So you’re planning a meeting. You’ve got a venue picked out, you’ve got your speakers lined up, and you (and/or your boss) are ready to sign off on your plan.
But Wait! What about your Audio/Visual plan? Have you thought about your AV needs? Who your suppliers are going to be? Make sure you and your team think about these questions before you sign off on your event.
Do you have your AV needs documented? Make sure you know what you need AV wise, and that you arrange in advance to make sure it’s all ready for your event. Whether you provide the AV yourself, or you hire a company to do it for you, make sure you make a plan and stick to it to avoid last minute surprises.
Are you comfortable setting up yourself? If you are, then you’re all set. If not, do you need to call Steve from IT to set something up? Or is Anita from Accounting your Go-To setup wiz? No matter who you have doing the setup, make sure you know in advance who that will be and you schedule them to be there.
Do you need to bring in a professional? Remember both Steve from IT and Anita from accounting have a full-time job. Does taking your skilled employees away from their desk really make the most sense? Sure, if it’s just hooking up a laptop in the boardroom, it’s no problem, but if you’re taking them away for a long period of time, doesn’t it make sense to hire a professional?
Does your Venue provide AV support? When you’re looking at off-site meetings in Hotels and conference centers, find out what’s included in your rental. Does the room come with drop-down projection screens? Do you have to pay extra for the projector? Does a lectern and riser come with the rental, or does that cost extra? Do you have to arrange with the AV team separately, or is there a default setup? Will a technician be in the room the whole time? Will there even be a tech onsite? How much does that all cost?
Is in-house AV your best option? The answer to this is often no. Did you know that at most hotel properties, the in-house AV is not done by the hotel, but by a 3rd party company that pays to be the prefered provider? These companies often pay a 40-50% commission on the rates you pay back to the hotel. They also don’t usually travel to other locations, and have different crews for each property, so you’ll have different technicians at every event you do. They may be a great value and are certainly a great onsite resource, but they may not be your best choice, which brings us to #6:
Did you red-line exclusivity agreements in your venue contract? Given that they get 40% back from the in-house AV vendor, venues often have exclusivity clauses in their contracts which will require you to use the onsite provider. These can almost always be negotiated off the contract - the hotel salespeople are in the business of selling meeting rooms and guest rooms. While they like the AV kickback, it’s almost never a deal breaker for them, but it should be one for you. This doesn't rule out using the in-house AV, in fact they may be a great option, but if you redline the exclusivity clause, you have the option to use whoever you want, and the in-house has to be more competitive.
This is the most important question - Did you schedule time for your own breaks? You, your staff, Steve, Anita, and your AV crew all need to eat, rest, and use the restroom. Did you build in breaks for self-care, and schedule coverage for your positions while you’re gone? Your boss needs you in one piece, and you need your staff and crew in tip-top shape. Take care of yourself, eat, and don’t forget to drink water!