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4 Major Ways to Make Your Next Meeting or Conference More Participatory
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Nov 30, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
meetingEveryone is talking about increasing attendee participation and interactivity, but there are no real guidelines to make it happen. From registration to the last function of your meeting, it is important for attendees to always feel welcome. Some experienced meeting planners recently weighed in on this topic on a LinkedIn PCMA Group Discussion. Below, is a synopsis of their thoughts, along with a few of my own.

REGISTRATION AREA

  • Create an environment that "invites people in." Is your area, warm and inviting? Is your staff smiling and attending to the registrant’s needs?
  • Have a lot of space around the registration area for people to mingle. 
  • Call registrants "participants" rather than "attendees".
  • Have your Board of Directors, Sponsors, and/or Volunteers at the registration area to greet participants and "show them around."
  • Assign Mentors to first-time attendees and, if possible, have the mentors at the registration area ready to greet their mentee.

NETWORKING

  • Have Ambassadors be on the look out for "lost attendees." These individuals come into a networking event by themselves, and are desperately looking for a familiar face. Be that face and invite them in. 
  • Have a networking event on the eve of the conference and have Board Members serve as Ambassadors.
  • Have stations with Discussion Topics on them and encourage participants to go to the tables of interest to them. This can be completed over a meal, such as breakfast or lunch.
  • If you decide to do the Discussion Topics at a seperate time, have participants rotate to a new table after 15 or 20 minutes. 

AUDIO VISUAL

  • Sound and lighting rentals are key to increasing attendees participation. The ability to hear what the speaker and other participants are saying can increase interactivity. Wireless mics can be placed throughout the room. A dark room discourages interactivity. There are many light equipment rental options to maximize audience participation.
  • Wireless Audience Response Systems can allow participants to weigh-in on the topic anonymously while allowing event organizers to collect data instantly.
  • Rent Tablet PCs for each attendee or place one tablet on each table for small group discussions. Facilitators can share questions for group discussion, accept questions and comments via Twitter, or allow participants to make notes on the downloaded presentation.

SEATING

  • Look at the room from a networker/participant’s point of view. What seating will allow for the most interaction between multiple individuals? Or better yet, between multiple tables? 
  • Dr. Paul Radde’s book called Seating Matters: State of the Art Seating Arrangements delves into the 5 seating principals and 17 factors that can help troubleshoot any meeting room. 
  • Make certain that a lot of extra chairs and tables are not in the room. It zaps the energy out of the meeting because it allows participants to be seated yelling distance away from each other and stay primarily in the back. 

AV Event Solutions can provide your next meeting or conference with many different audio visual components to make your meeting very participatory! They have 1st and 2nd generation iPads, Tablet PCs, ARS, and sound and lighting solutions. Give them a call today!

Understanding the Ins and Outs of the AV Production Booth
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Nov 28, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
boothMany event organizers are intimidated when it comes to understanding the various components of an audio visual production booth. Most see long tables with rows of equipment and AV Technicians operating it. Today, lets demystify the gear and understand how the staff makes it all flows together.
EQUIPMENT

Light Equipment Rental: The technician controls the intensity and color of the lighting from the booth. 

Audio Boards: This device is designed to do four things: 1) amplify incoming signals, 2) allow for switching and volume level adjustments for a variety of audio sources 3) allow for creatively mixing together and balancing multiple audio sources to achieve an optimum blend and 4) route the combined effect to a transmission or recording device. 

Camera Control: This solution allows a single operator to easily manage a live, multi-camera production, recording an event from multiple vantage points. 

Switchers: This device organize all audio/video wiring into one place and then switch components with the press of a button. With these switches, you can connect a VCR, DVD player, digital recorder, satellite television receiver, and digital camcorders for output to Plasma TVs or LCD projectors and screen rentals. 

Recording
: Recorders can be used to capture all the audio from the meeting and an AV technician can transfer the recording to an USB drive within minutes. 

