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AV can make or break your event. Great AV and your event will run seamlessly. AV should enhance your event vision and help you achieve your goals. On the other hand, event AV mistakes can leave your guests wishing they never came and can make your event the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons. A bad AV mistake like projectors that stop working during your keynote bringing the presentation to a halt, will make attendees immediately regret coming.

Managing the many moving parts in an event can often be stressful and certain components can be neglected or forgotten. Specifically, your AV and event production are some of the most crucial factors for success at your event. But AV can seem overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with the terms. Fortunately, we’re here to help you. Below are the top event AV Mistakes we see at events and how you can avoid them. Some of these event AV mistakes will cause a minor annoyance, others can completely ruin your event, check out the list below to make sure you avoid these pitfalls at your next event. Planning an event? Watch our free webinar How To Avoid An Event AV Disaster.


#15. Hiring Your AV Company Too Late

Your AV company should be one of the first vendors you hire. In fact, you should ideally hire your AV company before you even sign your venue contract. If you hire them before the venue they can be your advocate in finding the best location for your event. A good AV company will help you determine if the venue fits your needs and vision. They will also help negotiate out any unnecessary venue fees. This will save a lot of hassle and help your budget.

#14. Can I just use an in-house AV?

Before you sign your life away with an in-house provider, compare costs, features, and services with an out-of-house provider. And compare more than one company! Many in-house providers are convenient but can be more costly and often times the benefits of using in-house AV do not outweigh the negatives. Out-of-house providers may be more affordable. They also might be capable of providing custom services specifically for your event. Independent AV companies work for you, not the venue so they will always have your best interest at heart.

av mistakes

#13. AV Mistakes: Not Understanding Your AV Quote

AV quotes can seem like another language. If you aren’t familiar with AV terms you may not really understand what you are getting. Often, if it’s within your budget you assume it’s OK and just sign the quote. This is a big mistake!

Ask your AV company to do a quote walk-through were they walk you through your quote line-by-line and explain everything in layman’s terms. If you don’t understand what something means ask! In your AV quote walkthrough, you will have the opportunity to ask hard questions and ensure you have the equipment you need and not anything you don’t! Knowledge is power when it comes to AV, download our free AV Quote Guide and arm yourself with everything you need to know going into the AV quoting process. This will empower you to make the best decisions for your event!

#12. Not factoring the “rigging points”

Rigging is a big part of events, chances are if anything is suspended from the cieling you need rigging points. A rigging point is a place within the venue that is approved to hang equipment from. First, work with your AV company to establish what parts of your event will need to be hung. Determine how many points will be required for each hanging item. Pay extra attention to heavier hanging items and ensure they have enough support. Second, locate where the rigging points are within the event. Pre-plan where each item will be hung to avoid additional costs and check with your venue before you sign the contract whether or not rigging points and included in the cost. If they are not included you can try to negotiate this fee out before signing.

#11. Skimping on Audio

Everybody at your event will notice bad audio. Bad audio will have your guests tuning out at an alarming rate. When you are planning your event consider the audio experience from the very front row, the middle and all the way in the back. If your room is exceptionally large the back row might need “delayed” speakers to provide additional sound. It’s also important to consider what your sound system is being used for and to let your AV company know. For example, if you have a surprise musical performance taking place let your AV company know so they can suggest the best speakers possible for the experience. If you don’t let your AV company know the performance will likely fall flat.

#10. AV Mistakes: Neglecting Your AV Team

Your AV team should be partners! They are on your side and want to make your event the best it possibly can be. Instead of viewing the AV team as a strictly behind the scenes element, make sure they feel included. Talk to the staff and call them by their names! Allow time for breaks, provide them lunch if you can. The simplest way to show appreciation is to let them know when a job is well done! A little bit of attention will go a long way and your AV team will be willing to go the extra mile should any changes in schedule occur, or disaster strikes because they will feel like a team member. Your problems will become their problems and they will go above and beyond to help you solve them.

#9. Not Understanding Event WiFi

This is a newer event AV mistake we are seeing. Venues are now charging for WiFi or sometimes waiving fees when you hire their In-House AV. We’ve seen venue WiFi costs grow astronomically. It can seem like a huge relief to have that fee waived but all that glitters isn’t gold. Always check on the details “free WiFi” because free WiFi that sucks can ruin your event.

In order to understand what you really need for your event check out our event bandwidth calculator. You need to see how fast the WiFi is, how many people it can support, if it’s a dedicated source, how to properly secure it and so much more! If the venue WiFi doesn’t fit your needs you can always negotiate to use a 3rd-Party Supplier who will be able to tailor the WiFi to exactly what you need for your event.

#8. AV Mistakes: Not considering the number of audio inputs

Most sound mixing boards have a limited number of inputs available. This could spell disaster if you end up needing more inputs for your microphones than the sound mixing board has. To avoid this mistake, count every audio input that your event will require (including back-ups!) before your event. We recommend adding a couple extra for additional security. Once you know how many audio inputs you will have, make sure your sound mixer board is compatible. You may need to supply an additional sound mixer board if you have too many inputs.

#7. Not considering the number of visual inputs

Similar to audio inputs count every visual input that your event will require. You may need multiple video switchers depending on the number of inputs you have. Again, it won’t hurt to account for a few extra last-minute inputs.

