Embracing audiovisual technology for meetings and events.
Audiovisual (AV) technology can be a source of frustration and anxiety for many meeting and event professionals. Most understand that a certain amount of AV is necessary for their events, but many consider the technology a burden. I would suggest that implementing AV in the right way is not a burden, but something that should be embraced as one of the most critical elements of the event and possibly the simplest way to elevate the attendee experience.
The primary purpose of any event is communication, and the most basic function of AV technology is to be the vehicle that delivers the message to the audience. It really is that simple. This is why there are a few questions that should be asked before any event. Each of these questions may seem obvious, but they allow you to think through your communication objectives (and how they relate to AV) in a more direct way.
What is the most effective way to communicate your message and what technologies are necessary to do so?
This fundamental question is the most important. People learn in different ways. Some are visual learners, some learn by hearing, while others may need to record and review a message before it is absorbed. This is why it is critical to be sure that all of these needs are met. To answer this question you must think holistically about your content delivery. This includes how the content will be delivered by live presenters, video, audio and integrated mobile technologies.
As an example of considering how the methods of communication relate to AV technology in events, let’s think about live presentations. Do you want to have a very polished feel to the program? If so, you may want to have pre-recorded introductions with music for each presenter. If it is important to maintain a high energy level from the presenters you may not want to have a podium on stage thereby forcing the presenters to move around. For this you must have wireless microphones and perhaps confidence monitors for their notes. Will there be any interactivity? If so, what is the best way to achieve this? Placing Q&A microphones in the audience is one way, but with all of the new technology out there it seems a little archaic. Perhaps Q&A through Twitter™ or text messaging is a better solution. It really does depend on the group, but thinking through these options is always beneficial.
What technologies are not absolutely necessary, but would certainly enhance your message?
Now that the primary content vehicles were addressed with the first question, it’s time to step beyond the nuts and bolts of content delivery and think about how you can make the content both exciting and memorable. Nothing can do this better than creative use of technology. This may include interesting video content, use of lighting or creative audio production. These are just a few of the myriad choices available. It is certainly an exciting time to be in the meetings and events industry because there are so many tools and toys available to enhance your programs.
Of the optional technologies, where can you find the most value?
Most people aren’t producing a Super Bowl halftime show or the Grammy Awards so we are usually doing everything we can to stretch the budget. This is why it is important to think about all available technologies, decide which options will provide the most value and how to integrate them into the program in the most effective way.
Perhaps the best way to be sure you are finding real value for your AV budget is to develop a relationship with a trusted AV partner who’s fee is not based on how much you spend on technology. Think of this individual as a consultant who will always be looking out for your best interests. Someone who is not only making sure you don’t spend more than necessary on required equipment and labor, but can also suggest valuable ways to truly enhance your program without breaking the bank. If you are only relying on your technology suppliers to help you through this process you must remember that their needs may not always align with your needs.
Jay Ward, CTS Principal at Genesis Technical Production & Design, is committed to helping organizations in the event production industry thrive in such a competitive environment through an array of resources and services ranging from production management and operations to staging and digital content design.