Category Archives: Tips for Meeting Planners

Receptions as Fundraisers, Family Events, and More

networking By Al Rickard

Networking is an essential part of every major meeting, and arranging a comfortable venue with the right atmosphere, food and drink, and the ability to foster meaningful connections is important. Adding a theme can make them memorable, some can serve as effective fundraisers, and many can even help foster a family atmosphere at conferences where attendees bring their kids. At the same time, controlling costs is also critical.

Industry professionals who use posted some of their own pointers for receptions in the Stellar Tips section of the website. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Fundraising Leverage

“ASAE has created a powerful fundraising reception with its popular ASAE Foundation Classic event that attracts a sizeable number of annual meeting attendees each year, who pay extra to attend,” says Al Rickard, CAE, of Association Vision. “It even has a VIP pre-reception event for an even higher fee. They bring in big-name entertainment and make it memorable experience, providing a strong event that fills a key night at the meeting, brands the Foundation, and raises significant funds for it.”

Rickard adds, “Receptions are also ideal venues for silent auctions, as PCMA and other associations have done successfully. They add an interesting dimension, spark friendly competition in bidding on popular items, and raise money for worthy causes.”

Family Affairs

Many major conferences have become “family events” as attendees bring their kids and turned the trip into a vacation.

“Since our convention has become a family vacation, we created a teen hospitality suite and program,” says Kristin Lewis with the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers. “The first night – during the welcome reception – we have a teen activity such as bocce games, croquet or wii bowling so the kids get to know each other, and then each teen gets a key to the teen hospitality suite where they go to load up on snacks and sodas, play video games, watch movies and hang out (the suite is attached to a staff member’s room so they can check on them). It keeps the teens entertained and connected and they want to come back every year to see their friends again – bringing their parents along.”

Watching the Bottom Line

Karin Soyster with the American Bakers Association has this advice: “If you have attendees who travel with children for meetings, consider having a pizza party for kids during the opening reception. Have an age restriction (over 6) and consider charging a nominal fee ($10). Many resorts and hotels have kids programs anyway. Parents can drop off their kids when they go to the reception, and kids have something to do.”

“For welcome receptions and tradeshows, I arrange to have some food passed by the servers (the most expensive stuff!), rather than leaving it all out,” says Marion Fuller, CMP, with the Canadian Medical Association. “The food can then be distributed as attendees arrive and also enables attendees to move around exhibits, talk to each other and network without diving immediately for the food tables. The server can also explain what they are serving.”

Debbie DeJacques with the Grocery Manufacturers Association adds, “If you’re having a reception, pass/butler the more expensive items (you’ll be able to make them last longer and save money) and don’t set plates on the display table – use only napkins (this will ensure your attendees get to sample all the offerings but won’t walk away from the display station with a mound of food). Also stick with beer and wine at the bar.”

Mark Gable with the Federal Business Council also has this cost-saving advice: “When planning a reception menu, do not order hors’ d oeuvres by the piece because they are eaten rapidly, and can quickly become very costly. Order items that are carved (turkey, ham, etc) and chef stations (pasta, Mexican, etc.), because people won’t fill their plates as full, making the food last longer. Sheet cakes are also a good dessert for the same reason.”

Promoting Upcoming Destinations

Many associations like to close out their conferences by promoting the next one and a reception can be a great way to do that.

“Hold a destination luncheon or reception during your current conference,” advises Angela Orlando with the American Society of Home Inspectors. “Drum up support from next year’s host city by bringing in a destination specific band, decor, food, etc. A sign or banner may work, but why stop there? You’ve got a captive audience…give them the whole experience!

New Question and Answer Series

Meeting planners have a wealth of knowledge, and are happy to share it! If  you have a burning question, comment below, and one of your peers will offer some advice!

Question: How can I improve my vendor relationships?

Answer: It’s never too late to start forming good relationships with the facilities where you conduct business.

For example if you are on a tight budget and are holding your meeting at a facility that is potentially oversold on housing, you have a great chance of negotiating an arrangement that is beneficial to both you and the hotel.

Contact your sales person or CSM and tell them you’ve heard they may be having some housing challenges and you’d like to offer them some help. If you are holding upgrade rooms, tell them you’d be willing to exchange your upgraded rooms for standard rooms in exchange a meeting comp. Suggest something you know the hotel will not cost them out of pocket (i.e., in-house technology, waiver of nonunion labor/delivery charges, comp room rental). Most of the time the hotel will be more than happy to negotiate because they will be able to happily accommodate both (or all) of their clients.

