AV equipment for events: the ultimate checklist for planners

Equipment, expert tips, questions to ask and more - this is the only list you'll need

Updated on 16 May 2022 • Written By Lawrence Calman-Grimsdale

AV equipment for events: the ultimate checklist for planners

First off, what actually is an AV equiptment checklist? Let's start at the beginning. AV equipment incorporates any equipment relating to sound visuals. Some primary examples of essential AV equipment are microphones, sound systems and screens or projectors. That being said, the list of what is typically needed for an event is much longer. There are so many possibilities in fact that it can feel a little daunting. That’s where a checklist comes in.

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An AV checklist is a list of the exact equipment you need for your event. Even the most straightforward, pared-back events still need some element of AV consideration, even if it’s just a projector. The list should cover the exact specifications of what’s needed, with as much detail as possible. This then allows the venue or tech team ample time and information to ensure everything is ready on schedule.

There are lots of different ways to create an AV checklist. You may even need multiple lists. For example, if you’re planning a site visit before the event, you will likely need a list for that. This might include tasks like testing the lighting or double-checking the rooms are suitable for your desired AV setup.

Another checklist you could need is a list of questions for the venue or tech team. This might include:

  • What is the setup timeframe?
  • Will we need additional power for our setup?
  • Will there be someone on-site for the event in case of malfunction?

One final example is the event setup checklist itself. This will likely feature tasks like meeting with the venue coordinator, overseeing the equipment setup and testing the setup in each room. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but with the right preparation, your event will go off without a hitch!

THIS GUIDE COVERS:

A typical AV checklist for events

Microphones

There are lots of different types of microphones, so it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs. For example, lapel mics are great for hands-free presentations, while CatchBox microphones are great for Q&As with the audience. You may also need a wireless microphone transmitter to send the audio to the sound system. Bodypack transmitters are typically used for this, as they can be mounted to clothing or put in a pocket.

Mixing desk/soundboard

If you have more than one microphone, a mixing desk or soundboard will be needed. These allow for multiple ‘channels’, which could be for each microphone plus a separate one for music. Each channel can be configured with the right volume, gain and other settings, ensuring any changeovers are silky smooth.

Sound system

While most rooms will have a sound system, there are again lots of different types. The in-house system might not match your requirements, in which case a special system will need to be brought in. For simpler events, however, the in-house system will likely suffice.

Screens and projectors

It wouldn’t be an AV checklist without vision, so make sure you have the right screens for your visual needs. How big do you need them to be? How many screens do you need? What type? Be sure to confirm the aspect ratio, as having squished images is a surefire way to look unprofessional.

Wifi and frequency band

It might sound obvious, but the last thing you want is the rainbow wheel of doom in the middle of your event. Be sure to allow enough bandwidth for all the devices you’re using at the event (especially if it’s being streamed), plus enough for your guests. You might want to consider putting the attendees on a separate network.

Using a specific frequency band will prevent the mics from having to compete with noise from other wireless devices. 

Electricity supply

We all need energy, and your AV equipment is no different. Be sure to confirm with the venue exactly how much power you need. Is the in-house supply sufficient, or will you need additional power? Unsurprisingly, this is pretty crucial.

Adapters, cables and dongles

Perhaps the easiest thing to lose in the entire world, these are a must. If you have guest speakers, be sure to check whether, say, their laptop has a HDMI port. Even if they say yes, have an adapter ready anyway to allow for good old fashioned human error.

AV tips for planning events

Minimise waste and plan for a hybrid event

Joe Harris, the client services manager at 15Hatfields, has these tips:

“At 15Hatfields, we’re advocates for making events as sustainable as possible, which adds an additional dimension to the importance of investing in quality AV for both in-person and hybrid events.

"Effective digital signage and interactive displays will often eradicate the need for single-use printed collateral. As awareness around reducing waste in events grows, event planners are increasingly asking themselves: 'does this really need to be printed?', and if the answer is no, which it often will be, there is most probably a digital solution.”

“The most significant shift in event AV in recent months is the accessibility of using simplified systems that event planners and delegates can operate themselves without relying on full AV teams, thus reducing the cost of staff needed.

"We’ve just invested in a new hybrid conferencing solution, which maintains quality streaming for remote delegates. This intelligent new all-in-one solution, Logitech Rally Bar, links to any laptop and can be integrated with Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The system is designed for mid-sized meetings, with a separate ‘Logitech Rally Plus’ system specifically tailored for larger meetings.

"The idea is not to compromise on quality but to simplify AV as much as possible and allow remote guests to join events through the familiarity of virtual platforms that we have all become accustomed to.”

Collect all presentations beforehand

Rather than switching between multiple files, try combining all presentations into one. That way, you can move to the next at the click of a button. For this to work, you’ll need to set deadlines and send reminders as last-minute changes are a common occurrence. It’s good to use an online platform like Google Slides, as this means there is only one version of the master document, and everyone can access it.

