Why AV in Event Planning is Priority Over Food Service
By Scott Stedronsky | Feb 8, 2019
(This piece first appeared on the Stage Right, Inc. blog)
Thoughts from Patty: I've been planning events and galas for more than 23 years and have always made it a priority to bring my strategic A/V & Production partner to the table for conversations with the client early in the planning stages to ensure we've clearly identified from the stakeholders what the high-level objectives are for the guests. My hope is that Scott's article will encourage you to re-think planning priorities: Bring your A/V company in early, let them help you compose a REALISTIC A/V BUDGET, and allow them to show you how to utilize the budget in a manner that'll dazzle both the C-Suite and the guests! While selecting food, table linens, flowers, candles, and decor are elegant, fun tasks to engage in, if the lighting, sound, and stage action aren't on-point down to the millisecond, you're taking an unnecessary risk. I was thrilled to read this article by Scott Stedronksy because he succinctly communicates from an A/V perspective WHY planning for A/V & Production needs to come before everything else and NOT be relegated toward the end of the planning stages. I appreciate his generosity of spirit to now share his perspective with you!
It’s one of the first things event planners ruminate over as they get the go-ahead to execute the next big corporate confab: What food to serve attendees. Among event planning priorities, yes, the menu is important, but not at the very outset.
Of course, in the end everything matters. As you build and execute by securing hotel accommodations, travel, entertainment, decorations, table settings and every other detail imaginable to create a singular experience, none of these should be the initial focal point of your planning concerns.
First Priority: Know Thy Objective
Your event should mean business. Consider why this event is being planned and presented in the first place and how it will support, reinforce or alter corporate perception, internally or outwardly.
Is the company rallying the sales team for the coming year? Launching a new product or brand campaign? Highlighting organization and personnel achievements? Ultimately, every high-impact event has a mission to produce an outcome that management cares about.
The content and messaging of an event is the most important part of the proceedings. How they’re planned and executed means the difference between delivering a predictable mundane corporate presentation or a real experience that leaves your attendees with a lasting impression, which is where the AV planning comes into play.
Getting this right is where you’ll ultimately be judged. And that’s the primary reason to sort out how you’ll execute the event. So, before spending another second thinking about anything else, consider how the message is conveyed between the people presenting and the people listening, watching and experiencing.
Why the Audio Visual Matters First
Here are the reasons why AV and event staging need to be thought of far higher in your event planning priorities.
AV planning helps you understand if you only need a meeting… or require a show.
This goes back to the event objectives we mentioned. Conferring with an event specialist can help you resolve what the event requires. A smaller gathering will mean a less involved plan. The greater the stakes, AV becomes more elaborate and complex. Ultimately, how much goes into an event and its size depends greatly on objective, audience and budget.
AV planning helps you understand the venue.
All event spaces are not created equal. Some are easy. Others, present some rather unique challenges.
Experienced event staging companies will insist on a site-walkthrough. Adding this process to your even planning priorities can reveal all kinds issues to get an event to the level that you expect it to be, allowing for course corrections and alternatives to be planned well before they present significant issues later.
AV planning helps you organize. There are all kinds of event planning guides for event planners, but the technical execution requires its own process. High-level event specialists tightly organize every phase of development and execution. They work with planners and walk through the entire AV and staging game plan and event design, detailing what happens before, during and after to anticipate challenges and maintain zero guesswork.
They should also supply proof of process. Ask for a visible and demonstrable workflow planning and execution procedure that tightly organizes every step of an event, from designing the staging, lighting and sound for the venue, all they way down to post-event breakdown.
AV planning helps you budget accurately. By understanding event requirements, you arm yourself with the precise equipment, services and technical staff your event needs, contracted up front. Better yet, this eliminates casualty runs for missing or added equipment that can add cost to an event. That reduces last-minute and rush labor charges.
And as you focus in on what the audiovisual specialists will deliver, you’ll want to ensure the venue dials back on its in-house AV requirements. These hotel packages include equipment and services you won’t need, with hidden charges that can surprise you at the event’s conclusion. AV pros can review the contract and supply guidance on how to reduce or avoid those costs.
Let us reiterate that nothing is unimportant when planning and executing an event. Every detail matters, including the food. Just bear in mind by prioritizing AV support at the start of your event planning priorities, you’ll increase the likelihood of dishing up an event that satisfies all attendees’ appetites.