Answer Submitted by: Tina Buehler, CMP Conference Planning Manager, with Q Center

Tips to Manage Risk and Liability When Liquor Is Served

This is a reprint of some of our favorite tips to share during the holiday season. Enjoy and stay safe!

Lawyers will tell you whether you’re giving alcohol away or selling it at an event, anyone who has control over the facility or the event is typically liable if an intoxicated person causes bodily injury or property damage as a result of the liquor served at that event.

The good news is, provided the meeting planner isn’t pouring the drinks, they normally would not be at much risk of being held personally liable. When an employee is acting in the scope of their employment, liability usually rests with the employer, not the individual.

That good news, however, does not typically extend to independent meeting planners or third-party meeting planners who are independent contractors and not employees. In these instances, the meeting planner could be held liable along with the company, depending on the circumstances.

“The only way to eliminate liquor liability is to eliminate alcohol from your event,” says Marilyn Hauck, founder and president of The Complete Conference and a 20-year veteran in the meetings industry who plans, markets, and manages meetings and events of all sizes. “A non-alcohol event is often not an option, so the next best way to reduce your liability is to create an environment that discourages overdrinking.”

Hauck suggests these steps to take to keep your attendees from overindulging and to reduce liquor liability:

Give written instructions to bartenders not to serve persons who are either underage or noticeably intoxicated.

Establish a monitoring system to ensure that minors and intoxicated persons are not served alcohol.

• Designate someone from the planning team to refrain from drinking during the function to monitor the bartenders.

Avoid self-service bars and kegs of beer.

• Control the length of the cocktail reception and don’t announce last call.

• Always provide food and non-alcoholic beverages where alcohol is served.

Arrange transportation – or a place to stay – in advance.

Buy liquor liability insurance if your organization is the server or seller.

• Make sure the group has a standard operating procedure for handling attendees who have had too much to drink.

Since its inception in 1979, the mission of The Complete Conference, Inc., has been to develop and implement high quality cost-effective meetings with professionalism, integrity, customer satisfaction and dependability. The company can be reached at 916-922-7032 or

What are some of your steadfast rules for such events? Maybe we will add your tips to the list!

Meeting Planning Lessons from The Book of Mormon

What meeting planning lessons can we glean from the popular Tony-award-winning Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon?

Plenty, as it turns out.

At a learning lab at the ASAE 2016 Annual Meeting entitled, “What the Musical The Book of Mormon Taught Me About Association Management,“ seven association professionals used The Book of Mormon as a metaphor to offer association management lessons about leadership, membership recruitment, branding, social media, humor, diversity, and yes, meeting planning.

The session was created and moderated by Sheri Singer, president of Singer Communications, and drew about 500 attendees.

Tom Quash, CAE, Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Publications at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), encouraged session attendees to script an inspirational story at their conferences, much as the one of the lead characters in The Book of Mormon did as he worked to convert skeptical villagers in Uganda to the Mormon faith.

“At AWHONN, we celebrate the daily work of our nurses and underscore Connection — a core belief that we know our members value,” Quash explained. “We weave the connection messaging into social media, marketing, and speeches throughout the convention. You know the old adage about the elevator pitch: you must simply state your story and build your script around it.”

Cast of Characters

Next, consider your cast of characters.

“Who is responsible for telling your story at your convention?,” Quash asked. “The CEO? The Chair? Both? You can also have dual roles but they should be positioned purposefully and intentionally.”

He cautioned executives to not try to make a storyteller funny if that doesn’t mesh with their mission or style, and instead leverage the talents of each individual to create a great cast.

“Who can speak with authority when necessary?” he asked. “Who can add levity? Which speakers will best support the story? Does your cast represent a fair balance of your membership or constituents? How many industry partners should be represented? Have you considered diversity, in all its forms?”

Quash noted that at the end of a great play, it’s the cast that receives the hearty applause and the standing ovations.

“For example, think about your general session,” Quash suggested. “When that is over, you want your attendees to be touched or re-energized by what they have heard.”

Creating the Stage

“Does the décor on your main stage reflect your brand and your story?,” Quash asked. “Don’t overlook the opportunity to leverage staging, music and lighting to help create a theatrical experience. If you can, consider using what Broadway plays use all the time the ‘Wow’ factor. Think about the chandelier crashing in Phantom of the Opera–that’s a wow factor.

