SmartSource Rentals Blog


4 Tips to Get in Touch with the Needs of Your Meeting Attendees
Aug 30, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

arsAlmost every planner I know, tries to effectively read the pulse of their audience — whether it be through paper and pencil surveys, observing body language or responding to complaints. We want to keep our attendees learning and happy. But in today's digital world, are surveys even relevant? Won't attendees just let you know how they feel?

To learn more about what the participant wants and whether or not you met the mark, intelligent surveying needs to be completed.  Christopher Korody, Partner at Audience Metrix, recently shared with BizBash some of his ideas on ways to effectively poll attendees. Today's post is dedicated to co-mingling his ideas with a few of my own.  

Here are the tips:

Tip #1: Several months before the event, identify your attendees' goals and structure content around it. 

Find out what topics, subjects and speakers your audience is craving to learn more about. This can be completed by creating an online community, dedicating a space on your website or asking for input via Twitter. 

The intent is to crowdsource the agenda so attendees obtain the content and presenters they want. In addition, Korody points out to remember about networking. Many times the attendee's major goal is to network with as many individuals as possible. 

Tip #2: Complete a "pulse of the event" survey (with the same questions) to see if you moved the needle. 

Korody stated that individuals come to your conference with a preconceived mindset about your event, products and even, you. Via wireless audience response systems, ask the same questions at the beginning, end and throughout the conference. Here are a few to consider: 

  • As right now, has the conference met your expectations? 
  • As of right now, have we delivered the content the way you want it? 
  • As of right now, did the description of the conference match the content you received? 
  • Have we made good use of your time? 
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being don't know at all to 5 being know very well, please rate how well you know our organization. 
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not relevant to your job and 5 being very relevant, please rate the content of the conference. 

In addition, if this is a training seminar you can pre- and post-test the knowledge level of the audience to make certain your trainer met all the company's learning objectives. 

Tip #3: Dig deeper with open-ended questions. 

By providing computer kiosks on the conference floor or by polling via mobile devices, you can ask attendees deeper questions that allow them to tell you know how they really feel. Here are a few conversation starters: 

  • What do you wish you had more time to do? 
  • What session could have been shorter? Longer?
  • What was the best use of your time and why? 

Tip #4: Evaluate all your speakers and sessions and only your speakers and sessions. 

Surveying the room, food and other amenities at the conference is nice but it isn't going to help you create great content for next year's conference. Leave the meeting room temperature and layout to the Twitter feed. 

Every presenter and topic should be duly evaluated and it is best to have attendees complete this eval on-the-spot when it is fresh in their mind.  

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, has Audience Response rentals, computer kiosks, iPads and much more for all your meeting and event needs. Give them a call at 888.249.4903 to get the ball rolling! 

5 Fabulous Ways to Get Everyone in Sync at Your Next Sales Meeting
Aug 28, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

meetingIf you are in sales or manage a sales team, how many times have you attended a meeting only to leave it bored, frustrated or confused? Most reps would concur that many sales sessions are downright inefficient because they don't adequately address the true reason they are brought together…

 …to meet or exceed the sales quota of the company. 

A realistic plan to meet quota usually does not happen. The meeting becomes a complaint fest. Or the manager has loaded his or her talk onto the PowerPoint presentation equipment and goes on and on without one regard for the folks in the room. 

If you are the manager or event organizer of sales meetings, you need to get everyone on the same proverbial page. Dr. Fred Kofman, Author of Conscious Business, talked about this in his recent LinkedIn posting "Put Your Meeting on the Wall." I am taking his ideas a step further by integrating interactive technology tool rentals into the equation. Here is what he said needs to happen to run an efficient and effective meeting: 

  1. Put the Slides on the Wall.

    Kofman suggests you print out all the PPT charts and tape them to the wall. Have everyone review the charts, sort of like an art walk where people stop, read and think about the message. 

    A video wall is a great option for this. Not only can you load the entire presentation onto it, but you can make each slide larger or smaller depending on the request of the team. By loading all the documentation onto the server, you can access slides when you need them. 

  2. Rent iPads for the "walk". 

    Rather than using post-it notes or notebook paper for questions, thoughts or suggestions about each slide, give participants an iPad where two things can happen: 1) They can have the presentation pre-loaded on the iPad with an app that allows notes on each slide and 2) Participants can take general notes on the iPad and fall back to them during the discussion period.  

  3. Go around the room and review feedback. 

    Each person can ask clarifying questions and make comments about the slides. If you have a large staff, limit each attendee's talking time. Ask them to provide you with the most important or pressing item first, working down to the least important. This ensures the team focuses in on the most important meeting metrics.  