Teleprompter: This is a display device that prompts the person speaking with an electronic visual text of a speech. The screen is in front of and usually below the camera lens of a video camera, and the words on the screen are reflected to the eyes of the presenter using a sheet of clear glass. The AV Tech controls how fast or slow the words appear on the screen and monitors the technology. 

Wireless Audience Response Systems: When polling occurs in an event, the folks in the production booth can easily collect all the data on a jump drive for the event organizer to analyze and review at a later date. 

Special FX: This adds drama and creates interest in any corporate video, whether it is a Product Launching Event, Educational or Seminar, or Trade Show. 

STAFF

Stage Management: They guarantee the event moves in the right direction by working with the entertainment, production, and service staff so that everyone is on the same page, and each moment is accounted for and executed properly. The management team has the experience in directing communication, ensures proper stage leadership and provides technical direction to the production team.

Audio Visual Technician: They operate and maintain equipment used to amplify, record and display sound and images at live events. They operate sound equipment for speeches and presentations, use video cameras to shoot images or serve as projectionists. 

Project Manager: They are responsible for the successful planning, implementation, testing, training, and closing of audio visual for high-profile meetings and events. 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment company, can provide you with interactive technology tool rentals, as well as, experienced AV technicians and project managers. Give them a call or request a Quick Quote  today!

Happy Thanksgiving from AV Event Solutions
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Nov 23, 2011 by Melissa Bailey
Thanksgiving

Fall Harvest
The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway~
Thanksgiving comes again!
~Old Rhyme

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Friends at
AV Event Solutions

8 Major Meeting Mistakes to Avoid
mistake
Nov 21, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

mistakeMeetings and events are fantastic ways to network, build brand awareness about your product and/or organization, and connect with your customer and prospect base. Unfortunately, many meeting planners, especially novice ones, don’t take enough time to look at the meeting from the attendee’s point of view.

Attendee’s are well educated with long memories about your organization and events. If you want to make a lasting impression, avoid these 8 common mistakes.

1. Don’t research the venue. 

It is very important that you have the right event at the right venue. There are many ways to vet a location. Here are just a few:

  • Google the site and read every link on the first page
  • Go to TripAdvisor and read all the reviews from business clients
  • Ask for feedback about this location on LinkedIn groups 
  • When you go for a site visit, pay attention to the little details — the parking lot, the bathrooms, and how the service staff treats you.

2. Ignore local resources. 

Whatever city you decide to host your event, remember this: use of local businesses is good for the local economy. Local businesses know their own city and can help you with other suppliers and partners. When you use local resources, such as when renting audio visual equipment, you will save time (they are close), money (no shipping charges), and fulfill your desire to be green (reduce carbon footprint).

3. Falsify information. 

Over inflating attendee, sponsor, and exhibitor numbers to potential partners and vendors is a big no-no and will come back to bite you. Be completely ethical. Tell them the truth always. If you don’t know the answer to the question, say so and let them know you will get back to them in a day or a week and then, get back to them!

4. No compelling reason to attend. 

Attendees are busy people and they view 10 to 100 pitches on why they should attend various events. They scan the pitches quickly, so yours needs to compelling. 

Make it easy for them to say yes. Don’t make them search several paragraphs down in an email. Tell them in the subject line and within the first 3 to 4 sentences. 

5. Not building relationships. 

Business is about relationships. You want 10 sponsors and 150 exhibitors at your next event 9 months from now? Start building those relationships now. Find out how you can help them make their business grow. 

6. Ignoring one type of media. 

Is your marketing strategy for your next event all digital or all print? If so, you need to rethink this strategy because you will leave a whole group of potential attendees behind. You don’t need to increase your marketing budget, just reallocate it to more of a 50/50 mix.

7. Not letting attendees/sponsors/exhibitors know who to contact when onsite.

Event meeting services organizations are busy when they are running the event, but it very important that everyone knows who they can contact if a question or concern arises. Letting everyone know your cell number, Twitter name, and email address are great ways to keep in contact. Make certain your smartphone or iPad is set up to monitor this traffic and respond to it quickly.