“You may not have a Broadway budget, but you can still make it theatrical. One year, we had a rock-and-roll pit band during the General Session instead of piped-in music. Another year, our Board Chair took the stage from the audience, rather than backstage, followed by dozens of student members to tell that year’s story of our commitment to the next generation,” Quash explained.

According to Quash, like it or not, your association is competing for attention with free and open access to online content, web-based communities, apps, streaming, Netflix, and even Pokemon Go.

“Your story and your stage cannot come across as stale or disconnected with the expectations or even demands of your members,” Quash said. “Your venue, the city, your networking events, your tradeshow, and more are all ‘stages’ for you to support the experience.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Quash is an advocate of dress rehearsals to make sure “the show” flows without a hitch.

“Rehearsals help determine if the timing is right,” he explained. “Are all the cues in place? Where will your VIPs sit? Are your presenters comfortable with their delivery?”

Quash says it’s also important to consider “what if?” scenarios and have a plan to act accordingly.

“What if a speaker doesn’t show up? What’s the plan to communicate this? What if the fire marshal is onsite and shuts down a room due to overcrowding? What if there’s a weather event that threatens the safety of your attendees?” he asked.

While Quash notes that you can’t plan for every conceivable scenario, you can be prepared for at least some unexpected developments.

Selling Your Show

You can’t start too early when it comes to selling your next conference, Quash declared.

“The selling starts at least a year in advance, at your current convention,” he believes. “While attendees are in the midst of a great experience, you want them to get excited for the following year. Talk up next year, as ASAE routinely does.”

Quash says at AWHONN they test story messages to determine what is resonating with their key audiences. They also explore new marketing platforms.

“Direct mail, email and advertising may be effective, but have you leveraged content marketing?” Quash queries. “Do you have a digital marketing strategy? Can you use your chapter or sections to act as champions? Are there bloggers that can help support the conference promotion? Don’t underestimate their reach and impact.”

Be sure that you provide your members, leaders and other stakeholders with the right tools to help you sell the show, Quash suggested.

“With a compelling story, great cast, inviting staging, detailed rehearsals and smart selling, you’ll create your very ownBook of Mormon – a theatrical, memorable experience for your members,” said Quash.

Al Rickard, CAE, is President of Association Vision, a Washington, DC-area communications company, and serves as Director of Communications for

Five Reasons to Use RFP Organization

rfp organizationCollecting RFP responses can be a hassle, but it does not have to be.

Here are five reasons you should give’s RFP Organization a try:

1. RFP responses are organized on a comparison chart for you
2. Receive quotes fast and by your deadline
3. No training or RFP templates – submit your RFP in your own format
4. Receive personalized consultation & expertise
5. Complimentary service and commitment free

To start using RFP Organization, email your RFP to

What’s Next in Meeting Tech Tools?

By Al Rickard, CAE

Rapidly advancing technology is creating many exciting new options for meeting professionals.

Reggie Henry, chief information officer at ASAE, showcased some exciting new meeting technologies at an early-morning session at the recent ASAE Springtime Expo.

For example, he talked about “beacons,” which are electronic devices that can be placed anywhere at a meeting and are often used in exhibit halls to measure attendee traffic in real time that can be followed remotely. The beacons can detect the exact location of any attendee who has downloaded the meeting app and has Bluetooth enabled on their phone.

The data collected can help meeting planners identify low traffic areas and place food stations or other features in those areas of the exhibit hall to balance out traffic later in the show. The technology can also be used to monitor attendance at sessions and in other areas of the meeting.

The technology can also transmit any data that attendees have provided when they registered, such as their name, title, and organization. Henry even joked that a beacon located in an exhibit booth can provide real-time data on the visitors to the booth, allowing someone’s boss back at the office who is tracking the reports to send a text to their exhibit booth staff saying how excited they are about the traffic and the great leads that they expect the team to bring back.

He also demonstrated a tool called “Swivl” – a tripod with a swiveling top that can hold a smartphone and videotape a speaker as the person moves around the room. The video feed can be streamed through a tool such as Periscope, Facebook Live, or MeVee to provide a live broadcast of the session that can be viewed by attendees unable to get into a room that may be full or who could not attend the meeting. It can also be easily archived for future viewing on YouTube or other web platforms.