#6. AV Mistakes: Forgetting To Communicate Event Changes

This mistake can create a huge blow to your budget! If you fail to communicate changes in your event whether it’s the schedule, event location or something else this can lead to surprise costs for event labor, equipment and more. To avoid common this AV mistake, when anything changes at your event let your AV company know right away and ask for an updated quote. This will allow you to see the effect your changes have on the overall budget and you will not be hit with any fees or surprises later on.

#5. Assuming everyone is ready

The worst thing you can do is assume every vendor and event staff are ready for your event. Always communicate with every person involved. Two weeks before the event, have a meeting with everyone and discuss the expectations and what is required before, during, and after the event. This way everyone will be on the same page and aware of their own responsibilities in addition to each other’s roles. It might even be helpful to create a document that states each person’s role and send it out to the team. One week before the event, reach out to each individual and ensure they are fully prepared, repeat any mission-critical information again at this time. Two days before the event, remind each individual of their responsibilities and when they are required to be at the event. This may seem redundant but is extremely crucial for a successful event. Clear communication and understanding will go a long way to prevent any hiccups.

#4. AV Mistakes: Incorrect formats for presentations

This is probably the most common AV mistake and it’s a big one! Imagine, your presenter arrives for the most anticipated keynote of the conference with their presentation in the wrong format. They’ve created a presentation in the outdated aspect ratio, standard screen (4:3) but you’ve designed a stage with a cutting edge triple wide-screen, now their presentation doesn’t even fill up ⅓ of the space and the audience can’t even read it! This is a huge fail! And it’s not the only way formatting can go wrong, we’ve also see presenters bring in presentations created on Apple’s Keynote only to find out the conference is running PC’s for presentations leaving their creation unable to even be opened. While these situations make for major disasters, they are entirely avoidable with some communication far before the big event!

During the quote process talk to your AV company about what type of formats and aspect ratios your presenters should create content in. Relay that information to speakers immediately and have them begin creating their content within the required parameters. This way everyone will be informed and well prepared to make the best presentation possible.

As an extra precaution, schedule a rehearsal with your AV company. This allows time to test all projectors, presentations, and screens prior to the event. Make sure they know you want a rehearsal ahead of time so they can accurately quote labor for your event. Taking these steps will ensure everything is correct or allow for fixes before the presentation, avoiding this common AV mistake!

#3. Assuming Set-up and Tear-Down Will be Quick!

It’s commonly assumed that your event can be set-up and tore-down quickly. In most cases, it’s not that simple. You want everything to be set-up safely and accurately to avoid any disasters during your event, so allow time for it to be done right. Be sure to incorporate travel time, parking, unloading, organization, plug-in, and set-up for each vendor.

It is not uncommon to need more than one day to set-up and tear-down an event, always talk to your AV company about how long they need. It’s also critical to ask your venue when your vendors are allowed to set-up and tear-down, check to see when the loading dock is available for use, and freight elevators. Ask if it’s possible to set-up the day before your event, but don’t assume it is the venue may have another event going on that day. When you get all the info relay that back to your AV company. Tight turn arounds in set-up or tear-down times could lead to overtime labor charges so the sooner you know what time everything can take place, let your AV company know.

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#2. AV Mistakes: Trying to cut costs with AV

AV is typically one of the most expensive components of an event. AV executed poorly can also ruin your event and vision. If you have a budget you need to stick to let your AV company know what that number is, but don’t stop there! Also let the AV company know your events visions and goals, this way your AV company can help make decisions on where to try to save costs based on your needs.

If you see an item in your quote that seems expensive and you aren’t sure why ask about it!  It may be a crucial item, or it might be something you can switch out. See what the difference would be if you change your equipment to a lower model. Maybe you have a $2000 projector on your quote and you could go down to a lower lumen projector to save. You may save money but maybe you will have a worse event experience and people won’t be able to see your presentations. On the other hand, maybe you believe something is needed for your event but you could accomplish the same effect with another less expensive alternative.  

Trying to cut costs of AV without understanding the overall effect that cut has on your event is a major event AV mistake! If you have a great AV team they will guide you through this process. They can suggest what you can cut back without it affecting your overall vision. 

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#1. Skipping Equipment Backups

Ever been to an event where the projectors go down and everything comes to a screeching halt until the presentation comes back up? Don’t let this happen to you! Always have equipment backups at your event. Technology can stop working no matter how new it is or well it was set up. Anything crucial to your event needs to have a backup in place and ready to go should equipment fail. Always make sure your AV company has a backup mission critical items like projectors, computers, and microphones. Also, make sure your speakers have backups of their presentations. Make sure these items are on hand at your event, not in a truck or a warehouse down the street, you want them out and ready to work immediately should any problems occur!

AV Mistakes: Conclusion

Ultimately, the key to avoiding these common event AV mistakes comes down to organization and clear communication. If you follow the list of how to avoid the top AV mistakes in event planning, your event will be one step closer to a perfect event!

Do you still want to know more? Download the top 20 AV mistakes below! 

av mistakes to avoid

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on August 6, 2015, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Kaitlin Colston

Author Kaitlin Colston

Kaitlin Colston is the Content Alchemist at Endless Events — one of the leading publications in the events industry. With a passion for helping others and learning, she focuses on empowering eventprofs through content by sharing her knowledge gained from over 10 years in the events and marketing space.

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