Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

November 2013

How to Use AV to Enhance 'Small' Meetings

By Sarah Beauchamp, Assistant Editor

What constitutes a “small meeting” is entirely up to the planner, according to Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, director of education, training, and events for Practice Green Health, and Laurie Knapp, vice president of sales for PSAV Presentation Services — as they explain in “Audiovisual for the Smaller Meeting,” this month's video in The Intersection Series: Where Technology Meets Inspiration, presented by PCMA and PSAV. But whether “small” means 15 attendees or 1,500, both Abernathy and Knapp agree, utilizing audiovisiual correctly can help enhance a meeting. “It's about the attendee experience,” Abernathy said in the video, “whether or not they want to come back, and what they feel overall during that meeting.”

Smaller meetings can mean smaller budgets, but Abernathy encourages event organizers not to focus too much on the numbers. “It's really important that you develop that supplier relationship,” she said, “because you can really go further with the budget.” Abernathy once created an elegant gala on a dime by manipulating audiovisual. “Most of my funding needed to go into the entertainment and food, and left little towards decor,” she said. “In working closely with my AV provider, I was able to use lighting to set a ‘mood’ — lighting under my buffet tables to create a soft glow when the rest of the room was softly lit in blue.”

Abernathy has also found that gobos — lit logos that are projected on a wall or space — can add something to an event at little cost. “I use gobos to highlight sponsors or a certain major event at my conference,” she said, “and people are always incredibly impressed.”

On the supplier end, Knapp stresses the importance of building an AV strategy around the overarching objectives of your event. “Share your meeting goals with your AV provider,” Knapp said. “They can help take you there.” Once your objectives are clear, it's important to create an environment in line with those intentions. “We want [AV] to have a purpose,” Knapp said. “We want it to enhance learning.”

One approach is to take ideas applied to larger meetings and scale them down. For instance, instead of a large custom event app, maybe a tailored a la carte app would work better for a smaller group. “It's the planner's role to take it to that next level,” Abernathy said. “If you don't go in that direction, you'll never succeed in a really innovative meeting. You'll be stuck doing the same thing year after year and not realize the full potential of what's out there.”

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