Henry also talked about “,” which is an online real-time room where people can chat and create their own session content. It can also be connected to a Twitter stream.

These and other new apps open the door for new ways to enhance the attendee experience, provide real-time data metrics for planners to improve meetings, and repurpose content for use beyond meetings.

Al Rickard, CAE, is president of Association Vision, a communications company based in the Washington, DC area, and director of communications for

Barnyard to Boardroom

Open the barn door for an effective and different kind of meeting

By Deanna Zagin

Meeting professionals are continually challenged to deliver unique and meaningful experiences that benefit attendees’ lives both professionally and personally while also enhancing their workplace performance.

To solve this challenge, planners can incorporate a leadership and team building element into the meeting itinerary.  And here’s the inside scoop to turn this challenge into an opportunity to provide an innovative, fun and effective experience for the attendees:  HORSES.

What can horses, yes…real horses, teach humans about effective leadership and better team dynamics?

There is something profound and magical about a horse.  After all, horses have survived and adapted on this earth for more than 50 million years. They share in leadership, work in partnership, are emotionally flexible and live in a non-judgmental, caring and supporting environment.  In short, horses can serve as ideal role models for individual growth and superb team functionality.

Called Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), a small group of participants partner with horses in a series of well-planned activities to gain and practice real-world skills to cultivate and enhance their leadership, communication and interpersonal skills and create collaborative team environments. Because individuals and groups often behave the same way whether in the barnyard, the boardroom, or in the office, the EAL experience becomes a metaphor for organizational behavior. Even better, there is no riding involved or horse experience required, so everyone can enjoy participating and learning from the horses.

Horses are extraordinary animals to be around and interact with because, like humans, they are social animals with their own characteristics and moods. soccer horse

Horses are prey animals. A prey animal is hunted by another for food. Survival is programmed in their DNA. They are constantly aware of everything that is going on around them, continually evaluating and interpreting their environment. They can very accurately sense a person’s level of trust, confidence, awareness and authenticity.  As a result, they are experts at mirroring back human emotions and behaviors. They do so unconditionally, without judgment or biases. Horses don’t care about a person’s status or title, race or creed. The horses’ immediate and honest feedback enhances one’s ability to lead with authenticity, consistency, focus, intention and direction – honing one’s emotional and sensitivity skills.

Why are horses so helpful? They are herd animals who seek safety in numbers by banding together for their survival. Their herd mentality is based on the need for cooperation, teamwork, trust and loyalty. The herd consists of well-structured groups of horses of distinct leaders and followers with each of the members having their own role. The herd must work together for its well-being and survival. By partnering with horses and learning from their herd dynamics, teams establish a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, and are reminded that everyone matters.  This reminds all of the need to communicate clearly a shared vision and purpose, resulting in better team dynamics – honing their social intelligence skills.

The EAL experience provides attendees with a unique, fun and educational opportunity as well as memories that can last a life time.  Participants arrive curious, interact with the horses, have a blast and walk away with life skills that support and strengthen their own herd – whether in or outside the boardroom.

Meeting professionals, meanwhile, find a great solution to their challenge to provide a unique and meaningful experience.

Just 18 miles south of Washington, DC on beautiful pastures in Northern Virginia, Unbridled Learning Solutions, LLC offers Equine Assisted Leadership and Team Development programs where groups and/or individuals partner with horses.  These highly interactive sessions with the horses provide a rewarding and powerful transforming experience.

Open the barn door and learn more at

Deanna Zagin has over 30 years of corporate experience and is a certified Equine Assisted Training Specialist.  An accomplished executive with experience in the Fortune 500 and leading association markets, she understands and faced the challenges of organizations and their leaders.  Reach her at

10 Must-Ask Questions When Choosing Local Suppliers for International Meetings

By Carol Krugman, MEd, CMP, CMM

Let’s start with a simple premise: No matter how expert you may be, no matter how many years you have been managing meetings, you should not attempt to plan and execute a meeting overseas without help from local supplier partners. If you think that you can do everything alone, as you may be doing here at home, then stay home. Get local support lined up and you will save time, money, and, quite possibly, your job.

Here are my top 10 questions to ask before you select a supplier, be it a destination management company, professional congress organizer, tour company, transportation company, or any other vendor you are considering:

1. How long has your company been in business?
Three years is usually enough time for a business to achieve some internal stability and a presence in the community. I would never risk a meeting on a startup unless I knew the owner personally and had successfully worked with him/her previously.