8. Long-Winded Sessions. 

Research says that attendees maximize their learning in 50-minute increments or less. Don’t let your sessions be long and lecture oriented. Give the audience members a chance to interact with the presenter, as well as, with each other. 

Event planning in California? AV Event Solutions has a variety of interactive technology tool rentals available to help you make your next meeting more compelling and interactive. Give them a call at 888.249. 4303 for a guaranteed same-day response!

7 Tips to Making Your Speaker’s Message Memorable
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Nov 18, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

presenterAre you in the process of speaker selection for next year’s meeting, conference or product launching event? Hiring high energy presenters who deliver a great message will make your meeting memorable, long after the event is over. So, what should you look for when reviewing the speaker’s presentation?

Below is a checklist of things every planner should keep in mind during the hiring phase.

  1. Share much about the audience and how they learn.

    Tell your speaker as much information as possible about the demographics of your attendees and how they learn most effectively. Do they learn passively or interactively? Visually or Audibly? 
  2. Make certain the speaker develops their own slides.

    I can’t tell you how many presentations I have been to where the boss or co-worker of the presenter developed the slide deck. It wasn’t the presenters voice, so the message was not authentic. Attendees are turned off quickly especially if the speaker starts to read from the slides, flip through them fast, or worse, stares and says "I have no ideas what this means." Put it in writing that they MUST put together their own message.

  3. The presentation needs to flow and not be rushed.

    Is there a beginning, middle, and ending?

    Are there more than 6 lines on each slide and more than 6 words across? If so, have the speaker rework it.

    Does the presentation integrate color, graphics, photos, and video? Presentation services audio visual equipment is pretty sophisticated nowadays, allowing for bright, quality, visual presentations which can be better retained by audience members.

    How many slides are in the presentation? Standard rule of thumb is take the allotted time divided in half and that should be the maximum number of slides the presenter has. In other words, if it is a 30 minute presentation, no more than 15 slides with the intention of spending 1 to 2 minutes on each one.

  4. Remove the podium.

    Many speakers like to "hide" behind the lectern and put that artificial barrier between the audience and themselves. Hire a speaker that is comfortable walking around the stage and even going into the audience and mingling with attendees. Every presenter I have witnessed doing this, especially the ones that get down off the riser, create an energy that resonates with the attendees.

  5. An "attention grabbing" opening.

    It’s true what they say, "You never have a second chance to make a first impression." What is the first thing that comes out of the speaker’s mouth? Do they tell a story? Joke? New information? It needs to be interesting and compelling.

  6. Summarize and Engage.

    Does the speaker summarize their entire speech at the end of the presentation? How do they engage the audience members? 

  7. Call-to-Action.

    Make certain the presenter has a specific call to action or key takeaways. Many good speakers have the audience members write out what they are going to do in the next week, month, or year. What do they or you want the attendees to do?

Are you event planning in California? Call on AV Event Solutions to provide you with state-of-the-art presentation services audio visual equipment that will make your meeting come to life! Give them a call or request Express Quote for more information!

Meeting and Event Trends for 2012 and Beyond
trend
Nov 16, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

trendSmart Meetings recently published an article called "Trend Spotting" by Carolyn Koenig, a freelance writer for the magazine. Below is an excerpt from her findings, as well as, some of our thoughts on the event meeting services industry as we move into the next year.

iPADS AND TABLET PCS WILL RULE THE MEETING

It is going to be important to everyone in the event meeting services industry, from planners, hoteliers, and attendees, to be mobile and access online content whenever and wherever they want at the conference. 

If you rent iPads, what will the attendee use them for? Mashable found in a recent survey that mobile devices are being used in one or more of the following ways:

  • Sending and Receiving Emails
  • Searching on the Internet
  • Reading Information
  • Watching Video Content
  • Social Media Updates
  • Note-Taking

"ASAE had a cool app you can use for the iPad," said Karen Kotowski, Chief Executive Officer at Convention Industry Council. "I didn’t have to carry around a lot of paper. I could pick sessions from the schedule provided, pick exhibitors,and it even showed me where on the exhibit floor I could find them. It helps with sustainability issues, as well."