Test the AV setup

The most obvious tip is still the most important. Test everything. Soundcheck the microphones and speakers and test the visual elements (can you see them from the back?). Bring spare batteries in case any microphones run out and make sure the computer is wired in (Ethernet) so that it doesn’t have to rely on WiFi.

Record everything

Unless there really isn’t any need, it’s a good idea to record the event. That way, attendees can review your content and consolidate the information they were supplied with. If there were unanswered questions in the Q&A, you can answer them in the post-event email or article.

Questions to ask your venue about AV equipment

James Bogle, head of marketing and communications for the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, kindly gave some great examples of questions to ask and why you should ask them.

Does room hire include event AV?

"This will vary depending on the size of the room and the scope of the facilities but will give you a good idea of how much AV is already included and how much you will need to budget. It is likely that you will need a custom audio-visual estimate based on your technical brief."

What AV equipment will we need?

"Establishing your requirements early means the AV team can work with you to understand the type of equipment and the numbers of each that you require e.g. ensuring the correct number and types of microphones for speakers, the lighting and sound equipment that are needed to deliver the best possible presentations and sessions. In parallel with providing you with the equipment to run your event, you need the right people with the correct technical skills operating it, and at the QEII Centre, this is one of the reasons we heavily invest in our staff training."

Will we have a dedicated technician for your event?

"This is key as it will give you the reassurance that you have dedicated support on the day of your event. At the QEII Centre, we specify the correct specialist skills, based on the technical equipment necessary to achieve the event objectives. Since these specialist engineers are in high demand, the earlier you can confirm your event, the more likely a venue will be able to match the skills to the equipment specification."

What branding opportunities are available?

"Make sure that you are able to maximise the publicity that you can obtain from your event, whether this is being pride of place on a video wall and screens around the venue or on lecterns and gobos there are so many different opportunities available. At the QEII Centre, we advise and offer suggestions for branding opportunities but we would always leave the final decision to you. We organise a visuals service if we are supplying graphics and staging and these visuals are to scale so that you can see exactly what it would look like in the space."

What facilities do you have for remote participants?

"If you are looking to increase your global reach or would like to give an opportunity to delegates who are unable to attend in person, being able to organise a hybrid event is key and we have been organising these for many years, as well as during the pandemic. We offer live streaming i.e. a stream from the QEII Centre, out onto the public internet, to be picked up by a remote audience who can participate using a “Chat” function such as Sli.do.

We also offer video-conferencing (a two-way conversation from the QEII Centre to a particular location, for instance to a remote presenter, and back). The video conference can then be streamed out, or recorded, edited and shared."

We’re not saying you should ask all of those questions, but they might be useful as examples. In reality, it really depends on the venue. Some will take care of everything and have their own tech team, while others leave it to you in more of a blank canvas style.

Venues with top-tier AV equipment 

15Hatfields, South Bank

Offering state-of-the-art AV equipment is 15Hatfields' bread and butter. The venue boasts an intelligent plug-and-play AV system with 12 HDMI inputs routable to any screen, 5000-lumen HD projectors, laptops with the latest software, built-in PA systems with ceiling speakers throughout the venue, roving, lapel and table microphones to meet any audio needs and of course the Logitech Rally Bar which allows cutting edge video conferencing. In terms of internet, the connection here is one of the fastest in the UK.
Where: 15 Hatfields, London, SE1 8DJ
Book now: 15Hatfields

IET London: Savoy Place, Covent Garden

IET London: Savoy Place has always been a hub for forward-thinking engineering. The lecture theatres feature integrated video conferencing using built-in PTZ cameras, encrypted microphones, ultra-wide supernova screens, dedicated AV technicians and a remote banner flying system. Some of the other AV facilities available are 48 to 98-inch displays with HDMI and VGA inputs, Polycom video conferencing, video conferencing and software integration, integrated audio and PA systems and free WiFi. 
Where: 2 Savoy Place, London, WC2R 0BL
Book now: IET London: Savoy Place

QEII Centre, Westminster

Offering a truly awe-inspiring capacity of up to 2,500, QEII Centre is certainly a sight to behold. The venue has the tech to match, including 27 dedicated PA systems, digital and printed branding opportunities, stage set design, 3D visuals, live web streaming, digital registration, wayfinding and advertising, social media engagement and more. With all this (and more) it's no wonder the centre hosts over 4000 presentations a year. 
Where: Broad Sanctuary, London, SW1P 3EE
Book now: QEII Centre

Congress Centre, Holborn

Congress Centre has one of the best AV setups in the city, equipping it for pretty much any type of event. Some of the highlights are a surround sound system with ceiling voice enhancement speakers, LED coloured lighting behind and in front of the stage, two 85-inch HD plasma screens with 3D capabilities and a 32-channel mixing desk.
Where: 28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS
Book now: Congress Centre

If you're keen on staying green, we have a guide for keeping your event eco-friendly.