Learn These 4 Elements of AV to Enhance Your Event

Learn These 4 Elements of AV to Enhance Your Event

Think about a meeting or event program you are working on and how the four key elements of audiovisual can be woven into the overall experience to create an engaging and interactive environment for your participants.

What are the four essential elements of AV that every planner should know?

The four key elements of AV at meetings and events include:

  1. Sound
  2. Lights
  3. Projection
  4. Special Effects

I wish I would have known more about these four elements of AV combined with the power of honesty, vision and experience when I first started out in the industry.

Have you ever been to a concert, play, opera, ballgame or festival and saw a special effect and thought, “WOW, that effect would be perfect for our next company sales meeting?”

Then you wonder, “How would I ever communicate that to my AV company?” Do you lack the words to describe that look and experience to your technology partner?

Perhaps you were at a festival where the audio speakers were loud, and you could barely hear the announcer’s voice—but the music sounded great.

Are you able to share those thoughts with your AV team?

Your client is bringing his or her team together to communicate a message; that message must be heard clearly, seen clearly and understood clearly by everyone and remembered.

To craft an AV production, you need sound, lights, projection and maybe a few special effects. Are the words “sound,”” lights,” “projection,” and “special effects” just words to you? Would you like to learn what they do?

Each element helps you design the flow of your meeting or event.

Failure in any of these areas negatively impacts each participant’s ability to understand the message of the event. That can mean failure for current and future events.

Sound, lights, projection and special effects are the tools meeting and event professionals use to craft the experience for their participants. Please do not let someone intimidate you because they are more technologically savvy than you. This is the time to take advantage of your supplier’s wisdom, experience and playfulness. Be honest with your AV suppliers about your budget and buy the best you can afford.

AV technicians get very excited by technology and want to explain how all the pieces will fit together to create what you are talking about. My mind just can’t follow the engineering thought process. I have learned to say, “I know you will be able to achieve exactly what I can see in my head. Please allow me to fully explain my vison to you. Then I would love to take advantage of your knowledge and expertise.”

Let’s Talk About Sound

Sound focuses the ear. Sound travels; ask about a delayed distribution system. This system allows everyone to hear the same thing at the same time without any echo. In addition, the human ear hears the human voice and music differently.

Ask what kind of audio speakers your technical provider had in mind—for example, would they be flown from the ceiling (better speaker distribution and stage sightlines vs. higher cost), or on stands on the side of the stage (lower cost vs. worse stage sightlines)?

Both options require that the A1 adjust the board on a continuous basis.

Soundscaping is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment. Imagine walking in to a room with the sound of a running brook, blasting off in to space or a racecar revving its engine.

Let’s Talk About Lighting

Light focuses the eye. Lights allow the audience to see what you want them to see or keep an area dark so that no one sees it.

Often our gut reaction is to cover up a wall, a pole or another less attractive area.

Think about creating a new focal point with the use of lighting. Do you want to embrace the space or surprise the eyes? Lights can be flown from the ceiling (better focus on light vs. higher cost) or on stands at the side of the stage (lower cost vs. control of focus)?

Gobo’s (go before optics) are a great way to add design and depth to your event. Simply stated a gobo is a beam of light with a metal stencil over it that creates a pattern.

Gobos can project any design or pattern including abstract shapes, patterns, pictures and company logos. You can project gobos onto ceilings, floors and walls.

A light show is a really fun way to grab your guest’s attention. With the use of intelligent lights, you can create a visual show. For instance, imagine “inside fireworks."

Let’s Talk About Projection

Projection is all about the throw, the distance a light beam travels from a projector to a surface. Be aware of what are you projecting on (screen type, wall type or water type), what you are projecting with, and just how clear the projection must be.

Remember: all the participants need to be able to see the message. Projection is used to communicate a message to your audience.

That message must be seen, heard, embraced and remembered.

Projection mapping is a projection technology used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into a display surface for video projection. These objects may be complex industrial landscapes, such as buildings, small indoor objects or theatrical stages.

By using specialized software, a two- or three-dimensional object is spatially mapped on the virtual program which mimics the real environment it is to be projected on.

This really adds excitement and energy to any room and creates great icebreaking opportunities; did you see that, what do you think that is, how do they do that?

Let’s Talk About Special Effects

Special effects create memorable moments and are affordable. Nothing puts energy or enhances excitement in a room like a confetti cannon or balloon drop. Think of them as your exclamation mark when planning your client’s production.

Special effects that are used in front of a live audience include: flying effects, laser lighting, theatrical smoke and fog, CO2 effects and pyrotechnics.

Other atmospheric effects can include flame, confetti, bubbles and snow.

4 Elements of AV: Tying It All Together

Do lights, sound and projection make you feel uncomfortable or uncertain? When reading AV quotes, do you feel like you need a translator?

Does staging an engaging experience enhance your timeline to deliver a clear message?

With a little explanation, vision and creativity, you can learn a few tricks to involve your audience without increasing your budget. 

Need a little more confidence? Video West has educational AV videos and a user-friendly website that makes it easy to find information and resources.

Jon Trask at Strategic Meeting Tech has a blog with a Q&A section that addresses common AV concerns and thoughts. FMAV features AV webinars and resources.

Still thinking about that program, you are working on? Have you had a creative burst to change it up just a tad to surprise the audience?

Let me know what AV elements you are going to challenge yourself to explore and try.

Posted by Lynne Wellish

Lynne Wellish

Lynne Wellish, CMP, CHSE, CHO is an award-winning hospitality industry trainer and speaker.

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