When you're hosting an event of any size, there are a lot of details that have to come together. Chief among them is AV, because every event needs sound, visuals, and (usually) lighting. One of the best and easiest ways to avoid overlooking an important detail is to create a day of event checklist. You can use it to plan your event and also to literally check off each item as you review your final preparations.
Key questions to ask for any sized event
Really, your day-of checklist is a series of questions to ask yourself, because every event is different. So, what AV items need to be on that list for different sized events? Think equipment, labor, and set-up time, all of which will affect your AV budget. No matter how many guests you’re expecting, the size and shape of your venue, its overall acoustics, and seating arrangement will all have an impact on your AV choices. And, the larger your event, the more labor will be required for set-up, during the production, and strike.
Small Event (75-200 attendees)
- You may not need any sound equipment unless you have a presenter whose voice could use a boost. Not sure? Visit the venue with another person and pose as a presenter and back-of-room attendee. Can you hear the “presenter” without a mic?
- Will the presenter have slides, a PowerPoint, or a short video? You’ll need a screen, maybe more than one if the room is an odd shape.
- You may not need additional lighting, either. If your budget is tight, lighting is the best place to economize with a small event.
Set-up time: At least a half-day for a small event or break-out room set-up.
Budget: $5,000 - $20,000 (typical average is $10,000)
Medium Event (200-600 attendees)
- You may require a stage to assure uninterrupted viewing for everyone.
- A stage will require lighting, and the room itself will likely need extra lighting as well.
- You will definitely need a sound system to ensure everyone can hear easily and clearly.
- If there will be a presentation or you plan to project images, you’ll need screens. For this size audience, it is often preferable to hang the screens from overhead rigging. With a stage, an alternative would be ground-stacked screens.
Set-up time: At least a full day.
Budget: $15,000 - $50,000+ (typical average is $20,000)
Large Event (600-1500 attendees)
- It is essential that everyone be able to see and hear the action, whatever your event entails. It’s not a matter of merely adding more sound and video equipment, it’s how you design the entire space that will engage your audience. This is where the right AV team really has your back.
- With an event this size, lighting takes on a bigger role as well. It’s no longer simply a question of seeing across the room, lighting can entirely transform your venue. This is where your AV team can really show their creative side.
Set-up: Allow at least two days for set-up.
- Build in time for rehearsal, either the day before or the day of the event - or both. Rehearsal time is cheap compared to the embarrassment of audio/visual glitches (or bigger failures) during the event itself. You want every detail to be perfect.
Budget: $50,000 - $100,000+ (typical average is $75,000)
Extra-Large Event (1500-5000 attendees)
If you’re producing a spectacle, you want it to be spectacular! Unique. Riveting. An experience no one will ever forget.
There is no way to pre-judge how much audio-visual equipment or how much lighting you will need. You will have to explore your production hand-in-hand with your AV team, first creating an overall vision and then filling in the details.
Set-up: Plan at least two days for set-up.
- Include plenty of rehearsal time, too, because the more complex your event, the more details there will be to run through.
- Your AV team will determine how many crew members they need and when.
With an event of this magnitude, your most important decision will be choosing the AV company itself. Ask about their track record, especially with events like the one you hope to produce. Get references. If you don’t already know them, get to know them. Do you feel comfortable and confident they have what it takes to help make your event flawless?
Budget: $100,000 - $1,000,000+ (typical average is $250,000)
You want your event to be flawless, whether you’re hosting 50 people or 5,000. Yes, you have a budget, but there is a monumental difference between cutting corners and finding imaginative, affordable solutions. So, use your day-of-event checklist as a conversation starter with your AV team.
And ask yourself why you’re hosting this event. What do you hope to achieve? Because, in the end, the most important question you can ask is, what will it cost if my event misses the mark?