The Essential Audio Visual Checklist for Planners that Are Afraid of Technology

We’ve all been there. Everything about your event has fallen perfectly into place until you get that dreaded tap on the shoulder. “The video won’t show up on the screen.” Before you can handle this blow, another person rushes in your direction. “None of the microphones work.” Sound familiar? 

Today’s event managers frequently delve into areas outside their job description. Not only are they involved in the design, communications and marketing, and catering decisions, we also have to be experts in A/V technology.

While each of these aspects are fundamental, the biggest headaches almost always come from A/V problems. Because of how specialized and complex today’s A/V tech is, and the jargon that comes along with it, miscommunication between an AV team and event staff is inevitable. Understanding basic terminology is key to ensuring catastrophes like a washed out stage, a blank screen, and missing sound never happen.

Use this simple audio visual checklist, to ensure that you’re communicating well and asking your a/v provider all the right questions. By the end of this post, not only will you understand how commonly used equipment works, you will be able to make sense of a quote and negotiate the best AV requirements for your function.

1. Mixer / Sound Board

Have more than one microphone in the same room? To balance the sound, control feedback, and adjust volume levels on microphones, your a/v team will be using a mixer or sound board. These electronic consoles manipulate and combine audio signals before routing them to your speakers. Be sure your A/V team knows exactly how many speakers will need microphones. 

What if your event also requires additional microphones for audience questions? Then, make sure your mixer has enough channels. Pro tip: To ensure presenters on stage will hear questions from the audience, you may want to consult your A/V technician about installing monitor speakers.

2. Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the ratio between the width and the height of a screen. The two most common ratios are 16:9, which are High Definition screens (also called widescreens) and 4:3, which are Standard Definition screens. This is usually a problem that planners run into when speakers create their own presentations. These days, widescreen is a more common standard. Make sure speakers are submitting slides that fit the 16:9 aspect ratio. 

While your budget will dictate which screen you choose, remember to have your guest speakers format presentations accordingly.

3. Projectors

The type of projector you select depends on your event. Are you showing PowerPoint presentations or videos? Will you need to stream a speech or interview?

For presentations, a brighter projector is generally better since it ensures good visibility. Always consider the amount of natural light, however. If a room has a lot of windows you will need an even brighter projector to ensure that everything is easily visible. As for streaming content, rear screen projection might be the solution for you since it provides better quality visuals.

4. Microphones

Before selecting a microphone, ask yourself these questions.

  1. For what will the mic be used?
  2. Will it stay in one place?

If one speaker needs a mic and will stand in the same place, go wired. But, what if your speaker intends to take questions from the audience? A handheld wireless mic will ensure ease of movement. Consider using a CatchBox microphone to make Q&A even easier. It makes for a more interactive experience and easily integrates with most mixers. 

Delivering a presentation and need your hands-free? Choose lavalier, a small microphone that easily clips on an earpiece or on clothing like a collar, tie or belt. 

Last, a wireless microphone needs a transmitter to send audio signals through radio waves. For lavalier or headset microphones, a bodypack transmitter will do the trick – it can be mounted on clothing or fit inside a pocket.

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5. Bandwidth

Does your event have to support multiple devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets? If you answered yes, then you may need more bandwidth.

That’s because bandwidth dictates how much information your internet connection can handle in a given period of time. Imagine water flowing through a pipe – too much water and the pipe could burst. So, what does this mean for you?

More bandwidth means more consistent upload and download speeds. It means uninterrupted streaming. And, most importantly, it will prevent the internet from crashing. Consider how many internet connected device we use every day. If your event has 100 attendees, but they’re each bringing a laptop, a smartphone ,and a tablet, you’ll need to allocate enough bandwidth for more than 300 devices. 

6. Frequency Band

Simply put, a frequency band is a band of continuous frequencies that travels between two limits and transmits radio and television signals.

Every electronic device like wireless microphones, tablets, smartphones, laptops, and projectors emit signals at a particular frequency so make sure your microphone does not have to compete. Otherwise, you’ll hear screeching, which is fun for no one.

7. Transmitters and Receivers

Planning an event with live streaming? Or, need wireless microphones for your keynote speakers?

To avoid pesky wires in the middle of the floor, you will need a transmitter and receiver.These devices work in tandem and help transmit AV signals through radio waves to projectors and speakers across the room.

8. Adapters and Dongles 

Are you speakers presenting from their own laptops? Do any of them need to be plugged into a projector? Then it’s a good idea to have several adapters on hand.

The simple reason is that most computers don’t HDMI outlets. HDMI is what allows you to connect your computer to your TV to watch things like Netflix, but they can also save your events from a potential A/V disaster.

You don’t need to be as fluent as your technician but knowing how things work will improve your ability to identify your AV needs, and manage your budget.

Don’t forget, as Sasha Vasilyuk, co-founder of Sandbox Suites writes for Eventbrite, to test out equipment before your event as it’s the “one thing that’s always prone to funkiness.” Every event is different, which means each one has different AV requirements, so if you’ve worked with equipment not mentioned here, feel free to write about them in the comments. 

If you found the information helpful, share it with your colleagues. Or join us on twitter @socialtables and share your A/V tips with us. 

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