A Crash Course on AV For Event Planners

av eventsIf you’re an event planner, every one of your projects incorporates audio visual elements in some way. Your needs might be quite simple, or they could be fantastically complex. You don’t have to be an AV expert (that’s what the pros are for!), but a basic understanding of the sound and lighting terminology and how to work with your AV team will help make each of your AV events flawless.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this crash course on AV. We hope it helps!

What is AV?

AV is an abbreviation of audio visual, but these days the acronym should probably be AVL. That’s because AV encompasses lighting as well as the sound and visuals you use for large-scale events. These three components fulfill purely functional roles, but they can also do virtually anything you want to create an environment and set a mood.

Thanks to advanced digital technology, you can create wholly immersive, irresistibly engaging events that are a far cry from old-style PowerPoint presentations and disco balls. What better way to explain more about this than — you guessed it! — a video.

Why hire an AV partner?

It’s important to hire an AV partner because you are not an AV professional. It takes tremendous knowledge about electricity, electronics, and engineering to plan and install audio visual equipment efficiently and safely. Crew members who work with rigging have to be specially certified because the work is dangerous. Just operating the equipment so that you get exceptional results takes a deft hand. Even if you were able to do all these things, as the event planner, you don’t have time.

But there’s more. The right AV partner can be your “imagination partner” as well, contributing artistic design talent to your event planning in addition to functional expertise. That’s why savvy event planners always include someone from their AV team on projects right from the start. (We can even help you choose the best venue to fulfill your event vision.)

When to hire an AV partner?

Your job is strategic oversight. You don’t give the presentations, perform the entertainment, or prepare and serve the food at your event, you hire professionals. That said, some events are so straightforward, you really can handle the audio visual needs yourself, either within your staff or by using your venue’s AV person.

However, the more complex your event, the more critical it becomes to hire a team of pros. The size of that team will depend on the details and duration of your event. The earlier you bring us into the picture, the more ways we can help you design and deliver a spectacular experience whether your audience includes 50 people or thousands.

Who’s on your AV team?

Well, that depends. It could be a cast of thousands (not really, but it might seem like it), or just a few key people. Just as learning about terminology and equipment, understanding the roles of different AV team members will be a distinct help in planning and producing your event.

And, speaking of “who” is on your AV team, smart event planners make the effort to learn the names and roles of their AV folks. These guys (and gals) work hard, and often long hours, to make your event perfect. Make them feel like part of your team with a friendly hello and some food and beverages to keep them fueled, and they’ll be clamoring to work with you again. The more often you can work with the same team, the more compatible you all become. And the smoother and more amazing your events become.

Understanding AV Quotes and Fees

Yes, you will have to pay for all the magnificent audio, visual, and lighting assistance you receive! As an event planner, you know that reading between the lines is critical when it comes to venue contracts, and the same holds true for AV quotes. Don’t even try to navigate one until you’ve reviewed the terminology and crew role links we provided earlier.

Make sure you understand every sentence. You’ll see charges and also fees for certain things. Not everything you see is necessarily required, and many items can be negotiated down if not eliminated entirely — now that you know that is possible, anyway. The key to budgetary success is vigilance, so keep asking questions until you feel comfortable with the quote’s content as well as the numbers.

AV Terms You Should Know

Aspect ratio, backline, show flow, VOG. Learning the key terminology your AV team uses will be a huge help. You’ll be able to understand what they’re talking about and have much more productive discussions. Knowing about commonly-used equipment will help even more. The list is too long for this crash course, but you’ll find a good one here.


There’s a lot more to AV than you might think. And since this article is meant as an overview, you might have questions and that’s OK! Give us a call. Our Heroic AV heroes are more than happy to answer those questions because the more you know about what we do, the more we can do to help you design and produce flawless AV events.