How many times have you attended a function in some lovely venue with floor to ceiling windows. A luncheon maybe. Oh, and there’s going to be a special guest speaker. Someone you have been looking forward to seeing. But when it’s time for their presentation, you can’t read the screen, and you can’t hear what they have to say. A very frustrating experience.
I think that keeping a few simple rules in mind can help the savvy planner take the message to the audience in an effective manner. After all, isn’t that what we are all trying to do? Meetings are about the exchange of information. Audio visual is a tool to use to assist in conveying that message.
Sunlight is the enemy
– Almost nothing can compete with the brightness of the sun. If you are using a room with lots of widows or sklylights, make sure that they can be shaded. Or at least look for the darkest part of the room to place the screen.
Hard surfaces reflect sound
– Rooms with a lot of glass or any smooth hard surface will reflect sound causing echoes or reverberation. While a good audio technician with the right equipment can make it sing, the average audio system will (how should I put it?) be less than acceptable. Consider using drapery behind the stage to absorb some of the sound. Additional drapes in the back of the room will also help.
Columns aren’t transparent
– It seems pretty obvious now, but I have too often seen situations where sections of the audience were blocked from seeing the stage or the screen by columns. I like to tell planners when doing your site visits, place a chair where you would place the podium or screen, then walk around the room. If you can’t see the chair from where you are placing audience members, well then …..
Ensure your Freedom of Choice –
After the economy had a downturn several years ago, venues started to look at other ways to increase their revenue. One of the ways they chose was to leverage the audiovisual services that their clients used for the events taking place in the venue. By placing clauses in their contracts, they sometimes force clients to use a preselected vendor for all AV services, and then collect a kickback of 40% or more of the AV charges. The hotel likes it because it guarantees a revenue stream. The preselected vendors like it, because they can charge whatever they want as long as they kick back to the venue. It’s the you, the customer, that suffers by paying above the market rate for their AV support. Review your contracts carefully and insist that any restrictive clauses be removed. Ensure that you have the ability to bring in any vendor you choose, without penalties or extra fees. If the venue wants your business, they will agree to your terms.
Keeping those simple rules in mind when selecting your venues will help you maximize your chances of getting your message out. At least they can’t say they couldn’t hear it or see it. Now, if we could only get them to listen.