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Why have a great speaker and great content, if you can’t hear him or see him.
Yes, it does seem like a ridiculous question. But it seems that we have to ask some clients that question.

We all know that there are budget constraints. There always have been, but now there are much more. Deciding what is important in your meeting or event budget is crucial. What to keep in? What to omit?

Your answer will be the result of asking what is the purpose of the meeting or event? Hopefully, that answer is evident. If not, you really need to go back to square one.

A meeting or conference should be content driven. Yes, attendees want to network, and that’s another important component. But, good content makes it worthwhile to spend the money and the time to be there.

But…. Why have good content if no one can hear what is being said or see who is speaking?

Having the right microphones and sound system is an important investment in the success of your program.

Having a technician on site is essential. A sound check is essential. But, stuff happens. Everything could be working perfectly, and suddenly not work at all. Most likely not, but you never know. If something goes wrong, the tech will be there to take care of it immediately.

Request that new batteries are used for the wireless microphones and there are more batteries available. Rehearse where your speakers will be, and if they’re “walkers” make sure that they won’t be walking right in front of the speakers from your sound system. That could cause feedback. Run through the entire session, so there are no surprises and “oops” moments. Know who is speaking when, and where so you have the correct mic ready. Your sound technician will know the differences in the way people speak. One speaker may speak loudly, another very softly. He’ll be ready for those nuances. If a speaker can’t be at the rehearsal, a good technician is alert and listens closes, so he will make the changes quickly no matter what. He should be given the script or running order of the program, especially if this is a plenary session. This sort of preparation helps you have the best chance of a smooth program.

Definitely, for a large audience use I-Mag. Seeing the facial expression from the back of the room is very important. Again, why bother spending money on a great speaker or entertainment if you can’t see them?

If your budget will allow it go for a 2 or 3 camera video package rather than a single camera, as the different angles will make the I-Mag more interesting. If you’re going to edit the video shot at your meeting ( a really good idea as a promotional for next year’s meeting), you’ll have really interesting footage to work with. You might even put this video on your website.

Lighting is the next important thing in the mix. You must light your speakers or panelists so the I-Mag and your recorded video is good quality. Actually, I don’t mean just lighting. Sure there’s light in the room, but I mean correct lighting. This will make a tremendous difference in the session and final video.

An additional thought about this. Just as you are a professional planner who knows what happens when a non-professional plans a meeting, in turn, you should outsource the meeting or event production end of this to a professional producer. Not that you’re not a pro, but no doubt you’ve been involved in every other aspect of your meeting, and that certainly is a lot. You would work with your producer who will understand what you want and need and will make sure all goes smoothly for you. He or she will have backup equipment, bulbs, batteries, cables, etc. ready. The producer will also in the long run help you keep within budget, because he knows what is really needed and will be cost effective for you as well and give you not just ROI, but ROE (return on event). The event producer can be a critical component to success.

But what about a small program with, maybe 50 people. It’s a really good idea to bring in a small sound system for this, too. Many rooms have terrible acoustics and the speaker can’t be heard. Again, why bother having the program if you can’t hear anyone? And, don’t forget if there is Q&A in any size meeting, make sure that those who are asking a question, are given a microphone. I recently attended an excellent panel discussion, where there was no sound system. We constantly heard from the audience of approximately 40, “can you repeat that?”. Obviously that’s a tremendous distraction and takes away from the quality of the content.

Trying to save money on these things is “pennywise and pound foolish” or like that credit card commercial says “priceless”.