2. Can you provide names and contact information for three previous clients whose groups or meetings were similar to mine?
Once you get this information, follow up with an e-mail and a phone call. You want to know if this supplier will really understand the details and nuances of your particular group of attendees and if you can rely on the operations team to carry out the promises made by the salesperson.

3. Can you provide references from your bank and creditors?
Verify financial references. This is not difficult for a public company. For a privately held enterprise about which you know nothing, at the very least ask for a letter from the company’s bank. A statement from a reputable bank confirming that the company has a currently active business account is not a guarantee of future solvency. However, a good relationship with a commercial bank and an active account is one indicator that a business is functional. You could also ask for references from three creditors, to see whether the company’s accounts are up-to-date and if it pays its bills on time. Again, this doesn’t guarantee against bankruptcy in the future, but at least gives snapshot of the current financial health of the company and the responsibility of its management.

4. Is your company and/or its staff active in at least one recognized regional professional association and, preferably, an international professional association?
Membership is not a guarantee of competency or performance, but it does indicate that the management subscribes to an internationally recognized level of professionalism and code of practice. It also indicates a willingness to be accountable to colleagues in the industry and to invest time and money in continuing professional education and training. These are all good signs.

5. Are all necessary licenses current?
Business license requirements, if any, vary from country to country, but if they are required, your local partner should have them up-to-date and available.

6. Is any required insurance current?
Like business licenses, insurance requirements vary. Most developed countries require some kind of business insurance. Even in countries where requirements may be less stringent, most reputable suppliers who work with American clients will carry insurance, since this is such a major concern in the U.S.

7. May I visit your office and meet your staff?
If the answer to this question is not an immediate “yes,” this may be an indication that the supplier may not have the physical and/or human resources required to support your meeting. If there is an office, visit it. In what part of town is it located? What kind of IT and communications equipment are in use? Is the staff busy? Are they pleasant? What overall impression of the company do you get from watching the staff in action?

8. Is the English proficiency of your operations staff as good as that of the sales staff?
Insist on talking with members of the operations staff. If their English is not as proficient as that of the salesperson who so eloquently pitched the business to you, how will you and your staff communicate with them on site, especially in an emergency?

9. Can you work with within my budget?
I always make the meeting and budget parameters clear from the outset. This does not mean that you cannot and should not negotiate with suppliers overseas. It simply provides a foundation for a more efficient and successful negotiation. Accurate and realistic information with which a supplier can prepare a proposal is the first step toward developing a long-term relationship of trust and respect. In many areas of the world, the relationships you do or do not establish may determine the success or failure of your meeting. I have always been straightforward with my suppliers about what I can and cannot spend, and, as a result, I have often gotten more value for my budget. They appreciated an honest, professional dialog that did not waste their time and more often than not found creative ways to add extra value to their proposals.

10. What is my gut telling me?
Trust your instincts. Chemistry, comfort, and trust are crucial. As with all relationships, those we establish with support partners abroad will often depend on intangibles that cannot be measured, researched on the Internet, or provided by references. We like to work with people we like. Sometimes we “click” and develop long and fruitful relationships, sometimes we do not. I have been fortunate to meet and work with extraordinary people all over the world who remain valued colleagues and friends after decades of collaboration. Through them I have met other members of my global resource network and we continue to share assistance and advice as needed.

Carol Krugman, MEd, CMP, CMM, has managed programs in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East, as well as in the United States and Canada over the past 30 years. As Director of Meeting and Business Event Management for the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Carol is currently teaching undergraduate courses in meeting and event planning full time.

For more global meetings tips, visit

Share Your Experience

Do you have something to say? blah blah blah

ConventionPlanit is now accepting articles for publication in the e-Alert, a biweekly e-newsletter for meeting planners.

Suggested topics may include what’s trending, challenges or success stories. We’re open to new ideas!

This is the perfect opportunity to promote your personal brand or share your wealth of experience with other planners.

ConventionPlanit was designed by meeting planners for meeting planners – so let your industry peers hear from you!

Comment below with a topic you would like to contribute and we’ll be in touch!


