AV creates a memorable experience. With lackluster AV services, your event might seem to be missing something. But how do you incorporate AV without breaking the bank and ruining your budget? What parts are worth the splurge? There are a lot of options so here’s how to make the most of them.
Attendees expect an experience and AV is one of the most impactful ways to provide one. But at what point does it become difficult to continually trump one's efforts on a budget? Here are a few AV trends and production tips that can help you make a big impression without putting a deep dent in your budget.
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Your Audience Is No Longer In the Same Room (or Continent)
One of the biggest things you need to think about when deciding on AV and how you will use it is not just the experience of those in the same room as you, but those who are experiencing your event online as well. Even if you’re not offering online tickets, there are attendees who are capturing every amazing special effect you are creating and sharing it through video and live broadcasts. Keep this in mind as you design your event. How can you make your AV spectacular for the viewers ‘at home’ as well?
The Excitement of Extras and Unlocks
AV is not just about tech on a screen during a presentation. It encompasses a lot of event technology. You can experiment with all sorts of extras and unlocks with content using beacons and wearables. These fun surprises unlock themselves based on attendee location or preference. While this category of tech still falls under a cool extra, it’s quickly becoming an expectation. Theme parks, museums, and other forms of entertainment are employing it now. Soon it will become de rigueur. Will you be ready when it does?
People Don’t Differentiate on Experience
Amazon influences search expectations. Everyone, no matter the size of your organization, expects your search to function the way Amazon’s does. They don’t differentiate on the experience the mega-retail giant can offer and what you’re able to do at your event.
The same is true of the mega-events. Events like Dreamforce, Inbound, SXSW, and CES are influencing expectations. A stage with a black curtain and uplighting is no longer enough of a backdrop to keep people interested. They want more and expect it.
Audio Visual Is Now Audio Sensual
AV used to stand for audiovisual. Now it’s about appealing to all of the senses, not just hearing or sight. Event planners are interspersing videos throughout the event areas. They’re using them before speakers come on in much the same way movies show trailers before the main event. Videos and auditory expressions are being employed in areas of long waits as well as to set the tone for a given moment.
Event professionals are creating eye candy, using delightful smells, touch, and taste to delight audiences everywhere. Senses create an experience and AV makes that possible.
Event planners are even thinking about sets the way Hollywood does, implementing just the right background to add interest in presentations without detracting from the speaker. Planners are accomplishing this through amazing lighting or even projection mapping (for those with slightly larger budgets). These settings convey a message that assists the speaker and enthralls the audience. Check out this set from Inbound’s Five-minute sessions.
The End of Wait
We used to be good little attendees who waited quietly for the ‘show’ to begin. No more. People can’t stand downtime. It makes them physically uncomfortable. Just watch people of a certain age if they have to wait in a doctor’s office without their phone. They don’t know what to do with themselves.
Event attendees aren’t any better. You can provide the entertainment or they will pull out their phones and find it there. The benefit of you being the one to do it means you already have their attention. If they pull out their phones, you’re going to have to do something to wrestle their attention back to your screen, show, or presenter. You need to be the one to provide them with the entertainment and there are tons of engaging ways to do that.
Blair Witch or Hollywood Blockbuster?
We all know video is hot. Even local little league baseball teams are using video at parent meetings to ensure those who can’t make it can still be a part of the event.
Recently, there’s a been a movement back to the highest quality of video production. Some events are competing with Hollywood in the speaker introduction category. But it doesn’t all have to be that way. With event video you have two options: Hollywood production value (that is outside of most of our budgets) or ‘Blair Witch’. Blair Witch, like the movie of the same name, is designed to have a very DIY appeal. It’s low budget, minimal production quality, shot from your own camera.
Whether you go Hollywood or DIY in your production value, ensure that you are consistent in its usage and it’s in line with your event branding.
Know Your Options
Like most things, if you don’t understand your options, you might get taken advantage of. When it comes to AV, you have plenty. You can buy your own equipment (this is a long-term costly solution that might pay off if you host a lot of events) or you can rent/contract with a company to do it for you. If you choose the latter you have additional options like going with your venue’s AV team or selecting your own.
If you’re looking for cutting-edge options, you may not find those in a venue-based team unless they are in an area that requires it like Las Vegas or another large convention city. If your venue caters to a lot of business meetings, for instance, what they do well will be very professional, not necessarily creative or cutting-edge. If on the other hand, they operate in a town known for glitz, they may have the sizzle you desire. Do your homework before selecting an AV team.
AV, like many things event professionals work with, has advanced to some incredible possibilities these days. While there are AV resources with Super Bowl-type pricing, there are also many ways you can employ it within your own budget. The most important thing to consider is how it will add to your attendee’s experience. Consider all the senses – not just two – and imagine how you can fill the space with short, yet meaningful messaging.
Today’s event planners are using AV throughout their entire event, not just before each speaker. Incorporating it in unexpected ways is the best method for getting more for your money.