Finding an AV partner can seem like a daunting task. At innoVia, we know this, so we created a list of things to do to help better ensure a good experience. Doing these things will help you navigate the options and make a good choice for your event.
Be sure the provider understands your vision and objectives.
Before getting quotes, be sure to share the objective of your event. Typically, there is one or a combination of four things events are trying to accomplish, selling, training, celebrating, or communicating news, your potential AV provider needs to know exactly what you want to achieve.
In addition, explain to them what you see in your mind’s eye. What do you want things to look like? How do you see things happening? What colors, visuals, and music do you imagine? What does the flow/agenda look like? To create an effective event, your AV team needs to know as many details as you can provide.
Ask questions about the quote.
An AV quote can look very confusing, so ask questions. A prospective AV provider should be able to justify every piece of equipment or service on the quote and explain it in terms everyday people can understand. If they cannot do that, your alarm bells should go off. If they want to truly be a partner, they should do everything possible to help you understand and be successful. Unfortunately, too many AV companies send out a quote hoping you will just trust them and sign it. Some of the more unscrupulous are simply trying to confuse you for the benefit of their bottom line. If you do not understand something, ask about it. If they cannot explain it in such a way that you can see how it works to help your event, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Get alternative suggestions.
It is not at all unusual to get quotes that are over your budget. When this happens, ask if there is equipment you can substitute without degrading the overall experience.
For instance, perhaps wired microphones would work in place of wireless microphones, or maybe a less expensive projector might accomplish your goals. A great AV team should be able to coach you through this process and work with you to find a happy medium that creates a great event, achieves your objectives, and accommodates your budget.
Ask about the company’s experience.
Do some homework to see what kinds of events the company has produced. What is their track record? Can you get references? What is their safety record? Ask to see any video footage of past events. How does it look? How does it sound?
Learn about the team who will be working your event.
Who will lead the team? Will they be onsite as your main point of contact? What about the team itself? Like a lot of technically focused people, many AV professionals can be difficult to talk to and work with. Ask to meet some of the technical team. Ask about years of experience and previous events they have produced. Are the team members fun and easy going or are they gruff and all business? When difficulties present themselves —and with the volatility of technology, this is not unusual— you will want a team who can put you and your attendees at ease while taking care of the issues.
Ensure you can have a rehearsal.
You want to be well prepared for your event. Make sure any potential AV provider will give you a chance to rehearse and go through your event step by step.
During the rehearsal, make sure you have them check all the microphones, the lights, and all your presentations. Make sure you can hear things and see things from every part of the audience space.
Mistakes usually occur during transitions from one speaker to another or moving between media like PowerPoint slides to videos or internet connections. Practice these and make sure your technical team knows exactly how it should work. If they give you any warning about possible problems or the time it might take to make the changes, pay heed. Don’t assume everything can happen quickly and painlessly. If they give you suggestions to make it better, it is usually best to adjust, they have most likely seen the worst of it and do not want it to happen to you.
Finally, if something is not going well, do not leave without getting it right. No matter what promises you are given, get it right before the show.