Event planning check list: Tech Needs

I’ve worked a couple of events recently and have seen a few event organizers have mini meltdown over tech needs.  In many cases it’s because it was their first time in a space and they just didn’t know what to ask.  Some of their melt downs spread to their entire tech crews.  To help you avoid your own meltdowns, I’ve put this handy dandy checklist together:

Sound system:

  • Is there one already in the venue?  If yes, find the technical specifics out.  Wattage, types of jacks, soundboard (and what kind), what kinds of microphones are compatible, and if there are any quirks you should know about.
  • If there isn’t a sound system on site, are you required to rent one from a specific vendor?  If not, what are the wattages, possible set ups, recommendations from equipment used at past events that worked well?
  • If bringing your own, it’s best to involve someone who’s set up a sound system before.  It can be tricky.  Make sure you bring lots of extra cords of both short and very long lengths (btw, 20′ isn’t long in some venues, so some measuring may be a good idea).  Don’t assume that the venue will have all the equipment you need! Bring extra!
  • Get microphones that you know your speakers will be comfortable with.  When in doubt, get lavalieres and someone to put them on and take them off your speakers.  (Most speakers prefer these so they can have full use of their body when speaking)
  • Check with your entire team for their needs: DJ, presentation machine technician, videographer and anyone else doing announcements.
  • Make sure all of this is set up and sorted at least 2 hours before doors.  This is an area that can have a LOT of issues

Visual needs:

  • What sort of projector is already in the space?  Where is it?
  • If there is no projector in the space, how do they suggest you set it up?
  • Will you need extra cords to work the projectors?  Dongles?  Audio cords?
  • Are there any other screens available for showing side presentations?  What are the tech needs for that?
  • If you want a screen to see your presentations, rent a confidence monitor.  Just using the laptop won’t work if you’ve got a technician.
  • Cord requirements for a confidence monitor?

Content collection:

  • You should have a drop dead of the day before for any slides.  Whoever is running your presentation machine needs time to make back ups, set cues, test videos and problem solve anything that isn’t working perfectly.  Finishing up the presentation slides right before your show is unprofessional and will really aggravate your presentation machine technician.
  • Ask all of your presenters to send along fonts with their presentations
  • Be very clear on formatting for the show: wide screen or standard.  Make that clear MULTIPLE times to your speakers.  Many people assume what is standard and don’t listen.  You need to give your presentation person time to fix slides if need be.
  • Title cards for your speakers should be done at least a day in advance.  Lot of chaos happens the day of events and this is frequently the first thing that doesn’t get sorted properly at the last minute.  It can be embarrassing to have incorrect information on screen behind your speakers.

Presentation machine

  • These are for running the full show.  If you require the ability to see your slides, you should get a confidence monitor.  Confidence monitors show what’s on the screen only.  Not the preview.
  • Make sure that person is somewhere discreet and has a very thorough run of show, noting all audio and visual cues (give this to your entire tech crew while you’re at it)
  • It must be loaded hours before show time.  Your audio and video cable set up folks will need time to make sure it’s set up properly.
  • Bring an extra power cord and dongle for that machine.  If you’re producing, it’s your responsibility to make sure everything is there.

Things to always bring, just in case:

  • Extra audio cords of varying length: 10′, 20′, 50′
  • Extra power strips
  • Electrical tape for taping down cords
  • Mac dongles of various types (For new, old Macs from VGAs and HDMIs), and mark that they are yours (these tend to get stolen more than anything else)
  • Backup music playlist that could be plugged in that doesn’t require an internet connection
  • Tape for marking floors for your speakers.
  • An extra volunteer to help problem solve tech issues, who is an expert and is focused

Anything else you’d add?

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