Prior to joining LEMG, I owned my own event planning company and one task that I always found a bit daunting and overwhelming was hiring an AV Production company. I didn’t know what questions to ask, what equipment I needed and how it worked, what labor would be required and how to budget for AV
Having worked at LEMG for a bit now, I can see with better clarity the questions I should have asked the AV company and how I could have worked better with my AV partners by providing more information to them upfront. I want to pass on this “treasure chest” of knowledge to you.
Tips for working with an AV company:
1. Know your budget
Before you call an AV company, know what your budget is. I would argue that AV Production is one of the most important aspects of any event. This will save you a lot of time and money and enable the AV company to let you know if your expectations are aligned with your budget.
2. Know who you are working with
What services does the AV company provide? Do they just rent equipment or are they a full-service provider that rents the equipment and provides the appropriate technicians to operate it? Do they provide full-service production: Audio, Video, Lighting, Staging, and Back Drops? Can they help you with the planning? Can they do renderings of the venue layout and the AV equipment/stage etc. within it?
3. Develop an “A” Team
An AV partner can be among the most important aspects of your event. If the production around an event goes sour, it will be one of the first things that attendees notice. Have you ever been to an event where you couldn’t hear the presenter or where the screen went blank in the middle of a presentation? I would argue that finding an AV partner before you even find a venue would be a solid option, as they can walk you through the AV positives and negatives of various venues before you move forward.
4. Arm your AV Company with Knowledge
The more they know about your event, the better they will be able to put together a quote that will serve your needs. Here is some information you should have on hand before you make the call:
- Why – What is the purpose of the event? What do you want your attendees to get out of the event?
- Where – Have you booked a venue? Can you share the venue AV restrictions? Ceiling Heights in the rooms where the meeting is taking place? Do you have a layout of the room? What does the venue provide? Are there unions to deal with?
- When – Date & Time of the event? Dates and times for load-in and striking the event?
- Who – Who will be attending the event? How many will be attending?
- What – What is your vision? Do you have a preliminary Run of Show that outlines what you require from an AV company? Know before you call whether you will have multiple presenters, breakout rooms, do you need staging/backdrops/lighting, will there be music or entertainment, and what content will be shared during the meeting. Will there be streaming? Do you need to have the event recorded? Will there be a virtual component?
Ask the Right Questions: What should you ask an AV Company?
1. How long have you been in business?
You want to hire a company that has made it through the ups and downs of the business and economic cycles. One of the ways you can gauge how deep the relationships an entity has with its community and its means of surviving and thriving through the various cycles of the event economy is by how long it has been in business.
2. Why should I choose you over other AV companies?
The AV company should be able to tell you what makes their company unique relative to its competitors. What are the company’s strengths relative to its competitors? This may help you decide whether it is a good fit for your team.
3. Who are your largest clients?
Can we go to them for recommendations? This is key. I wouldn’t want to work with an AV company that didn’t come armed with positive recommendations from previous clients and provide me with the contact information for past clients on the spot.
4. Have you worked in the venue that we booked?
If so, what has been your experience there? What are the positives and negatives? Can you send me pictures of past events there? If you booked a venue within the territory that the AV company works, they probably have worked with them before. The AV company will be able to give you the ins and outs of working there and help you with everything from the layout that works best to the stage size and sound equipment to make the greatest impact.
5. Can you do a site visit with me to go through the event space and see what I will need to put on the show?
Consider the AV company as your consultant to make sure that you have the correct sound and projection as well as camera angles to get the absolute best quality show. A walk-thru of the event space with your AV team should give you great confidence that you are all on the same page come show day.
6. Do you outsource your technicians?
If so, how are they vetted? The pandemic changed the AV business labor market in a meaningful way. Most labor that used to be housed within the AV company is now outsourced. Experienced technicians found that they could dictate their work schedule and make more money by working freelance. This means that most AV companies are outsourcing their technicians. While we outsource most of our technicians here at LEMG, we put our technicians through an extensive vetting process before they are allowed to be put on our regular show call sheets.
7. How many technicians will be onsite for the entire show?
Understanding what labor is required to put your show on properly and how they will support your show is key.
8. What do they believe the trends in AV equipment and production are?
How do you stay on top of the latest trends? The days of coming to an event with a couple of speakers on sticks and handheld microphones are a thing of the past. Today, high-tech lighting, virtual platforming, 3D mapping, and massive LED walls are the cool kids of AV. Ask your AV professional where they think the industry is moving. Get a feel for whether they are moving forward with modern equipment or staying in the past.
9. Can I meet my project manager prior to the show to make sure it is a fit?
At LEMG, we provide an in-house project manager that will be assigned to your show. They will be your partner through the planning process to show day. The project manager will be your key contact and knowing whether the personality is a fit is important.
10. How much time will you require for load-in and strike?
This way, you can put together the venue run of show.
11. Working within my AV budget, what do you believe would give me the most impact on the vision I have?
The AV company should have some ideas of equipment you might add or subtract from your show that will provide an impact within your budget. They probably have worked in your venue before or have experience with other similar shows that they can share with you.
12. Can you go through the quote with me?
Having your AV company go through the quote with you so you understand what equipment is needed to do what for your show will give you peace of mind. You don’t necessarily have to understand what all the equipment does, but you do need to know why it’s on your quote and what purpose it serves in bringing together your vision.
Getting Started with LEMG
Well, there are my pearls of wisdom for now. We hope that if you are looking for a quality, top-notch partner to work within the AV Production space, you will consider choosing LEMG. They are everything I could have hoped for when working on the event side. They are such a great team to work with!
Written by Faith Klaus
Faith Klaus is currently an Account Executive with LEMG. Before LEMG, Faith enjoyed a successful career on Wall Street as a Financial Analyst. She then founded and operated event company, Smashing.ly Events.