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A series of articles about all facets of event planning with helpful hints, planning ideas, sample schedules and budgeting tips from the B&E Team.

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Audio Visual and What You Must Know

Planning for audio and visual equipment, lighting, and staging for your meeting or event is very important. Exciting new technologies like interactive computer use, live video enhancement of speakers, and teleconferencing have arrived, but the budgets that have arrived with them are steep. The type of AV support you will need for your meeting or event may be simple or more complex. Be sure to review all your options.

Audio Visual


  • Get a list of the speakers' needs well in advance of your event and schedule a rehearsal. You will avoid last-minute and rush labor charges this way.

  • Reserve times in your meeting room for set-up and rehearsal.

  • Give speakers a chance to rehearse with the equipment.

  • Test the equipment immediately prior to the beginning of the event.

  • Have spare bulbs and extra extension cords on hand.

  • Having a technician available to attend to your needs throughout the meeting may be your best insurance policy.

  • Many facilities have in-house equipment (check availability and working condition).

  • Remember that poor-quality AV equipment can ruin a meeting.


Reserve equipment early so you have what you need from a reputable company. If you have never worked with the company, ask for references and check them. This is an important part of the meeting. If one company is not able to meet your needs, look at other companies until your needs are met.

Negotiate all costs. Package deals are good for you and the rental companies. If they know your needs and have your timelines, it will be more cost effective.

Put your agreements and any subsequent changes in writing and write all instructions. Include agendas and room layouts so your vendors know exactly what you expect. This will eliminate surprises or the need for mind reading.

Save yourself headaches. If you are too busy doing the many other jobs needed for a meeting, seek out and use experienced production managers and technicians to oversee the AV portions of your event. Introduce yourself to the technicians who will be working your event, and find out how to contact them should the need arise.

Barter goods and services with your rental companies. They may want to advertise in your publications, exhibit at your trade show, or acquire leads from your attendees.

Guaranteed performance is often a policy of AV companies. They will compensate clients for rental costs in the event of equipment failure. Even better, many will provide on-site back-up.

AV supplied by venue: Many facilities have their own in-house AV department. Ask if any audio and visual equipment is included in your room charge, then be sure to check out the quality and age of the equipment.

Some facilities only provide a podium and microphone, so you may need to rent additional equipment from a qualified audio and visual rental company. Ask the hotel or venue for their recommendation for a reputable AV company. They may have these services available on-site or contract with an outside company.

Always do a run-through before your meeting or event starts. Make sure all the audio visual equipment is functioning correctly and that any visual presentations interface with the equipment.