12 Common A/V Mistakes

We’ve all been there: a small budget and big expectations for a spectacular event. The Audio/Visual services are important to an event, particularly if they support the focal point of the occasion. But poor sound leaves people straining to hear, choppy videos leave people disenchanted and an out-of-proportion PowerPoint presentation can be very hard to read. These issues happen “live”, so you have little or no time to recover from these mistakes.

We’re here to help. Here’s a list of common issues that can crop up when selecting an A/V solution, with a recommendation of what to do if you are in that situation. Once you have addressed them, you are set for a “worry free” event.


1- The Sound System is Too Small or Too Big

A sound system for a group of 50 is not the same as ones for 200 or 2,000. Don’t overpay for a sound system for a small group. Also, placing a few large speakers at the front of the room to cover a big group is not appropriate unless they are hung from the ceiling (incurring rigging fees). Most people are familiar with the typical “DJ” setup, with speakers about 7’ high. To reach the people in the back of the room, the volume of these speakers must be turned up, blasting the people in front. For large groups, the best thing to do is to place speakers throughout a large room so everyone can hear the presenter at the same volume.


2- Budgeting Enough Money for the Appropriate System

Getting a quick rental quote for budgeting purposes is not the best call. Venue spaces (outdoors or indoors), number of guests, type of presentation or music, all has an affect on what kind of sound system is needed. Obtain a quote beforehand that encompasses everything you need before inserting an exact dollar amount into your budget.


Never rush the time it takes to set up and

fine tune the audio-visual solution.


3- Not Enough Time to Set Up

Quality takes time to set up. There are a number of factors, some rather unique, to consider when estimating set up and load out times. For instance, the loading dock is far away from the event space, a projection screen can’t fit in the elevator, so it has to be carried up several flights of stairs, cables have to laid and taped down throughout the room, then the equipment has to be tested and optimized for your event. All of this adds up in set up and load out time.


4- Balancing Aesthetics Against Quality

Speakers placed on stands at various points in the room are definitely obvious, and for good reason. They provide the best quality of sound throughout the room. It is a balance to have quality sound and at the same time not have the speaker stands in view. Every set up is a little different, but sometimes in order to have the best sound, the speakers need to be visible.


5- Hiring a Professional Technician

A sound system or video projection is only as good as the person running it. If you are trying to save money by bringing your own equipment and having either yourself or a volunteer run it, beware that it can reflect on the quality of your event. A pro knows more than just how to set up the equipment. They know how to adjust the settings to fit your event’s needs, has access to backup equipment, and experience at troubleshooting. (Like that last minute addition to the presentation.) You only have one chance to get it right, and there’s no going back if anything goes wrong.



Setting the proper screen size beforehand

is critical for a professional looking display.

6- Making Sure the PowerPoint Slides are the Correct Size

We are in a world of two sizes for video projection. The standard 4:3 and the widescreen 16:9. Ask the event company what shape the projection screen is before you start creating the PowerPoint presentation. You cannot adjust the PowerPoint screen size afterwards if it’s wrong. PowerPoint Versions 2010 and older default to 4:3. Versions 2013 and newer default to 16:9. Look for the “Page Setup” area in PowerPoint to set up the size of your presentation.


7- Making Last Minute Changes to Presentations

Presenters have been known to be more than a little late providing their presentations, or want a last minute video included. Sending at least a rough PowerPoint draft to the event company beforehand will assure the file works properly on the equipment that will be used.



Just because a venue has an internet connection

doesn’t necessarily mean there is enough

bandwidth to download videos. Check beforehand!


8- Playing a Video is Not as Simple as It Looks

The best way to add video to a presentation is to play it out of a video playback system which offers the highest quality. An economical, lower quality alternative is to embed the video in the PowerPoint presentation itself. However, PowerPoint can only handle smaller video files and the quality of the video is not the best.

Do not assume you can just play a video directly from YouTube. First of all, you don’t know how good the internet connection will be, you run the risk of buffering (the erratic streaming of the video), and paid streaming commercials or pop up advertising may get in the way. Ask the A/V company about any possibility of getting a direct file.


9- Not Using an Outside A/V Company
Many people don’t realize that you may not be required to use the in-house A/V vendor. In fact, it may be a more customized experience if you use an outside resource. Particularly if you have an established relationship and work with them throughout the year on various events. Plus there are not extra “service charges” that are typical with an in-house department.


10- Extra Charges for Rigging, Power and Internet Connection
When you hang anything from the ceiling such as lights, you may be charged a “rigging fee” by the venue, regardless of who you use for an A/V company. The cost is associated with how many “points” or locations are used from the ceiling. The need for additional power distribution or internet access can get costly as well. Again, get an accurate estimate ahead of time when creating your overall budget.



Lighting is one area where the more you spend

the more impact there is on the event.


11- Spending Your Budget in the Right Places
Optimize your budget where it counts. Look at the “must haves” for your event. For example, did you know you can spend “too much” on sound? Once you have determined the proper sound system, spending more money on it will not increase the quality. On the other hand, the more you spend on lighting, the better the event space will look and feel. Make a list of everything you want, and then prioritize the most important things you can afford.


12- Getting Professional Advice
Asking the advice from an experienced event production company is free and well worth the time and effort. You may find out you have all the information you need, or more importantly, learn some new tricks that you didn’t know before.

To find out more information about how to improve the A/V at your next event, visit our website at eventresources.com which includes a library of online resources including How to Guides on Lighting, Video Projection and Good Sound, along with a host of other topics.

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