by Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM | November 01, 2007

There are many ways audiovisual can go wrong during a meeting. Following is a list of the “six deadly A/V sins” planners should avoid at all costs.

Blasting Sound

The “wall of sound” might have been big on the 1960s rock and pop scene, but it has no place in today’s meetings. Overamplification is a common sin. Attendees should be able to listen to the message without feeling pain in their eardrums. Some planners wrongly assume that louder volume will compensate for improperly mixed sound. Cranking up badly mixed sound won’t resolve clarity issues; it only will draw more attention to them.

Stretched Screens

When it comes to screen images, bigger is not necessarily better. The rule of thumb: The screen should correspond with the room size, setup and attendance. Unless you are designing an experiential marketing ride for a theme park, you never want your attendees to feel like they are sitting in the front row of a movie theater.

Opening Flubs

Forgo the film festival: Keep the general session opening videos short, say, three to seven minutes. When selecting music to match the video content, keep lyrics as well as tempo in mind; you don’t want songs with words that might contradict the meeting’s message.

In addition, the quality of the images on screen, whether static or animated, is crucial. Don’t think pumping up poorly executed visuals to a larger size will make them easier to see; that only will make their poor quality more obvious to the audience.

Also bear in mind that computer-generated slide images can look great on your laptop but horrendous on a 20-foot screen. Colors are easily diluted and distorted. Brown, for example can project as a blinding yellow.

Scheduling Snafus

Staffing your tech support correctly will make or break your program. Budget for strong A/V support for the duration of your event, and don’t forget rehearsal time. Make sure a rep from your A/V firm attends your pre-cons. If you are collaborating with several A/V vendors for various elements of your program, be sure to clarify their schedules.

Recently, I scheduled a breakout session following our general session in the same room. The general session was produced by a separate company, and I forgot to coordinate the tech support in the room with our general breakout vendor. Fortunately, the producer of my general session caught the error. (Another strong argument for having consummate professionals at your side.)

Bright Lights

Planners generally fear making their rooms too dark. While it is true that spectacularly bright and clear flat-screen images allow for a lighter ambient glow over the audience, and while it is true that you don’t want the liability of your attendees falling and hurting themselves in the pitch black, be sure to take the lights down enough to give your presentations full impact and drama.

Budget Busters

If you are unable to secure a 24-hour hold on the venue and have a tight turnaround time, you might need to double or triple your labor fees to move in and set up on time. Before you sign that venue contract, be sure you understand how much time it is going to take to set up A/V and/or turn over any rooms.

In addition, you can eliminate and/or reduce room turns by strategically planning your breakouts. Work closely with your venue and A/V team to streamline room sets over the duration of your program. This effort can save thousands of dollars.

Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM,is senior event operations manager with George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos, Calif.