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Did your attendee pay for bad sound?

Most won’t notice good sound – and shouldn’t, but bad sound – hard to miss. Would you purposely specify bad sound? Bad video? A bad atmosphere?

I recently attended a high profile outdoor event. The weather was perfect and up to 10,000 attendees were expected. I arrived 30 minutes early and already, the grounds were packed. The closest spot my 6′ tall frame could find still had me on my tip toes to see the stage – and even then I couldn’t make out any features of anyone standing on stage. The program hadn’t begun, but looking around I noticed two things right off the bat: There was no video screens for obstructed or out of viewing range audience members and I wasn’t in line with any delay speakers – meaning I was fairly confident that I wasn’t going to hear the program very well (if at all).

Sure enough, the program started and as expected, the sound was right on the edge of being unintelligible – but the crowd was completely engaged and whisper-quiet so that helped. I just can’t imagine what anyone heard beyond fifty feet of my position.

So that leads me to ask. Why was this so poorly implemented? I can’t imagine whoever organized this event specifically asked to under deliver to the audience. Did the sound provider ask the right questions? Was a site survey performed? Or did they simply provide a product as requested?

As a service provider, my first duty is to ask questions and learn everything about the event and your objectives. Type of event, venue, and audience size are critical points of discussion when planning your event. These are the basic starting points to specify the equipment needed to provide a proper experience for your audience. My job is to make you look like a rockstar – meaning audience is happy, you’re happy, and your boss is happy. It’s really simple: I help you create an engaging environment for your audience. If your provide isn’t asking the questions helping you envision the big picture, it may be time to shop around.

What could’ve been done different going into this outdoor event? Start with the area: Stage placement. Where will the stage sit and which way will it face? Place an object in that area or have someone stand there. From there, walk the space. How far off to one side can attendees go? How far back? Are you walking, stopping and looking towards the stage? Can you see that object? What is the estimated audience size? As people fill in, don’t assume they will stay centered on the stage. Account for that area unless it will be barricaded off. If you can’t control the area, assume it’s usable space for attendees & make sure it’s covered. I’m assuming the sound system as provided would’ve covered 5,000 attendees, but why wasn’t there a plan in place for increased attendance? As an attendee, I heard the estimated attendance going into the event – surely the event organizers must have had that information.

Prior to any event, it’s essential to have a detailed conversation about your event. Have that conversation. Visit the venue. Walk the space. Convey your vision. Have a plan. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Your AV provider should be guiding you along and helping you fill in the blanks. Your A/V provider is  only as good as your last performance so it’s in their interest to make it the best!

So what is the cost of bad sound?

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