  4. Have an administrator update and display feedback on the fly. 

    While participants are talking, have someone update the charts and display the feedback on the video wall. Discuss as a group and make certain everyone understands the comment or question. 

  5. When it's all said and done — do you have a plan to meet your sales quota? 

    At the end of the meeting you should have a clear path to making sales revenue. And because everyone has had buy-in, it will now be their plan to manage, not yours to administer. 

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, has presentation services audio visual equipment which includes, video walls, iPads and laptop computers. Check out their express quote form to get the process started and allow your sales staff keep in sync all year long! 

Need Help Justifying Your Conference Attendance? Here’s an Easy Process to Help Make it Happen!
Aug 26, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan


Many individuals need to complete a cost/benefit analysis when considering a conference. We all do it in our head — as we look over the speakers, see where the conference is being held and lastly peruse the cost — which can be expensive. But even if you are convinced you must be there, your management team may want something more. Rather than fighting with them, why not give them what they want? 

Below is a tool you can use to help justify your attendance. Use the parts that make the most sense, and by all means, find out in advance if this seminar is going to be offered in a hybrid or webinar setting. If it is, make certain you justify the reason you need to be there face-to-face

Conference Expenses Worksheet
Description Notes Expense
Conference Registration   $     
Materials Fee This could be the cost of software, books or CDs $     
Travel  Prepare the cost of a flight, train or driving. 
Show time and expense with each option. 
Lodging Show inside and outside the room block. $     
Transportation Airport shuttle, taxi or subway from transportation hub $     
Rental Car This can be expensive. Avoid this, if possible $     
Mileage Reimbursement/Parking For driving option $     
Meals Look at the company's per Diem policy $     
Total Expense   $    

Benefits are harder to quantify that expenses, but with the proper goals and tools they can be quantified. The key is to share with management that expenses are going to accrue in the next 30 to 90 days, while benefits may not actually be materialize for up to a year from now. Setting a realistic expectation will be paramount to the meeting participant's success in obtaining conference approval. 

Conference Benefits Worksheet
Description Notes Value
Networking Face-to-Face  Identify the total number of attendees, exhibitors and speakers that will be there. Set a goal for the total number of people you will network with.  $     
Session content How many sessions will you attend and what will you learn in the process. If professional credit is associated with the content, all the better.  $     
Technology What interactive technology tool rentals will you learn more about?
How will these skills benefit the company? 
Processes What new process will you learn? Is it best practices?  $     
Implementation What can you implement within the next 30 days? 60 days? 90 days? Spell out your plan before or immediately following the conference.  $     
Specific Vendors On the trade show floor, what specific vendors will you visit and what will you be evaluating or learning more about?  $     
Training What industry specific training will you learn? Is it required? How will you be able to do your job better after the training occurs?  $     
Team Building If you are going with multiple individuals from your organization, how will you work better together as a team?  $     
Total Benefit   $     

If the benefits outweigh the expenses, clearly your attendees should participate in your conference! If they do not, then it is your job as the event organizer to change some things on either the expense or benefit side.  

Are you event planning in California? Look no further than AV Event Solutions for all your conference equipment rental needs! 

4 Killer Ways to Effectively Use Facebook at Your Next Conference
engage attendees, SmartSource Rentals, polling attendees, Audience Response Systems rentals
Aug 23, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

facebookEncouraging attendees to post to your conference Facebook page can seem overwhelming — a bit like herding cats. However, with over 1 billion users and growing, it is a safe bet that most attendees have a personal Facebook account. With that many users, it would be unwise to ignore the power of this social channel. 

Your goal is to request attendees to take a more active role on your fan page. The key is to encourage social conversations between those that are there and those that are not. 

Buffer, a social media aggregater, recently wrote a lengthy blog post about Facebook statistics and what they mean to the average person. I have taken 4 of their ideas and applied them to the industry. Here they are: 

Killer Way #1: Post Questions.

According to KISSmetrics, an organization that identifies and understands the metrics that drive online business, posts that ask questions receive 100% more comments than standard text-based posts. The most popular posts begin with the words: 

  • Should
  • Would
  • Which or 
  • Who

Applicability to your event: On your Facebook event page, ask questions. Perhaps hold a daily contest selecting a winner randomly from the pool of correct answers for the "Question of the Day". Ask attendees to pose questions for other attendees, speakers and sponsors to encourage two-way conversations. 

Killer Way #2: Offer a Discount. 

According to Socially Stacked, an organization that will customize your Facebook Page with promotions or contests, 42% of Facebook fans "like" a page in order to receive a discount or coupon. 

