When it comes to designing an impactful event, the use of audiovisual components is a big part of the equation. No matter how good your speaker is, their aura can be significantly diminished if the sound and lighting systems are not up to par. Often times though, the scope of event AV is limited more by budget than creativity. This is why event planners need to learn how to maximize their audiovisual spending. Follow the approach outlined here to identify what really adds value to your keynote presentations, and what things you may not really need.
Screens and Projectors
Consider yourself lucky if your speaker doesn’t request a screen and projector for his or her session. PowerPoint presentations, videos and online collaborations make up the vast majority of live content these days. But don’t be afraid to inquire more about how your speaker will utilize their visual aids. Depending on the size of your room, you might be able to get away with one centered screen instead of two flanking each side of the room. This simple tweak alone can save you $1000 at some venues.
If you plan to feature multiple speakers, then don’t be surprised if the microphone requests quickly spiral out of control. At $100 or more per device, it can get expensive when each one of your speakers needs a different type of microphone. Factor in a mic or two for audience questions, and suddenly you need to pay for a larger soundboard to handle all the different inputs. Control your costs by offering two options, a podium mic or wireless lavaliere, to your speakers. Unless you’re paying for a world renowned expert, you don’t have to accept a rock-star list of AV requirements.
Dramatic lighting effects can transform the feel of any room from serviceable to magnificent, but the costs of these effects can be steep. When you calculate the equipment, rigging labor and design costs, it is not uncommon for lighting to cost more than the traditional audiovisual components. Keep all this in mind as you begin discussing options with your AV team. The key to saving money here is getting the most from the existing lights within the room. Banquet centers typically have adequate lighting options installed. They may not feature a wide-array of customization options, but the money you save by integrating them might be better spent on other room upgrades.
Hiring a DJ
If your event is more of a party as opposed to a conference, then you can save big by hiring an experienced DJ. Most reputable outfits are capable of providing their own microphones, sound systems and disco-type lighting effects. Best of all, their package prices are significantly cheaper than what you would pay to a professional AV supplier. You will want to check with your venue before negotiating a contract though, as some properties will charge a “buyout fee” to bring in another supplier that provides the same services offered in-house.
Graphic Design and Creative Production
The cost for design services can get very expensive, and using your venue’s in-house team is usually the highest priced option. When it comes to creating graphics, slide shows, or videos, your best bet is to find a respected freelancer. Not only will you save 50% or more, but often times you’ll get better support working one-on-one with a freelancer. Again, it is important to review references and portfolios before you assign your job. Using a freelance portal like elance.com makes this easy and protects buyers with a built-in escrow payment system.
Perhaps the best way to control AV costs is to make sure you understand all aspects of your needs. Many people shy away from “talking tech” because they are embarrassed to ask questions. Just remember that you are the client, and by holding the checkbook, you also hold all the power. Review your AV cost estimates line by line, and look for duplicate or unnecessary charges. Don’t be afraid to compare the costs of outsourcing anything you believe is too expensive.