As an event planner, you know the value of a well-planned audio-visual setup. Some of you might have had speakers coming a long distance to share a presentation with your attendees, only then to discover that their presentation was not compatible with the equipment you had arranged — or worse, the screens and projectors weren’t connecting with the laptop they brought along with them! To avoid this from happening at your events, Azavista has compiled a list of top 10 mistakes made by event planners when arranging AV.
1. Mismatching the aspect ratio of your visual equipment and your content
Nothing is worse than seeing a presentation with two fat black lines on the side of the screen, or as it is also referred to “letterboxing”. The most common options are “widescreen” (16:9 aspect ratio) or “four-three”(4:3 aspect ratio). Keep this in mind when ordering your equipment and do not forget to share the information with your presenters – this way they can make sure that they also consider your formatting in their presentations.
2. Assuming power is included in the costs at your venue
In many hotels they may charge you extra to supply power during your event. To different venues, power may mean different things, to some it might refer to larger power supply requirements where they would have to facilitate your power consumption by leasing new power sources, while with other venues power costs may simply refer to your need to ‘plug in’ your equipment – so be sure to ask!
3. Not counting the number of audio inputs you will need
When planning a larger event, it is possible to lose track of the number of audio sources you will use during your event. A lot of sound mixer boards have a limited number of input sources available, so be sure to count accurately and plan well ahead in advance – you don’t want to end up having to find a new sound board at the last minute because you forgot one or two additional microphone sources.
4. Not counting the number of visual inputs you will need
Just as with the sound boards, you need to bear in mind that video source switchers also have a limited number of inputs available. Also, if you plan on having back-up sources, you need to be sure to add those along with your calculations. You will need inputs for your speakers’ presentations, back-up presentations and possibly videos that you intend to show at your event – so be sure to think of all the possibilities; the devil is in the details!
5. Not counting how many display outputs you will need
In recent years, the number of outputs that are required to run on video source has increased – this is also something that you will need to take into account while planning your event AV. Whether you want to stream the same video content on all screens at your event or you would rather stream different content on multiple screens – the output numbers will add up and you have to be sure to keep track of them to avoid any last minute hiccups.
6. Not considering the availability of “rigging points”
Here rigging points refers to venue-approved places on the ceiling from which you can hang your equipment. This, as with many things, may result in you having to pay additional costs for these rigging points – so make sure that you ask about this in advance and before you sign any contracts!
7. Not looking further than the in-house AV offered by your venue
At times, working with the in-house AV of the venue can be quite successful. Not only is it convenient, but they also know their space well and can help you ensure that you get the best quality for your money (and of course, if you need any ‘last minute’ equipment, it’s likely that they have inventory at the venue). This said though, it is best practice to get a quote from an external AV supplier prior to signing any contracts, since it will enable you to negotiate and compare both options to get an overview of the exact costs. Be aware though, some venues might charge you certain fees if you choose external suppliers as opposed to the in-house AV.
8. ‘Skimping’ on the audio setup
Oftentimes, the audio quality is one of the least thought about element at events – but sound can affect our audience on a very personal (and subconscious) level. It is very exhausting to spend an hour, straining to listen to a speaker due to poor sound quality and often, the audience will not recall much of the presentation after that. Be sure to test out your sound well in advance so that you can be sure that the sound will reach all members of your audience (not too loud, not too soft… just right). Do bear in mind that though not everyone notices impeccable audio – we all notice (and remember) poor audio – so put in a little extra effort on this one!
9. Not taking into account set-up and tear-down time
Underestimating the costs of needing extra set-up and tear-down time can be quite shocking and, of course, pricey. For this reason, be sure to book enough time at your venue prior to and after your event so that you don’t have to be surprised by unexpected costs. Don’t assume that the venue will give you this extra time – ask well in advance and make sure that you have all your bases covered!
10. Trying to cut minor costs which could result in potential failures
We all know that event budgets can be some of the saddest things in the world, but this doesn’t mean that you should neglect things that might come back to haunt you during your event. An example of such a minor cost would probably be microphones. It has happened so many times where an event planner had hoped to save some money by investing in only one or two wireless mics. Of course, the need for mics would depend on the number of speakers you have scheduled and how large your audience size is – just bear in mind that using only one or two mics in a large space leaves much room to human error. People might accidentally turn off microphones or (worse) the mic cable might get unplugged. So just consider the risk in cutting minor costs during your planning process – you don’t want to make a decision you will later come to regret.