Event planning is a high-pressure job. It requires months of strategic planning and attention to detail to ensure a successful representation of your company or non-profit organization.

Throughout this process, you communicate with numerous individuals, discussing countless details. With so much on your plate, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed when your A/V company starts throwing around terms like “gobos” and “edisons.” And while it’s their responsibility to explain their solutions clearly, understanding production terms will empower you to effectively communicate your needs.

Why Learning Your A/V Company’s Production Terms Matters

Juggling multiple tasks while orchestrating a great show can be challenging. At its core, production involves leveraging various technologies to effectively communicate your message to your audience. Familiarizing yourself with the names and uses of these technologies will help you make informed decisions when selecting equipment for your event.

This knowledge will also enable you to plan your budget more effectively and have meaningful discussions with your A/V company regarding your specific event requirements.

Your Event Is Important – Make Sure You’re Set Up For Success

Your message deserves to be heard by the right audience. Determine how many attendees should be present and select a suitable date for hosting the event. Consider whether an in-person gathering or a virtual conference would better serve your audience’s needs. Just like building a house, start with the basics when brainstorming your event.

Once you have a vision in mind, it’s time to plan the event’s details. For example, let’s say you decide on a hybrid conference with a main stage, large screens, and a side stage for live performances. Having knowledge of production terms will empower you to effectively communicate your vision to the production company.

Here’s an example: You can request having enough decks in the GS area to accommodate an 8-person panel with lavs. The band will require backline equipment, with wedge monitors for all band members except the lead, who prefers IEM as stated in their rider. Additionally, you’ll need bi-directional streaming capabilities for remote presenters and seamless at-home Q&A sessions. By utilizing these production terms, you’ll streamline communication during the initial planning stages.

Once all the technical details have been ironed out between you and your production company, they will provide you with a quote. Equipped with a strong understanding of production terminology, you can align yourself with the specifics of the quote and ensure all your requirements are met.

Finally, the day of your event arrives. It’s the culmination of all your hard work and planning. As you witness everything falling into place just as you envisioned, remember that you can always rely on production terms to ask questions and seek clarifications onsite.

Knowing the Production Language Will Allow Confidence On Your Big Day

Mastering production terminology allows you to further navigate the event planning process with confidence. By understanding the language of production, you can effectively communicate your needs, ensure seamless execution, and deliver a memorable event that captivates your audience.

For years, planning timelines for annual events were 364 days long. As soon as this year’s event ended, the event planner could let everyone begin working on next year’s event.

Corporate event planning has changed. Timelines have been sliced by 1/3rd. Decision-makers make decisions later and later. How do you stay calm when you have 1/3rd of the time? What about 1/3 of the necessary budget with 3x the work in detail changes or additions?

By the end of this article, you will have a better idea of the details you need to execute and the distractions you need to avoid. Let’s discuss how you can get 3x the work done in 1/3rd the time.

Stuck With a Short Event Planning Timeline? Here’s What To Do

If you’re reading this in the heat of a compressed timeline, immediately begin fleshing out your checklist using the guidance below.

First things first…

The best way to tackle a giant problem is to take it one detail at a time, starting with the highest priority items. For events, here are the details to get figured out the right way:

  1. When and where is the event (get exact times and addresses)?
  2. What is your budget? (Your production provider should be able to explain how you can best utilize every budget dollar.)
  3. Who is available (on your team, production-tech partners, venues, caterers, etc.)?

Now that your biggest details are figured out let’s work our way down to the checklist. When it comes to events, the next most important details are:

  1. How many attendees will be there? (Not sure? Put a rough estimate.)
  2. Will the event be in-person, virtual, or hybrid?
  3. Will the venue be outdoor or indoor?

Now that the broad details are noted, it is time to assemble a team. Decisions can’t be made without decision-makers. When your planning timeline gets compressed, you need power in numbers. The most efficient task force will consist of:

  • Decision makers from your organization. When working on a short planning timeline, it saves time to have decision-makers directly involved.
  • A quality production provider. The technical details of your event (audio, video, and lighting) are the most complex and time intensive, so let the experts take care of this. Since events are their expertise, a quality production provider can help with much more than the nerdy stuff. This is one of the most valuable details to get right when planning.
  • Other event planners. Someone has dealt with your situation before, so let them walk you through it and give advice. This will cut back on dead ends and save time.

