Do you rely solely on your AV partners to specify their event’s audiovisual needs? Though most are reputable, vendors base their proposals off of inventory and, in some cases, what will be most profitable for them. Brush up on how to properly control your AV costs while taking into consideration the best tools for your event.
Many AV companies will add backup projectors into their proposal. Many will offer you a 50 percent discount to make it seem like a good deal. And many will also play off of your fear of projector issues to add more machines to your contract.
Projectors are getting better and better in quality. Should a projector fail, it is the AV company’s responsibility to replace it as quickly as possible. Many of the larger, general session projectors house more than one lamp; if one goes out, a second lamp is there as a backup.
Remember, AV providers have the same concerns you do: They don’t want projectors to fail because it looks bad on them. Wait until you are about to sign the agreement, then play off of their fears of how it will make them look if their equipment fails. In my experience, you can usually get them to throw in backup projectors for free. Remember, they don’t need a 1:1 ratio of backups, just a few on-site in case of failure.
There are many different routes you can take with conference audio. For your breakout sessions, patching the in-house sound system will usually suffice in terms of quality. If you are bringing in an outside AV provider, the patch fees might be exorbitant and not worth it. You should price out the cost and compare it to what it would cost for you to bring in a small speaker system. In most cases for breakout rooms, almost any quality sound system will be sufficient as long as you add enough speakers to accommodate the size of the audience.
Don’t assume anything. Unless you have substantial funds, you can likely get away with no added lighting in your breakout rooms. In the same regard, make sure you have what you need in your general session room for scenic lighting, uplights, etc.
You can save money without sacrificing additional tools that will help your conference run smoothly. A few extra, low-cost items you should have, especially for your general sessions, include: a large speaker timer to keep your keynotes on track; a slide advancer (like PerfectCue) to give your show caller flexibility in how they execute graphics; and a speaker confidence monitor for presenters to see their slides without having to turn their backs to the audience.
Scott Frankel is president of Animatic Media, an event production company offering agency-style services without the agency price tag. Animatic has produced thousands of events for clients of all sizes. Frankel is an innovator in the event technology business; in 2010, he started Conference-On-Demand, a leading platform for on-demand conference videos, as well as meetingleader.com—a content management, web registration and audience response web platform.