Planning an event involves countless details, and one of the most crucial aspects is ensuring your audio-visual (AV) setup is flawless. Paolo Labita and Luigi L., AV Technicians at Newnham College, give their insights on the future of AV for events and share their advice on how event professionals can prepare effectively for their events.

1. Know Your Equipment Requirements

Before the event, make sure you have a clear understanding of the equipment you need and what the venue can provide. This could be anything from microphones, projectors and screens, to audio speakers, cameras and even additional power for robot meet and greets! Meet or schedule a call with the AV team to go through your event and highlight your key AV objectives. Discuss details such as:

  • The number of speakers
  • What programs you and your speakers will be using for example, PowerPoint; Canva; .pdf; YouTube etc
  • Accessibility requirements of your speakers
  • Event schedule – especially if the AV team is pre-loading the presentations for you.
  • Any presentation submission timelines
  • Charging points, if required, for devices
  • Wired and wireless equipment
  • Screen and camera setup for the room layout
  • Whether you require recordings of all or some of the sessions

If necessary, consider hiring an AV specialist. Most AV teams are happy to recommend a supplier that knows the College/venue.


2. Communicate with Speakers

Ask your speakers about their AV needs well in advance to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day of the event. What type of microphone do they prefer? (see point 5); are they planning to bring their own device? (see point 6). Ensure that they also meet the AV team before their session to test and upload their presentations and be fitted with the microphone that suits them.


3. Playing Videos

Playing videos at an event is a great way to engage your attendees but they can be tricky to navigate. Make sure you test them on the venue’s AV system beforehand to ensure quality and speed. Where possible, embed the video into a presentation rather than adding a link or switching programmes. This will help to avoid issues with audio, buffering, or unexpected pop-up advertisements.

Helpful Tip: Add video captions to your film to make it accessible to all.


4. Hearing Loops

Ask about the hearing loop system, as it can vary by room and venue:

  • Infrared Systems typically cover the first row only.
  • Large conference rooms often have full-room hearing loops.

Check the radius and channel settings for the hearing loop and ensure a backup is available in case of Wi-Fi issues.


5. Choose the Right Microphone

There are a variety of microphones available. We have listed the most frequently used types:

  • Lectern Microphone:
    Located on a lectern where a laptop or mobile device is typically situated, a lectern microphone is ideal for those speakers who like to remain stationary and have control over their presentation. The lectern can also give some speakers a sense of security as they have a physical object in between them and their audience. However, take note that typically, the speaker's position will be fixed and these microphones are not always height adjustable.
  • Lapel Microphone:
    These microphones fix onto a speaker’s clothing, typically the lapel on a jacket. They are perfect for those who like to move around or have mobility issues. However, as the mic is in a fixed position on a speaker’s clothing, they will need to ensure that when speaking, they are looking directly at their audience and not behind them at the screen as doing so may cause issues with the sound.
  • Wireless Handheld Microphone:
    A wireless handheld microphone is probably best described as a large lollipop! They are suitable for speakers who like to move around and have a tendency to look back their presentation on the screen behind them. They are not ideal for those who might have difficulty with gripping.
  • Head Microphone:
    Also known as a headset microphone, this attaches around the head and allows for hands-free operation. It is versatile for all types of speaking but can be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.


6. Device Compatibility

Check that your and any of your speakers’ devices are compatible with the venue’s AV system, especially if using Apple products which may require an adapter. Ask your venue if they supply these or if you need to provide them and if so, what specification you should look for as this can affect a presentation. If your speakers are responsible for writing their own presentations  ensure they bring the device that was used to avoid  compatibility issues.


7. Giving Advance Notice for AV Changes

Last-minute AV requests can cause significant disruptions. Provide as much notice as possible for any changes.


8. Future AV Technology

Earlier this year, Paolo and Luigi attended the LTSMG 2024 conference. Their key highlights included:

  • Interactive Screens:
    Touch-sensitive screens that allow real-time interaction with digital content. They can be wall-mounted or freestanding, and content can be saved as PDFs and emailed directly to all attendees in real-time.
  • AV Over IP:
    Networked AV that allows technicians to manage all the AV in a venue remotely, reducing the need for physical presence and cutting costs. It also provides data on any potential issues which the team can react to before it becomes an issue for a speaker.
  • LED Walls:
    Innovative and sustainable, these walls can transform meeting spaces. From creating a virtual woodland clearing to a fully immersive branding experience. Care should be taken however, to ensure the graphics do not distract from the speakers.
  • Wearable Visuals:
    Future events may see visuals displayed on clothing, offering a new twist on interactive photo booths.


By following these tips and keeping up with the latest AV trends, event planners will be able to ensure a seamless and impressive experience for all event attendees.