Now that your high-level details are decided and your task force is assembled, you probably feel a lot less stress., But we are not at the finish line yet. Now let’s take care of the fine details.

Don’t Forget About These Two Important Details.

  1. Get on people’s calendars. What’s the first thing you ask when someone inquires about you planning an event for them? What’s the date? The best professionals in the world can’t help you if they’re unavailable. Get on people’s calendars early and often. Don’t allow yourself to spiral out of control with every meeting becoming a fire drill. Set an early, middle, and late overall meeting during your three days, three weeks, or three months of planning. Get that on their calendars. Establish now that you need to place holds on presenter calendars for the day before dress rehearsal, the week before offline rehearsal, or the month before content reviews. Don’t be caught by surprise when you get declines the day before if you haven’t sent calendar invite planner requests further than the week before.
  2. Communicate to your audience ahead of time. How will they know if someone doesn’t tell them? Don’t make the mistake of doing all this work behind the scenes only to realize that attendees have been left in the dark. Make sure you are communicating with your internal leadership stakeholders and external vendors, but most importantly, with the audience you’re doing all of this work for in the first place. Do they know what to expect? Are you inspiring them by getting their wheels turning and thinking about the biggest day of the year?

Recognize Which Elements of Event Planning You Can Not Control

Plan B Versus “Let It Go”

Some variables are just out of your control. These things need to be listed, thought over, and then ultimately decided on whether to make a Plan B or just let go. Don’t be blindsided when these things pop up halfway through your tight timeline. Give them thought early on and either have alternatives or let them roll off your back. For example, what if a presenter gets sick? Audiences and vendors can get sick, but with presenters, the show must go on. So, decide early which presenters you need a Plan B substitute alternative for to still cover the content and which presenters can’t be replaced. So you know which ones you’d just have to let it go for.

Plan for Snowplows

What could snowplow your entire planning timeline? “Snowplow” means push, postpone, or delay, causing things to pile up.

For example, you may have your creative team draft an event logo and send it to your leader’s desk. If they don’t respond within 24hrs, every step downstream (RSVP design, print, on-screen graphics) begins to pile up. Your vendors who had 72hrs to turn around their iterations of that logo now have 48hrs. Plan for these snowplows and set expectations with the highest urgency only where needed, or risk being the boy who cried wolf. Build trust with your leadership that you need certain things quickly. Otherwise, the snowplow alternative comes into play.

Watch for Wrecking Balls

Snowplows you can plan for, wrecking balls you cannot. You can’t have a plan for everything, but you need to keep an eye out. If you’re planning an in-person event and some national news shifts travelers’ ability to come and go, that’s a wrecking ball. Moments like these are when Hybrid Events are the best. Being able to flip between 90% in-person and 10% online to vice versa is really helpful for wrecking ball situations. The same goes for date changes and postponing. It’s much simpler to adjust travel coordination for a small group of in-person live studio audience members than for the entire meeting’s attendance registration list to get rebooked on flights.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Speaking of letting go, you aren’t going to be able to hold onto everything. It’s not practical or healthy, and your people need you healthy for the big day. You might have to let go of some details, like the exact color of the balloons or the font of the invite. Otherwise, you risk taking your eye off the prize. Keep your eyes on the overall goal, a great event for attendees and/or vendors/sponsors.

You have to define and get alignment from leadership on what the prize is, and in some cases, that might mean exact colors or serifs. But in most cases, the main thing is keeping “the main thing” the main thing.

Planning Ahead is the Key to Staying Calm

The event industry is full of incredible stories of crews overcoming the unfathomable in the name of “the show must go on.” In our industry, there is a universal appreciation for those who can stay calm under pressure. Hopefully, these concepts have inspired you to remain calm and use checklists to plan more efficiently. When time is ticking, nothing can be done to gain more of it, but strategizing and taking action on checklist items can help bring peace to your future self. Don’t wait until tomorrow to do what could be done today.

