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September 19, 2008
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Oliver Richardson:Getting the AV right for your meeting, conference or event




The sales director at global audio-visual company DB Systems offers advice on how to use audio-visual technology (AV) properly to ensure meetings, conferences and events are successful and achieve a company’s objectives.

The first point I would like to address is the question at what stage should corporate marketers bring their AV and IT partners into their marketing budgets or production – at the concept, the pitch or the contracting stage?

While this may depend on the size and complexity of the project, I would argue that AV  and IT are almost always an important element in planning and staging conferences and exhibitions. Very often we are working on projects from a very early stage.

AV and IT suppliers play a somewhat unique role in the process of building a feature or display in that we’re first in to lay cables, then there’s a section in the middle where we mount the brackets and then right at the end, around the time when the graphics are being finished, we hang the screens, do the tech work and clean up. So we’re first in and last out.

By bringing AV suppliers in at an early stage, you will have the benefit of the best possible service and support every step of the way, which gives clients one less thing to worry about.

A thorough brief

A top tip I would offer to marketing professionals on using AV and IT is to describe fully to your AV partner what it is you want to achieve. Most importantly, don’t hold back on your wish list. Give it to them straight!

Let the AV provider work out a solution for you and let them respond with some options. Your AV partner should do this in a positive way, as you’ll be the perfect client because you’re allowing them to get on with their job and use their expertise and experience to create something that will deliver your objectives.

Logisitics and content

Once you have a solution that works for everyone, the logistics will take over, and your AV project manager will determine how the project gets from the warehouse to the venue. This is then followed by the content of your presentation.

You might think that content and selecting the correct equipment would come at the beginning, but experience has taught me that content is left until the 11th hour. We produce PowerPoint and presentation content for clients in-house or at the very least test all content on the actual screens prior to shipping, and we advise all clients to get their content to us well in advance. 

AV partners should never be used as a ‘shop’ where you pick and choose AV equipment. This ‘dry hire’ service is not an ideal scenario and can lead to a host of problems for any organiser. Anything that can go wrong normally does and without having that back up of experienced specialists, it can cause your planned event looking inadequate and inferior to your competitors.

Quality over quantity
So how do you ensure your event makes the right impact  on your audience? Well, AV is certainly a great way to help companies achieve this, but the amount of technology used depends on many the message that you’re trying to get across and what you’re promoting.

I would say to my clients to remember that quality over quantity is key. I have seen some events where companies have overdone the amount of AV being used, and all I can still remember about them is just that – not the brand and not what they were trying to say to their employees or potential clients.

We always advise our clients that you should never detract from your brand or the message you are trying to deliver. You can be clever with your ideas and still impress an audience without being flash.


Oliver Richardson’s AV tips


• Find an AV partner that you’re able to ask all those silly little questions that you feel you should know the answer to, and someone you feel you can trust with your company’s reputation.

• Share information about logistics (it will save you time and money).

• Get the content arranged as early as possible.

• Don’t overdo it. Your event or exhibition stand leaves a lasting impression on the people you are trying to impress.


Oliver Richardson is sales director at global audio-visual company DB Systems.


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