Demystifying Event AV : What Event Planners Should Know

October 31, 2014

A recent study shows that meeting planners need to know more about event AV (audiovisual) production in events. Results from the Event Leadership Institute (E.L.I.) report showed that meeting and event professionals scored an average of 48 out of 100 when asked about technical event production. I’m no mathematician, but that doesn’t exactly give us an advantage. Founder and executive director of E.L.I., Howard Givner, wrote in a BizBash article,“Over the years, planners have gotten smarter and more sophisticated when it comes to just about every aspect of meeting planning…….Yet, when it comes to audiovisuals and production, we get shy. Perhaps we’re embarrassed to admit something we don’t know?”

The term, AV, or audiovisual, may refer to both sound and visual components, but it’s much more than that. Business presentations are all about learning and using the proper AV components can really help drive whatever messaging you intend to deliver home.

I found an interesting infographic in a MeetingsNet article that illustrates just how critical an aspect AV is for learning at meetings. For example, did you know that:

  • If a person hears a message and then looks at a related graphic, he/she absorbs an additional 91% of the message.
  • The choice of color can affect how a person interacts with a message.
  • Music can have a role in heightened learning.
  • Even the size of the presentation screen influences how people process information.

If you are the type of person who doesn’t know the AV lingo, like me, then you’ll probably find the following information quite useful in helping you understand the basics. The table below is an overview of various AV roles and associated responsibilities:

A1 (Audio Engineer):

This person is in charge of the main audio system. Responsible for recording, mixing, and reproducing live sound aspects of the event and may also participate in the pre-production of the audio design. They might also be referred to as Front of the House (FOH) engineer.

A2 (Audio Assist):

The A2 assists running cables, rig assembly for hanging audio systems, backline, wireless mic frequency control, and other duties that the A1 designates.

AV Tech Operate/Floater:

A general AV Technician that operates or floats simple break-out room set-ups and general exhibit floors. Services end client and presenters. Ensures smooth meeting flow and may also be referred to as Break Out Manager.

AV Tech Set/Strike:

Commonly referred to as “Stagehands”. General AV Technician is responsible for loading/unloading of trucks; setting up and striking (breaking down) audio, lighting, and video equipment.

Camera Operator:

Operates camera at a fixed position.

Camera Operator (Hand- Held):

Operates camera at a non- fixed position.


Assembles staging, set, and prop pieces.

Computer Network Tech:

In charge of setting up and servicing computer networks.

Computer Tech:

General computer technician that sets and strikes computers, installs and troubleshoots basic software issues.

L1 (Master Electrician):

Works directly with the Lighting Programmer. The L1 leads the lighting construction. This includes; interpreting the lighting plot for rig and light fixture placement, assignment of dimmer patches, and final focus. May also program and operate simple lighting systems.

L2 (Lighting Assist):

Places lighting elements, builds truss, and assists in the focus of the lighting system, may also operate spotlights during show.

Lighting Programmer/ Director (LD):

Designs the “Look” for the show and oversees construction of the lighting system. Programs and operates lighting board, and is responsible for lighting cues during show. Pre-production involvement is highly recommended.

Labor Coordinator:

On-site representative. The Labor Coordinator works directly with the client for labor specifications, accrual of time sheets, billing accuracy, and ensures the timely arrival of labor. This position is by request of the client but is encouraged for shows with large or multiple crews that span an extensive period of time.


Responsible for the placement and setting of projection displays. The Projectionist also troubleshoots, color matches projectors, and ensures correct color and black levels.

PowerPoint Designer:

This person works closely with the client/presenter to construct PowerPoint presentations/show graphics on all aspects of design and content. Pre-show construction of presentations/show graphics is highly recommended.

PowerPoint Operator:

Responsible for editing of PowerPoint presentations and other computer generated displays. The operator is also responsible for slide cueing and advancement. The operator can also assist in the creation of presentations and show graphics.

Project Manager:

This person is the on-site operations manager and the liaison between the client, the crew, and venue management. Specific roles of the Project Manager should be out-lined by the client to ensure the proper selection of an individual.
Show Director: This person oversees the entire show and presentation ensuring the smooth integration of all departments as well as calling the execution of all show cues. Spot Operator: An operator proficient at operating various types of spotlights. Usually an L2 is in this position. (This does not include truss spot.)

Teleprompter Operator:

Responsible for setting, striking, and operating teleprompter systems.

Technical Director:

Responsible for video presentation. Generally calls camera shots.


General labor that assists in load-in, set-up, strike, and load-out. Their main role is to assist with laborious task such as, stage building, set-piece placement, truss placement, case pushing, cable runs, scaffold building, etc.

Tape Operator:

Manages and executes all playback cues. Sets up and maintains all specified recordings, including monitoring audio record levels during show. Also labels and delivers all taped material after show.

Truck Loader:

Labor that loads and unloads trucks.

V1 (Video Engineer):

The V1 directs the construction, wiring, and timing of the video system. The V1 also color-matches and shades cameras, routes video signals to record bays, projection, and other mediums.

V1 (Camera Engineer):

Responsible for the camera system and switching to screens. The V1 directs various camera operators and also color-matches and shades cameras, routes video signals to record bays, projection, etc.

V2 (Video Assist):

Assists the V1, projectionist, or tape op in setting and strike of video equipment, running and labeling cables, building cameras, and similar activities. The V2 may also assist with camera shading during the show.

Knowledge can be the best way to equip us for the uncertain future that lies ahead. We should do our best to extend our breadth of knowledge in every area of meetings management, including technical production. To delve deeper into this topic, the Event Leadership Institute offers a course built specifically from the event and meeting professional perspective, and you can click the link below to find out more:

Technical Meeting and Event Production

About the author

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