If you work in the event industry, then you’ve heard of a technical producer. But how much thought have you paid to this role? And how much credit do you give to a technical producer? Well, you know that here at Endless we’ve covered the topic of labor several times. Whether it was a Whiteboard Wednesday or a blog post, we want to make sure you’re familiar with the human component of events. And a technical producer is one of those components, one that can make your event a lot better.
For those who are familiar with the Event Tech Podcast, you know our amazing hosts, Will Curran, and Brandt Krueger. But what you might not know is that Brandt Krueger is actually a technical producer himself! So who better to walk us through the specifications of this role, and how you can actually harness it to take your event to the next level? Take a seat, because you’re about to be schooled on the wonders of a technical producer!
As it often happens to the best of us, Brandt didn’t start out as a technical producer. Straight out of college and until his 30s, “I worked for a production company, a meeting and event production company out of Minneapolis”, he recalls. “There were things that I liked, and there were things that I didn’t like about the way that they were doing things, and eventually, we came to a very natural crossroads and left on good terms, and I still do a lot of work with them”.
The Click Moment
How did this experience change him? Or more precisely, how did it change the way he saw events? “One of the things that, early on, was kind of bugging me, was just presentations. Like, how do we make our presentations better? Because I had seen so many bad presentations from the back of the room, working in meeting and events”, Brandt explains.
This led to him doing research on the subject, especially with people on the field. “When I finally made the decision to go out on my own, it was based around this idea that I saw a gap in planners’ knowledge”, he says. “I kind of came out expecting to be what I considered a consultant, that the people would just pay me for my pearls of wisdom. But at the same time, I really wanted to keep my hands dirty”.
I’m Your Guy
Companies tend to rely on the fact that there’s always someone that understands the technical side of things. As Brandt puts it,
“all of those technical questions wind up getting filtered to that one person on the planning team, or someone in marketing, or something like that”. But then, a problem arises – “what if your organization doesn’t have that? What if your organization doesn’t have that person that is a little bit more technical, or you as a planner maybe know the basics of AV, but you don’t know all the details?”. Well, Brandt is your guy for that. The technical producer is your guy for that.
Technical Producer – The Role
At the end of the day, a technical producer is “an extension of the planning team. It’s someone who’s going to help you plan your event with the technical in mind, and is going to be able to help you decide, which event app do you want to use? All of the technology wrapped into one. So not just the AV, but the event app, and the kiosks, and the registration, they are really is going to be able to take ownership for all of that technical stuff on your event”.
Essentially, it’s a godsend to everyone involved in the preparation and execution of an event. “It really offloads all of the technical things onto this very specific role, and by not just focusing on the general session, or just focusing on the breakouts, I’m able to then bounce around and make sure that everything is being handled in a professional and quality way”.
At this point, you’ve probably realized a technical producer can be a huge plus. Particularly in this day and age. Take it from Brandt: “I think we are reaching the point with technology where technology is so much a part of our events at this point that having that point person, having that person that’s assigned to handle the technology, I think is becoming much more of a bigger and bigger thing”.
Technical Producer – The Skills
So what makes a good technical producer? What qualities and skills should you look for? Well, for starters, someone who has technical know-how and is willing to continuously learn. “Many times, just being able to ask questions, and understanding whether or not that answer makes sense is going to go a long way toward making sure that you’re getting the equipment that you need, and the technology that you need, at the right price”, says Brandt.
The Nitty Gritty
The Producer Side Of Things
Brandt adds that “it’s important, then, for that person not to get too sucked into any one thing. Because it’s a planner level. It’s at that top level where they’re helping the client, whether that’s an internal client or an external client, put their vision together. And that person is just responsible for the technology side of putting that vision together”.
Navigating relationships, but inside the company, and with customers, becomes a vital part of the role.
Where Do I Find You?
Okay, so you want a technical producer. That’s great! But where exactly do you find one? Well, according to Brandt, “Internally, that’s easy. You just say, “Okay, who’s got the most tech-savvy? All right, great, you’re the technical producer.” But yeah, finding that person can be a little difficult. It’s something that I’m pushing. I know a few of those cats, but they all kind of call themselves different things, right? Or they call themselves a producer, but really, their main area of expertise is the technology side”.
Overall, “it’s not an easy answer, unfortunately, and it just takes a little banging around to find those types of third party persons”. Google around, and try your luck. Or just call Brandt!
Technical Producer – Is It Easy?
“There’s not a lot of people who can check all the boxes, right?”, is a good point that Will brings up. “You can find someone who’s really good at tech, but they don’t understand the event aspect. You can find someone who’s a really good producer for general sessions, but they don’t understand how event apps work, or they don’t understand how wifi works”.
Brandt agrees and brings in the generalist vs specialist analogy into the picture. “I think a technical producer needs to be a generalist. They understand a little bit about how sound works, they understand a little bit about how lights work, a little bit about how computers work, a little bit about how apps work. Knowing a little bit about all of that stuff is going to help you weed out the BS and help you get the stuff that you need”.
Let’s Talk Budget
So, how much can you expect to be charged for a technical producer’s services? According to Brandt, “I usually do a flat rate, and then I’ll take that rate and kind of break it down into an hourly rate, and guesstimate. I’m getting pretty good at guessing how many hours of kind of prep time it’s going to take to do a show, so if they want to do a flat rate, we can kind of estimate that out, and say, “This includes 20 hours of pre-show prep,” which, by the way, goes very quickly”.
“So we do an hourly rate for that, flat rate for the day shows, a flat rate for a site visit, or something along those lines, and I would say a show like the one that I was just doing, depending on the complexity of it, you’re going to see day rates anywhere from $900 a day to $1,500 a day, and then hourly rates based on that”.
The Bottom Line
As one of Brandt’s clients cleverly put it, “I’m smart enough to know this stuff. I’m smart enough to learn this stuff. I just don’t want to”. All these technical aspects of an event that you don’t want to be bothered with can be done much better by someone who actually has the know-how.
As Brandt concludes, “it’s one of those things where taking that off of the planner’s plate and putting it squarely on someone else’s then frees them up to do the stuff that they did, the reason they did get into this business. So they can deal with the stakeholders, they can deal with the attendees, they can deal with the attendee experience, and the sponsors, and the internal stakeholders, or the client, and free them up to handle all of that rather than dealing with the increasingly complicated role of technology in our events”.
That’s all for this week’s Event Tech Podcast! Don’t forget to let us when you decide to hire a technical producer. And remember to tune in next week, for a brand new episode that covers all things tech and events!