Must Know AV Tips & Tricks Part 2

av tips and tricks

Part Two: The “Must Know” Basics of AV (continued)


Union can get extremely complicated and can change from venue to venue and from city to city where Union is required. Union can also be double the price for any labor needs. This is important to factor when choosing a venue. We have a full write up on Union labor that we can send to you, just let us know!

Below are a few very important things to remember when it comes to Union:

Things to know

1.    The Union will assign you an Account Manager for your event. They are commonly referred to as a “Steward” or “Administrative Steward”. The job of the Steward is to work directly with you and be your greatest support to ensure you are following all union rules, ensure safety guidelines are followed and oversee all operations while managing the schedule of all Union workers.
2.    Hourly rates/requirements can vary from the type/grade of Union as well as the work being performed
3.    Type of work being performed can affect rates. Example: Breakout Room is different than General Session work.
4.    Safety First: Union will never do anything “illegally” or unsafe when it comes to setting up or operating your event, so it’s best not to ask (yes – they get these request all the time!).
5.    You have the right to establish rules and regulations you deem necessary including conduct, dress, job performance, expectations. Review these expectations with your Union representative and ensure they do not conflict with any terms and conditions of your agreement with the Union or Union regulations.
6.    Lower “grade” of Union worker might be able to perform the same tasks as more expensive grade. Work with your Steward to find the most cost effective option.

Make sure you…

1.    Track all Union labor worked every day and for every shift. Have each employee sign the hour tracking or have your Steward track all hours with your daily approval.
2.    Employer needs to present a Certificate of Coverage showing a current workers compensation Insurance policy is in effect
3.    General Liability: Ensure you prepare general liability paperwork far in advance from the start of your event and ensure you have a copy with you at all times. Without it, your event can be greatly delayed or cancelled all together (Yes – events have been cancelled because of missing of general liability documentation – the venue will not take the risk).
4.    Book time in your contract with your venue to allow for set up the day before the event and during regular business hours. Any hours worked outside regular business hours will increase labor costs dramatically.

Insiders tips directly from the Union workers

1.    “Nice” goes a long way
2.    Meet with your Steward far in advance of your event. Review your event, your expectations and possible challenges and concerns. This is not only an excellent way to meet and get know your Steward, yet provide needed time to resolve issues far before you come to the venue. They will appreciate your efforts to get to know them and understand their requirements.
3.    Appreciate your Steward: the Steward has the ability to make or break your event.  Make efforts to work with them and rely on them as much as possible
4.    Keeping a sense of humor and keeping things in perspective: Problems will work themselves out and the event will go on.  Stay positive!!
5.    Everyone wants the same results: It’s everyone’s best interest for a successful event as this is the easiest and best approach for everyone involved. It truly is a team effort
6.    Communicate: Take the time to go out of your way to ensure clear and updated information.  Be a good source of information as best you can, and when you do not have an answer, be honest with all parties – everyone will work better knowing the situations at hand.

1.    Make sure you determine the amount of devices expected to be used for internet use, not the amount of users. The average person has 2 to 3 devices they will use at an event.
2.    Determine how the internet will be used:
·         Low: Email and simple web surfing
·         Medium: Web applications and streaming audio
·         High: Instructor web training, large file transfers, video streaming
3.    Determine your estimated bandwidth. A good example is 700 devices (about 350 users) using medium internet usage is about 36MB/s per day.
4.    You can find good broadband estimators online to determine your broadband needs. Calculate your needs and integrate those needs with prices in your contract.
5.    Your internet provider or venue can provide you with all internet usage during your event (amount of users, type of use, how many are logged in at any given time – all internet analytics). Ask them for daily updates.
6.    You can easily place user name and passwords to log into your dedicated internet to keep unwanted users from logging in.
7.    When possible, include your internet charges and the promised broadband in your contract. Also, state in your terms that your rates will not increase if you use an outside AV company. Why? Unfortunately, many in-house AV companies provide you an internet quote with the goal of being your AV vendor. But if they are not selected, they increase your internet rate. Many time doubling their rates. Ensure any quote provided to you is valid no matter who you use as your AV vendor.
8.    You don’t have to always use the in-house internet. There are other options available to you via Verizon and AT&T where you create a separate, fully functioning internet system. For example, MiMedia Productions works directly with Verizon Wireless setting up full internet access with the use of “cradle points”. You bypass the venue internet entirely and go directly through Verizon’s wireless system. This can supply internet up to 1200 devices.
Networking / Speaker Presentation Rooms

Networking is extremely valuable when connecting computers or equipment for easy access anywhere in a venue. Examples: would include speaker presentations available to all breakouts and general session rooms or printing to any location in a venue. When networking is needed, remember that you will need access to the venues network. You may be charged for network access and certain scenarios determine availability and cost. Networking can help you streamline breakout rooms and insure they start on time and without difficulty.