With the addition of tablets and smartphones in the meeting environment, it is important to make certain the Wi-Fi network is going to be fast, robust, and secure. Refer to the checklist developed when checking out venues for their Wi-Fi capabilities.

HOTEL OCCUPANCY IS UP, BUT THE BOOKING WINDOW CONTINUES TO BE TIGHT

"We feel optimism going into 2012," said Scott Voeller, Vice President of Marketing at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

"Demand for groups in 2011 exceeds 2008, which was a watershed good year," said Tom Faust, Vice President of Sales and Distribution at Omni Hotels

"The hotels we talk to are receiving a far greater number of leads on the meeting side than this time last year," said Mike Mason, CEO at Zentila

And the research backs this up. PFK Hospitality Research is forecasting that U.S. hotel room sales will be up 5% for 2011 over 2010. STR Global stated that as of August 20, 2011, Revenue Per Available Room or REVPAR was up 8% over the same time period in 2010. 

However, bookings are going to continue to be within a 90-day window or less. Mason stated, "As the economy goes, so goes the booking cycle. When there’s confidence in the economy, there’s a longer booking cycle." 

According to a Y Partnership survey of 150 corporate meeting planners, 20% of the planners said they had to cancel or host the meeting at the corporate location because they did not have enough time to secure an off-site location. 

Please see the recent blog post about the posible cost overruns associated with short-term meeting planning. 

EMBRACE ALL TECHNOLOGY

"The tech component to meetings is here to stay and the best thing for planners to do is embrace it and leverage the expertise of their partners and vendors," said Nick Balleta, CEO of TalkPoint.  This mean the implementation of hybrid meetings, video data streaming, and mobile technology.

AV Event Solutions, a California event services company, is ready and able to provide you with state-of-the-art technology for all your meeting needs. Contact one of their knowledgeable Account Managers today for more information.

How to Sort Out Advanced Technology Equipment Options
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Nov 14, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
3D Plasma TV3-D projection mapping, high-resolution HD projectors, and sharkstooth screen rentals. Wondering which of these technologies you should use at your next event? Before you get all caught up in the oohs and aaahs of this new technology and all they have to offer, it is best to answer the following questions about your event:
  1. What is your message and how will this new technology help you convey it?
  2. What is your meeting’s theme? 
  3. What is your AV budget?

Let’s analyze the in’s and out’s of each of some of these advanced options:

  • HD plasma displays can be used to replace traditional screens. They can be used to display videos and Powerpoint presentation. The quality of the display is great and can be seen even from far away. You will see this technology more and more in meetings as the price point continues to decrease over time. 
  • Sharkstooth scrims are 70% transparent and allows you to project images and make images look like they are 3D, with no glasses required. 
  • LED light equipment rentals can be used to add highlights to the stage. Panels of LED displays can be linked together to create giant canvases that can change as your speakers change. 
  • 3D is cool, just like the movies. There are 2 options with this technology:  1) 3D projection mapping is very expensive but attendees do not require glasses to see the images. 2) 3D LCD projection that require attendees to wear glasses that can cost $1-2 per attendee. 
However, whatever 3D technology you choose, remember 3D implementation can be expensive because a creative team is needed to develop the presentation and you need to give them a lot of lead time to produce the presentation and video.
  • DL3 is a LCD projector that is hung from cables and allows you to use digital content and make colleagues and split off images and move them to anywhere in the room. 
  • Sound and lighting rentals can look rather advanced, but just using creative sources make your event shine. 

    You can have an inexpensive laser show by using a rotating disco ball. A great sound mixer can add digital music to create ambiance to the event.

In summary, there are a lot of advanced technology options available in the marketplace and there will continue to be more in 2012 and beyond. The question you need to ask yourself is which interactive technology tool rentals are going to bring your message home to your audience and within budget. One other thing to consider is if your attendees are going to wonder if you "wasted" monies on unnecessary technology when that same pool of money could have been used for top-notch speakers.  

Are you event planning in California? Look to AV Event Solutions to provide you with state-of-the-art technology options within your budget range. Give them a call today!

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