By Matthew King
Veteran event planners are a laser-focused category of human beings. A vision of perfection drives them to plan for every aspect of an event and push everyone involved forward. That vision is why businesses and individuals hire them to manage our most important days. Product releases. Weddings. Press conferences. Conventions.
In the flurry of planning an event, groups and planners often overlook the expertise of event technicians. These technicians handle everything from A/V to staging to lighting to audience interactions. Planners need to know that techs should be a golden resource before the event as well as during. Often, the technicians are hired mostly to push through the event in a short time from testing equipment on-site to operating the event and breaking down We all know, though, that planning ahead trumps all else when it comes to an event. Here are some ways to include your technicians in planning your event.
Share every piece of information you can.
Videos. Powerpoints. Photos. Music. Contact information. Schedules. I repeat, share every piece of information you can. This way, you never rely on a single copy of anything!
Some events are planned and set in stone, but for the most part, both large and small events start as an idea, form into a general plan, move through vendor contracts and venue bookings, and then become more solid as time moves on. The audio visual experience is just a sliver of all that, and often, many changes happen without being shared by everyone involved.
Communication is the biggest asset for both the planner and technician. Think about CC'ing the technician or A/V company in the planning process. If you don't want us to chime in, we won't, but a paper (or email) trail helps to inform us about what changes and why.
Personally, I offer my email and phone number to event planners to give to their presenters and performers. Some planners would rather not pass it on, but it's a show of good faith that we want you to succeed. For larger events, I offer to set up a group Drive, Box, or OneDrive account, so that everyone involved has access to as much info as possible.
Ask them questions about the event venue and similar events they've produced.
Most of our technicians operate audio visual experiences at diverse venues regularly. It may be your first time at venue or it might be a yearly event, but some technicians might operate out of that space on a daily basis. Involving them more in the planning process taps into a perspective that can help you make an event more than just another notch in the board.
Ask us what we think of your ideas. Ask us if we have any of our own that might work. Ask us about our favorite event we've produced at that venue. This kind of knowledge is the power to exceed expectations.
Similarly, A/V techs love playing with new toys and new setups. If you want something a little bit different at a new venue, it's possible with a little bit of planning. Event apps? Audience polling? Livestreaming? Let them know if you want something that's a little bit different.
Introduce everyone involved and run them through the itinerary.
Things can get crazy on the day of an event. A planner might not be within reach and someone might need to mic'd or otherwise prepared for the event. Something as simple as making sure the technician has been introduced to a performer or presenter before they go on can make a huge amount of difference.
For the days of an event, have a proper written itinerary with the names and info of all presenters and participants and their presentation time-frames noting the equipment they'll be using. Distribute copies for the technicians and everyone who needs to be involved. Then, run them through the itinerary and introduce them to everyone involved.
Make sure everyone knows that "Early is on time."
We really do want to help you with any and all last-minute changes. Sometimes we can't.
Last-minute changes are just a part of the events industry. Thinking on our feet, having a truck/room full of back-up equipment, and knowing alternate solutions is pretty much the reason event technicians keep their jobs. If an event has already begun, there're only so many things a technician can do without interrupting the event.
Chances are, the technician has been there for at least a couple hours before anyone else. Use that time to discuss changes and offer up their expertise to your presenters and performers.
Really, this is all to say that we realize we're all in the hospitality business. All event professionals are employed at the whims of their clients and their clients' guests. If planners and techs work together, a single day turns into an eventful memory.
Matthew King is the Director of Sales and Marketing at King Audio Visual and runs the new A/V and Events Services blog, Technically A/V. Previously, he grew up in the audio visual industry and has over 10 years of professional experience in the hospitality industry as a chef, event planner, audio visual technician, and operations manager.