Meeting Planner AV Guide to Audio

Audiovisual is an important aspect of any meeting, conference or incentive trip. It can also be the most expensive and confusing element for any meeting planner AV novice to learn and master. Audiovisual and technology, in general, are always changing and meeting planners are tasked with staying on top of those trends and staying within budget.

One of the most crucial aspects of any AV program is audio. Audio is the most sensitive, transparent element of any show. Some hotels and venues have in-house sound systems, however, it is recommended to rent an external sound system through the in-house or third-party AV partner to ensure the highest quality. The basic parts of any audio system include an input, such as a microphone, a mixer to control the equalization and volume of different inputs, and loudspeakers or other output sources, to carry sound to your audience.

meeting planner audio guideTypical Meeting Microphones

Find out what type of microphone your presenters prefer, from wired, handheld, lavalier, countryman (Madonna) or lectern microphone. Each type of microphone has its specific advantages and disadvantages and there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Evaluate what is most important to your presenters, whether it’s tone, mobility, or ease of use. Experienced speakers will likely have a preference, but if they ask for a recommendation you can always consult your AV partners for the best mic in a particular situation.

A lectern microphone is best used for presenters that stay in one place and are reading from their notes. This is a great option for formats that have multiple speakers or a speaker that likes to have control of their presentation via their laptop onstage.

Wireless microphones are best used for presenters that walk around or for a Q&A session where the microphone needs to be passed around. Wireless should be limited to a maximum of 6 in one meeting to avoid signal disruption and keep assignments easy whenever possible.

A lavalier is the most typical microphone for presenters that move and walk about the stage naturally as they speak. Lavalier microphones require a receiver to be attached somewhere on the speaker’s body, as well as a way to hide the cord from the receiver to the mic making it a little more involved than a simple handheld microphone.

Countryman microphones (used by Madonna or TED talks) is more expensive but best for presenters that move and walk around and turn their head from side to side with minimal feedback. Similar to a lavalier mic in that it offers great mobility, but differs in that it will be more sensitive to spoken word. Countryman mics are good options for soft-spoken or casual volume speakers.

Ensure during rehearsals, your presenter walks around the stage to ensure there is no sound feedback or that annoying screeching sound coming from any of the loudspeakers. Be sure to tape off areas you don’t want your presenters to walk near, such as near the stage monitors (speakers onstage used so the presenter can better hear themselves) or confidence monitors (video monitors on stage to show presenter the presentation). Arrows on the stage made from tape and boundaries help guide those onstage so they stay safe while presenting and know how to exit the stage confidently.

Brightspot tip: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

Staying Aware of Frequencies & Signals

It is important to check frequencies, so signals don’t interfere with competing events at the same venue or even nearby military or traffic control. Lean on your AV partner to advise and test the frequencies. Also, your AV partner should test the strength of signals. During rehearsals, the massive ballroom is empty, so signals travel easily. Once the general session is full of 1000 attendees, the signals must be stronger to pass through many people.

If you use radios to communicate with your onsite team, you may be using frequencies used in the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS.) These radios require a license that your AV partner should hold, but more importantly, they’ll be using frequencies that are capable of long-range transmission. Be sure your frequency is clear of any interruption during the audio testing, and that no other radio users are impeding on your frequency.

Brightspot tip: triple-check those frequencies

Loudspeakers for Corporate Meetings

For large-scale general sessions or outdoor events for 1000+, it is important to consider audio speaker type, location, and coverage. Ask your AV partner to note where loudspeakers will be located on the event diagram. Also, ask your AV partner to tune the room by setting up speakers correctly and checking for hot spots or dead spots.

Fill speakers can help fill the dead spots. Again, insist on rehearsals to ensure presenters are heard clearly from all angles. These point-and-shoot speakers can be the difference between a section of the audience’s ability to hear the presenter clearly or be left to interpret the muddled reverberation from the stage loudspeakers.

meeting planner AV guideSometimes speakers located near the stage are not able to reach the back of the room or venue so the quality of sound will be muffled or lost. It is recommended to add time-aligned delay speakers for reaching further from the stage so the audience can hear in real-time what is seen on stage. This can be compared to when a video is buffering on YouTube and the sound isn’t matching the singer on the video.

If the stage has hung line arrays above it, then it is unlikely that you’ll need delay speakers due to the way these J-shaped speaker arrangements are set to provide the same audio levels to different distances from the stage.

Another type of speaker that may be important to your presenter is the stage monitors. The regular sound system is directed out towards the audience so when a presenter is fielding questions from the audience it may be hard to hear. Here is where monitor speakers come into play. The speakers are set up usually on the front of the stage facing the presenter allowing them to also hear the questions or music, as well as their voice.

Brightspot tip: tune the room

In conclusion, lean on your expert Brightspot meeting planners and AV partners to ensure the audio at your meeting is crisp, clear, and under control. Head over to our events page to check out some more bright ideas we offer for your next corporate meeting or event!

Nicole Chattin

Author Nicole Chattin

Sr. Program Manager | Expertise is seeing the big picture of an event, focusing on the detailed execution and of course, follow-up.

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