advance. If they have time to run through the slides, they can test any audio or transitions and do a final check for formatting errors. Even today, the words “I have a YouTube video, you got that right?” haunt me. Keep a USB drive on you in case you need to rip something off your keynote speaker’s laptop, or you need to add a last-minute sponsors logo.
In summation, be prepared, be flexible, and communicate clearly. With all that said, why hire an AV company if you still must babysit them and make sure they’re prepared? This why it’s important to hire a reliable, reputable, experienced production company. How can you measure reliability? The initial consultation and quote will usually tell you everything you need to know. If the cost of labor seems way too high, it probably is. Everything you’re paying for should be itemized on the quote, hidden charges are a red flag. Trustworthy AV companies will have pictures of previous events they’ve produced that will reflect the quality of their work. Most importantly, trust your gut when hiring production! No one knows your association’s needs better than your event planning team.
If the nuances and pressure of event planning have been a challenge for your association, let NPR’s experienced team of management professionals take the load off your shoulders. To get the conversation started and learn about our full and partial services, contact NPR below!