Room size, room set up, environment, audience size, impact and budget all effect the type of equipment needed for room set up’s. However, below are some general guidelines for room set ups to give you a starting point for needed equipment:

 1 to 30 people:
1.    Audio: typically no audio needed. You can use computer speakers if needed for presentations that have audio.
2.    Video: 6ft to 8ft screen / 2500 to 3500 Lumens projector

30 to 80 people
1.    Audio: two speakers (type TBD), mixer, microphones
2.    Video: 8ft screen / 3500 Lumens to 4000 Lumens

80 to 150 people
1.    Audio: 4 speakers (type TBD), mixer, microphones (“delay” speakers may be needed as well)
2.    Video: One or two 9×12 screen (4:3 format) / 5000 to 6500 Lumens

150 to 350 people
1.    Audio: Line Array system or 6 speakers with sub woofers, mixer, microphones (using delay speakers when needed)
2.    Video: One or two 10.5 x 14 screens (4:3 format), 6500 Lumens to 7000 Lumens

350 to 1000 People
1.    Audio: Line Array system (flown is option) or 8 speakers with sub woofers, larger mixer, microphones
2.    Video: One, two or more 10.5 x 14 screens (4×3), 7000 Lumens to 10000 Lumens

 1000 to 3000 people
1.    Very complex system for both Audio and Video. See your AV provider or call us for event review.


1.    Room layouts provided by the venue are extremely helpful in determining the best equipment needs and best layout. This will also help determine if rigging is needed. Whenever possible, have your room layouts available at RFP stage. Also, for complex rooms and General Sessions, your AV provider can (and should) provide you with their own renderings for easy review and considerations.
2.    Rooms with windows that do not provide window covers will need brighter LCD Projectors for use during the day.
3.    The “Lumens” on an LCD Projector (example: 3000 Lumens) references to the strength, clarity and brightness of the LCD projectors bulb. The higher the lumens, the higher the quality (and higher the price).
4.    You will always need room behind or in front of a screen for the LCD Projectors light “throw” or “projection”. The type of lens the LCD projector offers will determine how much room is needed. Also, you can attach a different type of lens to some LCD projectors if more room is needed or if you need to project from the back of the room over your audience.
5.    Any room with sound should have a mixer included. This allows for quick control of the audio as well as allows for multiple pieces of equipment to be used with one sound system (example: 2 mics, one iPod, one computer). Small 4 to 6 channel mixers are common in breakout rooms. More advanced mixers are needed for General Sessions or with special audio needs.
6.    Your room layout may require more cables, power and cords for the equipment set up. Be prepared for some flexibility in costs to accommodate the room layout.
7.    For large audiences, determine ahead of time the layout of the room and where you will be placing the stage as well as the stage size. This will help the AV company determine the best equipment for that layout. Also, remember that a change in the layout can dramatically affect the equipment being used.  You can always ask your AV company for their recommendations on size of stage and layout.
8.    Let the AV company know if you are using 4:3 or 16:9 format. This will effect screen size, LCD Projector set up and video switcher equipment. Also, 16:9 screens are usually a little more expensive yet a better look and becoming more common. Let all your presenters know the format you are using to ensure they build their presentation in the correct format.
9.    “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is very popular with speakers. You will need to know what devices they are going to use so you can prepare the correct connections. For computers, ask if they are using a PC or MAC. If PC, ask if the output is “VGA” or “HDMI”. For MAC, ask what version of computer they are using (MAC frequently changes their video output so many adaptors may be needed). Remember, BYOD situations can create a chaotic situation for both you and your AV staff, especially when you have more than 3 breakout rooms. Try having your AV company provide computers in each room,
10.Encourage your presenters to “embed” any presentation video in their presentation. This way they will not need to rely on internet to play video. This will save on costs as well
Beyond your basic equipment, consider having the following included

General session

1.    Audio mixer large enough to handle last minute audio connections
2.    Back up computer
3.    One video switcher for smooth switching from one video source to another
4.    Confidence monitor for speakers (so they can stay on track and not have to turn away from the audience to look at the screens
5.    Mini audio jack for sound source (iPod/iPad/tablet/music player/other)
6.    Ensure your speakers embed video in their presentations so not to rely on internet access to show video’s.

