By Tom Eisenhaur and Steve Smith
• Make sure your event has the power it needs
• Know your audience
• Produce once; reuse often
Even the savviest meeting planners can’t always keep up with the latest in technology, so it’s critical that an audiovisual team have great communication and organizational skills to help understand the underlying importance of quality AV. In today’s media-obsessed culture, good AV can mean the difference between a dull attendee experience and one that engages and excites the audience.
The AV team needs to be involved in the planning process about 4-6 months prior to the event. That’s the sweet spot, where the creative is usually finalized, and it gives the team plenty of time to design the best technical solution for the project. Meeting planners can kick off cost savings by having a discovery meeting with the production team early in the planning process. The sooner the AV team can be brought in, the better, in terms of outlining a scope of work and creating and sticking to a budget.
But clients have a knack for creating last minute changes – and we’ve seen it all. The trick is to think through the things that
could change at the last minute and prepare for them. Do a “premortem” instead of a post-mortem; be prepared for the kooky and
unexpected things that can and will happen.
Know Your Audience
AV needs for a small business meeting can range from a basic show package with a camera, screens, lighting, and mics to a multi-media extravaganza – multiple screens, two or more cameras, and special effects. The key to planning the AV is understanding
the meeting objective. Is it to recruit potential distributors or launch a new product? Or is it to give a state-of-the-industry presentation to shareholders and employees? The AV presentation sets the tone, look, and energy of a meeting. Too much of an
extravaganza for certain audiences can be perceived as an unnecessary expense; while a bare bones presentation can be perceived
as amateur and disappointing.
To Skype or Not to Skype?
It’s common for meeting planners to have to include speakers who are not on location. Options include bringing in a satellite
truck or utilizing Skype or FaceTime. Satellite trucks can be costly, weather dependent, and even denied entry depending on the venue’s clearance for the antenna. Internet options also have their drawbacks, including delays and awkward moments of buffering due to maxed out bandwidth or service provider issues. What’s the best option? Consider sending an AV crew to tape
the presenters in advance. Typically the taping will take a few hours, and including the cost of time and travel, generally is more
cost effective when compared to a failed satellite or Internet feed. Yikes.
Promote the Power of AV
In this visual world it’s essential to help clients understand the value of a powerfully delivered message. The larger the venue and the audience, the deeper the presentation has to go. At most large shows, two cameras are needed from a production standpoint.
Single camera shots can’t create the visual excitement that a two camera cut-away can. A second camera allows for audience scanning, which keeps the audience engaged and can even provide some laughs. The stage presenter(s) image should be magnified on screens on either side of them and staggered throughout the venue. Make sure your client understands that the show’s production has to mimic the energy of a TV show or movie, as the eyes of the audience will be on the screens, not on
the stage. Take a lesson from today’s mega churches, which use AV spectacularly to communicate their message.
Maximize the Investment
One of the most financially responsible ways to leverage an AV budget is to build a plan to repurpose as much content as possible
leading up to or following the event. Meet with the client’s marketing and PR staff to brainstorm how the meeting’s presentation
can be used for strategic purposes: presentations to clients, training materials for employees, video brochures, vignettes for
websites and intranets, institutional archives, bylined articles for trade publications, and social media content.
The more you plan for ahead of time, the more cost-effective your plan will be. Visit The Basics of AV Planning for information on the importance of a detailed discovery meeting with your AV provider and a detailed scope of services.
Tom Eisenhaur is Director of Meetings, Events, and Project Management, and Steve Smith is Director of Production at Switch.
Switch: Liberate Your Brand is an independently-held experiential marketing agency that activates one-on-one human connections for all levels of brands – from Fortune 500 companies to aspiring start-ups – leveraging meaningful engagement to drive behavior-changing results. Switch specializes in brand and sponsorship activation programs, field marketing, digital media, consumer, and corporate events. For more information, visit www.liberateyourbrand.com.