Every event planner juggles a host of details for any event they plan, whether it’s a large conference, board meeting or small speaking engagement.
All too often, however, event planners overlook one crucial aspect on their event planning checklist: audio production.
Solid audio production is critical to the success of any event, regardless of the event’s size or venue.
Audio production is a complex process, and therefore event planners tend to make common errors that threaten the success of their events.
Here are 5 audio production mistakes that every event planner should avoid:
1. Neglecting Audio Production Needs Until the Last Minute
As an event planner, you wouldn’t try to book a venue a week before your event, so why would you wait to rent and install a sound system until the very last minute?
When providing quality sound reinforcement, there are many unexpected twists and turns that can happen any time before, during or after your event.
Make sure to prepare a list of questions to help things run smoothly. Questions should include:
What kinds of presentations are you planning for your event?
Will you need to rent or buy a conference microphone system for a Q&A or panel discussion?
Will you need a PA system so your entire audience can hear presentations?
What about receivers and transmitters for multilingual events?
Will your event feature break-out groups and small group work sessions?
These are all questions you need to answer months or weeks — not days — in advance.
2. Assuming the Event Venue Has the Gear and Staff You Need
Event planners who scramble to round up audio equipment at the last minute often do so because they’ve discovered an important detail: their event’s venue doesn’t have an existing sound or microphone system.
Some venues have A/V systems in place, especially if they host multiple events and conferences throughout the year. But not every venue is equipped with state-of-the-art audio equipment.
Furthermore, venues that offer sound systems don’t always have audio engineers and technicians to run them. Don’t presume that your planning team’s IT specialist will know how to configure a sound system mere hours before the start of your event.
You should always ask about audio equipment and production engineers when you’re investigating a venue, and have an idea what you’ll need.
If you don’t have your own sound system and you’d prefer to avoid the hassle of renting equipment (or hiring someone to operate it), find a venue that offers professional on-site audio equipment and technicians.
Lastly, those in charge at your venue dislike last minute surprises as much as you do. Keep your venue’s staff in the loop and you’ll be able to ensure that the right gear and/or technicians are available, and that you won’t be caught off guard by competing events or noise restrictions.
3. Forgetting the “Weakest Link” Principle
So you bought a top-of-the-line wireless microphone system for your audience Q&A. Now you can save a few bucks by purchasing cheap cables to go from the receiver to the PA, right? Wrong.
Many audio professionals have learned this lesson the hard way: any sound reinforcement or microphone system is only as good as its weakest link. Just because you have the best gear money can buy, the whole presentation can turn awry with a single bad cable.
The small items are the last things you should skimp on. Make sure all of your cables work and, more importantly, make sure to set everything up early enough in advance that you have time to replace any malfunctioning cables or gear.
4. Failing to Research Potential Wireless Issues
A high-end wireless mic system won’t work if there are no available frequencies to operate on. Even if you’re using an inexpensive VHF wireless microphone system, you may find that excessive radio interference at the venue makes the system unusable.
Give every wireless microphone system a test run a few days before the event, and be prepared to replace it if necessary.
Because of federal regulations governing wireless microphone use, wireless systems compete for a narrow band of frequencies.
In crowded urban areas such as New York City, event planners often make the unfortunate discovery that their wireless mic system operates on a frequency that’s already claimed by a nearby user, and is therefore impossible to use.
In these areas, it’s a good idea to have a system that operates on a wide variety of frequencies, or to have a backup system available. This is also a good reason to rent a system from a qualified professional.
5. Not Checking Up On Presenters’ A/V Requirements
Figure out what your event’s presenters need long before their presentations.
Do your speakers need video projectors? Whiteboards? Laptops? Do they need a specific operating system (OS) or browser type during their presentation?
A good rule of thumb is to always have one screen, one digital projector and a variety of connector cables for laptops or DVD players on hand at your event.
Consult with your speakers early and often so that you can prepare for their needs well in advance.