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.

I’ve met a lot of event planners over my career. If there’s one constant, regardless of the TYPE of event they plan (conferences, concerts, corporate gatherings) it’s that they are, well, planner people. They love to plan! Other industries may have more creative types, free-spirited folks drifting through the year from one interest to the next, but event planners love to make a plan, run the plan, and stick to the plan, with lists. 

What’s curious then is how there is such a lack of a standard when it comes to event planning project timelines. How soon is too soon? How late is too late? And when is it time to engage in which stage of planning? We’re not florists, caterers or interior designers, but we can definitely help establish a bit of a planning timeline when it comes to thinking about A/V and event production for your upcoming event. 

The Top 3 Considerations When Planning Your Event

  • It’s never too soon
    1. 30 days, 90 days, 11 months, 3 years, it’s never too soon to have an initial discussion with your A/V and event production vendor.
    2. Nothing is final until the day after the event. If you wait until you “have all your ducks in a row” to reach out to someone, you’re missing out on including them in the collaboration. 
  • Are you Planning an Annual Event or a One-Time Event?  
    1. Annual Events that happen on the “second Saturday in May” for instance need to be on the calendar of vendors a year in advance. If that date is a constant in your attendees’ eyes, it’s not something that can be flexible and moved if there’s a logistical conflict. Make sure your providers’ calendars are in-sync with yours. 
    2. Annual Events also can take less coordination than one-time events. For a recurring eventlike the Groundhog Day ceremony, everyone knows their role — the Parks and Recreation department likely runs the exact same playbook every year and is on auto-pilot. That makes your coordination simpler because it’s in a groove. One-time events take more coordination because for everyone involved, it is likely their first time working together. 
  • Budget Matters: Talk Money Early
    1. Make sure you have your big rocks in the jar. Budget items like event production can be a major percentage of the budget. These numbers should be set before incidental expenses pop-up in the days leading up-to your event. 
    2. Attendees’ perception of the event is often tied indirectly to production value. Knowing at the outset what you can spend on production sets the tone for the entire event experience budget. For instance, if you plan to bring in top-level presenters or A-level entertainment talent, there are unique production requirements that need to be supported by your provider. 

It’s Not Just Early Event Planning, It’s Smart Early Event Planning

Whether you’re 30 days out or 30 months out, we encourage you to engage your production provider as early as possible. Any hesitation around specifics, not being clear on needs, or waiting for a formal bid process are far outweighed by the value you gain by engaging professional expertise on day one. 

It’s far better to start with a Plan A, a v1 draft of a plan, and modify it with all parties involved than to hold your cards close to your chest and wait for a formal RFP process to engage others. The perceived cost savings can be tempting to pursue, but the greater indirect costs come from last-minute rushed planning and early decisions being made without regard for how it might affect production budgets. Event Production is expensive, we get it! We’re on a mission to make flawless production scalable, serving event planners on their biggest days of their year by managing production.