Applicability to your event: Work with area restaurants and attractions to offer a discount or coupon that is only available through your Facebook fan page. Also, offer an early bird discount to next year's conference exclusively through your fan page. 

Killer Way #3: Photos please. 

According to KISSmetrics, photos receive: 

  • 104% more comments
  • 84% more click-throughs and 
  • 53% more likes 

than text based posts. According to Wishpond, a social lead generation company, photo albums receive 180% more engagement than your average post. 

Applicability to your event: Ask attendees, sponsors, presenters and exhibitors to upload photos to your event page AND/OR ask them to email you the best photos of the day. Put them into a photo album and upload to FB. Prospective or virtual attendees can obtain a good overview of the day's events when a well thought out album is put together.. 

Killer Way #4: Create a Contest. 

According to Socially Stacked, 35% of Facebook fans like a page so they can compete in contests. Their research also indicates that a contest such as "Caption this Photo" can bring in 5.5 times more comments than regular posts. According to Salesforce, contest related words like: winner, win, and enter are more likely to engage users. 

Applicability to your event: If you have a multi-day conference, ask attendees to caption one or more of the photos from the day before and offer a prize to the best caption. Ask exhibitors to run their contests through your fan page and announce the winners on a video wall rental unit where attendees can stand by and see the results. 

Are you event planning in California? Contact AV Event Solutions for great technology offerings including iPads, video walls and touch panel kiosks that can easily display all the activity on your Facebook Page! 

So Little Time and So Many Speakers! 5 Minutes to Effectively Judging a PowerPoint Presentation
Aug 21, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan


As much as we would like to get away from PowerPoint, it is still the number 1 presentation method used by most speakers and facilitators. However, now more than ever, you need to review the slides to make certain the message is right for your audience. You can no longer take for granted that presenter is the subject matter expert on effective PowerPoint presentations. You are. But you have so little time — how will you manage? 

Take the next 5 minutes to read this blog for effective methods in evaluating PowerPoint. To save even more time, forward the entire post to your speakers and ask them to follow this advice. Here are the 6 most helpful tips: 

  1. Use Large and Legible Fonts.

    Ideally, when you run through the presenter's talk, go to the farthest corner of the room and see if you can see the message. According to  Guy Kawasaki, Advisor at Motorola Mobility, the smallest font type used should be 30 point. However, if you think that is too large or too small, take the oldest person in the room and divide by 2. That is your font point. 

    In addition, use legible fonts like Arial, Times New Roman or Rockwell. Clean and crisp is the name of the game. 

  2. Keep it Short

    Kawasaki recommends that the presentation be no longer than 20 minutes and many other presentation methods are shorter. Take for example, TED (18 minutes), PechaKucha (6 minutes and 20 seconds) and Ignite (5 minutes).

    The point is a brief presentation keeps the speaker on point, focused and gives attendees plenty of time for questions. 

  3. Follow the Rule of 10. 

    Kawasaki uses only 10 slides for any presentation. It doesn't matter what the topic is, this is the format he uses. Each slide contains a single image with one sentence or phrase

    In addition, his first slide identifies the problem, second slide the solution, and so on up to slide 10 which is the call to action. 

  4. Show Them. 

    Attendees are visual learners. According to Price consulting firm, attendees will retain your speaker's message the following way: 

    55% visually (through photos or videos) 
    38% by what the speaker says and
    7% by the text on the slide. 

  5. Tell a Story. 

    Whether you or your speaker are conducting a product launching event, training seminar or sales meeting, you are trying to sell your attendees on an idea or concept. However, you need to connect to them both intellectually and emotionally. How do you do that? By telling them a story — that has a beginning, middle and end.

  6. Know the Attendees. 

    Make certain the speaker tailors their message to the attendees. If you rent iPads for your meeting, encourage the presenter to keep the line of communication open with Twitter. A speaker that can adapt to to the pulse of the audience is one that you want to have…not one who is delivering the same talk for  the 200th time. 

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, has the PowerPoint presentation equipment to help your speaker shine, including LCD projector and screen rentals, Plasma displays and video walls. Fill out their express quote form to get the process started! 

Why The One Percent Solution will Work for Trade Show Exhibitors Every Time
Aug 19, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

one percent solution

Show managers often hear complaints from frustrated exhibitors asking a simple question:  

Where have all the attendees gone? 

At the Exhibit & Event Marketers Association's Red Diamond Congress held at the end of July, meeting participants heard a new perspective about attracting attendees: the 1% solution. 

