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Event planners are often responsible for making countless decisions ranging from catering to entertainment, down to the smallest details such as place settings. Not only is the decision-making process stressful, but it can be a logistical nightmare dealing with all of the different companies and vendors for each service. In many cases, AV is the staple of an event for speeches, music, slideshows, videos and more. We believe that a reliable AV company should always make sure that you are fully prepared. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, so we have compiled a short list of questions you should be sure to ask your AV company prior to your event.
Can you work with my budget?
Failure to be upfront with what you are looking for as well as your budget can result in a huge waste of time and energy—both of which are scarce while planning an event.
Right off the bat, let the AV company know exactly what you need (speakers, microphones, projectors, live mixing, streaming, etc.) and how much you are willing to spend. If you don't know the AV space very well, there’s no need to worry. It is perfectly fine to let the company know where the event is, how many people are attending, and what you will need the equipment for (speeches, live music, projecting a sporting event, etc.). They will be able to tell you the specific equipment that it would require and if they can do that within your budget.
A lack of transparency here could lead to getting all of the AV planned only to realize they cannot do it within your budget, or perhaps they can be within budget but can’t provide a crucial service you need.
Are there any issues with the venue?
Be sure to go over your venue contract thoroughly and don’t hesitate to ask your AV provider for help— they will want to know what they are working with at the venue. Some venues actually penalize clients who hire an outside AV provider, some don’t supply power, and we’ve seen a multitude of additional rules and restrictions that an AV provider would need to know beforehand. It is far better to be aware of any limits or issues during the planning phase. An AV issue on event day is the last thing you need while making sure everything goes smoothly.
What additional information do you need?
As always, the more communication, the better. When working with an AV provider, countless questions can be answered to help them execute a seamless event for you.
Some questions to answer up front for them are:
What content will be presented using their equipment?
How many people will be attending the event?
How many microphones are needed? Wired or Wireless?
What is and isn’t provided by you or the venue?
How much space will they have?
Will they have access to wifi or ethernet (if needed)?
Will you require an on-site technician for troubleshooting or more complicated equipment operations?
Some questions to ask them are:
What are their needs for bandwidth, power, and space?
How much time is needed for setup and strike (teardown)?
How many site passes will they need for their staff?
What kinds of microphones/speakers/projectors will be best?
Once all of the information is communicated, always be sure to ask your AV provider if they have any additional concerns so event day troubleshooting can be avoided at all costs.
Can you do a walkthrough?
Having your AV provider tag along for a walkthrough can be a significant way to prevent any misunderstandings ahead of time. Walkthroughs allow them to work much more effectively and efficiently. They will be able to plan the load-in and setup, find the locations of nearest outlets, take measurements, snap photos, and address numerous potential obstacles that too often need to be figured out on the day of the event.
What team will you be bringing?
Depending on the size and technical specifics of your event, your AV company will most likely come in the form of a team. Often, a larger team will come in to help with setup while only two or three people are needed to remain on-site during the event. It is always good to know how many will be staying and what they will be operating so that no oversights occur. The most important detail to figure out is who the point person is going to be. In most cases, you’ll communicate your needs with this person, and they will know who on their team to talk to and how to effectively address your needs—similar to the relationship between you and your client in regards to the entire event.
Dealing with an AV company on such an important piece of your event may seem daunting, but it really comes down to communication. If you are sure to be upfront about your budget and your needs, ask the right questions, and put as much effort as possible into preparation for both you and your AV company, you are sure to be covered.
The best part is once these are all addressed, chances are you will find a company that you work well with to service your future events—which can end the stress of searching, allowing you to spend more time overseeing your event on all other ends.