It’s 10 minutes until the start of your organization’s biggest event of the year. The pressure is on. You feel the rush of adrenaline knowing that months of planning and preparation have led up to this moment. Looking around, what is it that you want to see? You have planned and accounted for every detail – that’s what you want to see.. You want to feel confident in knowing your presenter(s) and show flow have been tested and that they are ready and prepared. The mics are working clearly, the lights are perfectly placed, the cameras are in their proper position and your AV team is primed, organized, and in equal anticipation of the event kick-off.

The opposite side of that scenario doesn’t sound quite as sweet. It only adds to your nervousness if you see the AV team running around in distress trying to make last-minute improvements or adjustments. The mics squeal consistently with feedback. The lights are super bright in some places, and completely dark in other spots. The cameras recording your show are shaky and just barely out of focus. These impressions matter. They matter to everyone involved.

How did you choose your AV team? In-House? Budget? Quality? Reputation? Referral? Or did you Google “production company near me”? What matters in the moment your show begins is that your vision and your message is portrayed with detail-oriented precision for a flawless experience for both you, your team, and your participants.

Your primary criteria when vetting a production company should never be about proximity to your event. The best, most experienced production partners you can find are used to traveling their teams to wherever they need to be — and staying within budget.

The Top 3 Reasons Why Your Production Company Partner’s Location Does Not Matter

  1. Production Companies who travel are often more experienced. Your event will be top-notch, every time.
  2. It’s one of your team’s most important days, don’t hold back on partnering with an A.V. team that best fits your needs.
  3. It takes roughly the same amount of time to set up, tear down, and complete your event. Hiring the right team will ensure this process is effortless and efficient.

There is an immense amount of detail that goes into making an event flawless. If even a small portion of those technicalities go wrong, it negatively affects the participant’s experience. To get these details right, you need a production company with a proven track record of excellence. A team that pays close attention to detail and has experience navigating and preparing for every scenario. For example, let’s say your show is in a local arena. You don’t need a production team that knows that specific arena your event is in, you need a production team that has deep experience with arenas. This also takes an immense amount of pressure off you and your team.

Your show took a lot of effort to make happen. No element should be spared in creating a flawless event experience for your audience. Similar to a photographer on your wedding day, you’re not just going to hire one who is close to the venue. It’s your big day! You’re going to hire one that matches your vibe, one you trust, and one that knows what they’re doing so you don’t have to worry about a thing when it comes to capturing the moments you want to remember. Hiring your production company with this same mindset can enhance your event and ensure it’s everything you’ve dreamed it could be.

You took our advice on the first two points (Nice job!). You hired a production team, regardless of location, with the highest standards of excellence in service and skill for your event. When you hire a production team with additional experience, setting up and tearing down events becomes effortless. Time is money. Teams who consistently produce events of similar scope are able to keep costs manageable even if they have to travel. Having an experienced production team that can optimize their time and effort is a great advantage and extra insurance for an impeccable show.

Your event is your biggest day of the year. Treat it as such. Don’t hold back on hiring a production team that fits your needs. Search nationwide for the right team instead of one who is close to your venue.

If cost is a worry for your event, rest assured that our team at avad3 has a system in place to keep traveling for events extremely cost-effective. Our team runs an analysis nationally to keep our costs extremely competitive.

Helping clients determine, “to Rig or not to Rig” is always a key part in helping them in planning. As their event production partner we understand that production is often one of their largest budget items, and we take that very seriously.

Production plans can affect event planner budget line items outside of just A/V. Often, venues charge additional fees to allow production to rig, or hang items from the ceiling, in their ballrooms.

We do most of our production planning for our clients via Zoom as they are located all across the country. After hopping off a planning call explaining the venue’s rigging estimate, it made sense to grab a quick video sharing the same information on rigging with a larger audience.

Our hope is that information like this informs you, and ultimately makes you a better steward of your precious budget dollars. We’re honored to be a part of their event and after years of building trust play an active role in their team’s plans. We’d love to do the same for your event.

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