The One Percent Solution: Sell Your Way to the Top One Percent by Brian Osterhaus surmises that there is a simple, yet effective framework to build a winning repeatable process. Bob Milam, commonly referred to as "Trade Show Bob" stated in a PCMA blog post, "The conventional belief that big traffic leads to big results is wrong." He went on to declare that only a tiny number of attendees really matter to the exhibitor and that is who the exhibitor should focus on. 
Miliam stated, "It's all about helping your exhibitors understand how to target those key attendees."
Given that the right 1% of attendees are your exhibitor's target, how might they attract them? And how can interactive technology tool rentals help in this process? Here are four ways exhibitors can help themselves succeed: 
First, target your email and/or direct mail campaigns. Rather than sending correspondence to all attendees, try and segment meeting participants into one of two categories: 1) Individuals who have transacted business with you in the past or present or 2) Individuals you know are a good fit for your offering. 
Second, make your booth a "beehive of buzz." One way to do this is to have a reason for them to stop by your booth, such as offering them the ability to charge their mobile device while learning more about your business offerings. Create a visual storyboard about your company, customers and product offerings through a video wall, touch screen and computer kiosk. The more visually attractive your booth is, the higher probability attendees will want to stop by and talk to you. 
Third, ask good, straightforward qualifying questions. Your time is valuable and so is the attendee's. Don't beat around the bush. Ask them a qualifying question and then listen to the response. If they are not a fit, let them go. If you aren't sure, show them a short video and then ask more questions. 
Fourth, if they are a good fit, ask if you can scan their information into your lead retrieval system. Once you have gotten to this point, you will be sending on qualified leads to your sales organization to follow up with. In addition, you can integrate your meeting notes into the system while they are fresh in your mind. Most leads are never followed up on because the volume is too great and the leads are weak. Wouldn't it be great to give your sales organization a fewer number of better qualified leads that they actually have a chance to close? 
Terence Donnelly, Vice President of Sales at Experient sums up this exhibitor mind shift the following way, "If exhibitors have a poor return at the show, they blame show management, never themselves. If they don't get the the ROI (they are looking for), they're not going to exhibit again."
AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, can provide your exhibitors with creative and interactive technology tools to get and keep attendees at their booth! Call them at 888.249.4903, submit an express quote, or start a live chat with one of their experienced account professionals! 


5 Principles of Meeting Design: Are You Using Any of Them?
Aug 16, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan


Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is going to unleash to the world a comprehensive Meeting Design Toolkit on August 20th and will include the following: 

  • How-to Documents
  • Worksheets
  • A Case Study 
  • Implementation Phases and 
  • Tutorials on how to use the toolkit. 

This downloadable document will be free to all MPI members and will be found at

Here are MPI's 5 principles for best practices in meeting design: 


Setting clear and measurable goals will help you and your stakeholders design a great meeting and help contribute toward ROI. It is also important to have your attendees evaluate meeting content, speakers and exhibitors, so you can find out what attendees like and don't like about your conference. Evaluations can be anonymously and instantly collected through wireless Audience Response Systems


Designing a meeting with the attendee in mind allows you to create a meaningful and memorable experience for the participant. Creating meeting content in a bubble, with no attendee input, can lead to disastrous results. Ask attendees what they want, who they want to hear from and why they think this topic or speaker is important to the conference. This can be handled virtually through crowdsourcing via an online community. 


Providing attendees with what they want, when they want it, is the future of learning. Meetings are moving toward an on-demand methodology in both the face-to-face and virtual environment. Attendees come to meetings to learn and network. However, sometimes due to work demands or travel budgets, it is just not possible for attendees to travel to a live event. Providing F2F, hybrid and virtual offerings allows a multitude of attendees to learn in the environment they are most comfortable in or can afford. 


The ability to collectively generate new ideas, solutions and plans is a great reason individuals get together for a meeting. If you rent iPads for your meeting, attendees can mind map solutions through an app or ask questions via social media postings. They can collaborate F2F, virtually or both. Attendees want to learn from each other as much as they want to learn from the presenter. 


Attendees want to connect with each other physically, intellectually and emotionally. By hitting all three of these levels, attendees are most likely to have higher satisfaction with their meeting experience. Providing the right meeting space and content can meet the first two needs, but what about the last one? Emotional connections occur through the ability of attendees to relate to each other and the speaker. Stories and icebreakers are great ways to make this happen. 

AV Event Solutions has a variety of interactive technology tool rentals to help make your meeting design the best of the best! Give them a call today at 888.249.4903 to speak with one of their experienced Account Executives to learn more about their state-of-the-art technology offerings! 

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