Breakout Rooms

1.    Mixer in all rooms with sound
2.    Mini audio jack for sound from presenters computer
3.    For small rooms without microphones or sound systems, consider small computer speakers for sound from presenters laptops
4.    Wireless mouse/presenter mouse
5.    Have your AV company provide the needed computers for breakout rooms to keep multiple speaker set ups easier and to avoid problems.

General Equipment

1.    Apps are nearly essential in today’s events. Beyond the tremendous value they bring an event, one of the values is the ability to quickly change schedules, send push notifications and communicate with all attendees – anytime, instantly. MiMedia Productions provides event app services and many times offers a complimentary event app for your event.
2.    Radio’s/push-to-talk phones are extremely valuable especially when dealing with multiple venue levels and a team of people. Know which type of radios you want to use and if there is a different in costs.

The Webcast vs. Webinar
When planning a webcast – remember it is a “broadcast” like golf, Nascar, and football – with a production truck in a “box” or computer that takes all the media, video, audio and graphics and is live switched to make the viewing experience equal to our years of live TV events.

Webinar style utilizes a laptop and operator and hardline internet connection. This is the >easiest way in which we use a service like GoTo meeting and the presenters PPT is loaded on this local laptop and then the audio feed from the room is directly run to the audio input of the laptop OR via a “Gentner” audio to telephone adapter and into a phone line and dialed into the GoTo meeting service. The Operator then follows along with the presenter and the viewer sees the slides and hears the presenter. Requires a one day prior internet set and test.

Webcast Single Camera

utilizes a desktop video/graphics (Tricaster) switcher and operator, and a camera and camera operator. This 2-man team gives a viewing experience of the PPT slides and a close-up shot of the presenter. The operator chooses to switch between the camera and PPT based on the delivery of the presenter and what is best for the “viewer” to follow the program and stay engaged. This service utilizes a CDN or content delivery network of server computers that broadcasts the stream out to your audience across the internet with solid performance and multi-platform/device confidence. This requires a landing page on clients website for player or we can provide a standalone unbranded page. Requires venue internet and a one-day prior setup and test.

Webcast – 2 Camera and Cam Switcher OP

Takes the single cam webcast (above) and elevates the experience to include a second wide shot, allowing second shot such as a panel or on stage interview to also been seen. You would then cut to the close-up and back to the graphics and so forth. Requires a 3-man team, equipment, venue internet, and a one-day prior setup and test.

Webcast – 3 Camera and Cam Switcher OP

A third camera can be added to show the room, the audience and often a wide shot of both the side of the presenter and the audience. This is extremely important if there is Q&A and you want to see and hear the audience participation. There are additional costs of this additional camera and operator and builds on the two camera option (above) for a rich multi-camera experience. Requires a team of techs, equipment, venue internet and a one-day prior setup and test.

IMAG/Video Recording

This guide describes the approach we use for creating a better “live” experience and the difference of what is needed to create a good viewing experience.

Live IMAG Camera

IMAG stands for “Image Magnification” and is just that, a manned camera that holds a close up shot of the presenters and the screen video switcher and can hose to put this on the screens which usually is about 20% of the time and the other 80% is the PPT.  This close up shot with no graphics can be recorded but only shows the presenter in the recording.

Record for Editing

This include the IMAG close up camera and a Second wide static (unmanned) second camera that shows the stage and the screen so that an editor can take the close up and the wide and the PPT slides and edit together a nice video of the presentation for distribution.

Recording 2 Camera Live Switch

This is a good way to have an edited version of the program available for immediate distribution. This takes the single IMAG cam and elevates the experience by adding a second manned camera with a wide shot so if there is a panel or an on stage interview that the multiple people can be seen. The cameras are run to a video switcher computer (separate of the screen switcher) and operator called camera director and allows the two cameras, audio, and graphics to be mixed live and recorder.

Recording 3 Camera and Live Switch

A third camera can be added to show the room, the audience and often a wide shot of both the side of the presenter and the audience. This is extremely important if there is Q&A
and you want to see and hear the audience participation.

By: Stephen O’Connor
MiMedia Productions