Conference production specialists Mercian Events Ltd celebrate another fantastic awards evening in Worcestershire working alongside Opening Doors & Venues Limited.

For the second year running, the two specialist teams joined forces to produce the Worcestershire Apprenticeships Awards 2019 on behalf of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership and Worcestershire County Council at the Treetops Pavilion West Midland Safari Park.

confetti burst

Gathering together for the black-tie event, very ably hosted by Paralympic Gold Medallist, Marc Woods, were 320 guests including 28 of the county’s best apprentices, apprenticeship employers, career leads, schools and training providers.

Mercian created the perfect atmosphere with bespoke staging, sound and lighting built around the client’s branding incorporating mood lighting and welcome screens in the main entrance, a 86-inch plasma showing the table plan, two large rear projection screens on either side of the stage connected to central repeater screens which showcased the pre-recorded videos, social media feeds, finalists and winners throughout the night. The organising team were able to communicate discreetly using a radio microphone headset system to ensure a slick production.

“This year, the client requested singing waiters during the dessert course of the meal which certainly added additional energy and saw a number of guests dancing on the stage – something we had not envisaged,” recalled Ben McCaffery, Mercian’s Director of Events. “It definitely added to the heightening excitement of the evening!”

Entrance monitors

The awards proceedings finished with a bang as bursts of confetti were set off to a rapturous applause for the overall winners Phosters Ltd and Thomas Smith of DRPG.

Rose Padmore, Founding Director of Opening Doors and Venues, the appointed conference and event organisers, said “The OD&V team are incredibly proud to have, once again, project-managed and delivered a fabulous Worcestershire Apprenticeships Awards supported so ably by Mercian Events. We love working with the Mercian Team because nothing is ever too much for them and their desire to exceed a client’s expectations is equal to our own.”

Keith Istead, Director of Mercian Events added “We have worked seamlessly with the OD&V team for many years now, and as such, we are able to produce conferences and awards events which really hit the mark for the client.”

For further details about Mercian Events Ltd tel: 01905 726665.

86" LED smart screen

New innovative 86″ LED smart screen added to our hire stock

Probably one of the largest TV Monitors in the area has just arrived at the leading AV Equipment supplier – Mercian Events Ltd.

Mercian Events is a Conference and Events equipment specialist based in Worcester supplying top class audiovisual services to the whole of the West Midlands and Greater Birmingham.

These super large monitors are the latest addition to their already extensive range of AV & Presentation Equipment hire stock. Officially it is an 86” Smart LED screen measuring 75” wide by 43” high.

These 86” monitors can be connected to a computer or a pre-recorded USB memory stick to provide crystal clear 4K images perfect for audiences of 60/80 people. They can also be used for viewing major events broadcast on TV.

A specially designed floor stand is used to safely support these monitors once they are in position, and come complete with the built-in capability to adjust the height of the monitor via a handheld remote control to optimism its viewing position.

Director Tim Istead says these new monitors are very much the future and will be used at major venues around the West Midlands and at conferences supplied by Mercian Events throughout the UK.

(For further details contact Tim Istead – 01905 726 665)

Whether you’re hosting a large-scale conference, an award ceremony or a public speaking event, you’ll know how important it is to ensure that your event is planned to perfection down to the very last detail. 

While those details are no doubt essential, it’s even more imperative to make sure that you have the basics sorted well in advance of your event. Choosing your perfect venue and arranging the schedule of the day, of course, go without saying.  However, it’s also worthwhile to think about what audio-visual equipment you will need in advance of your event too. 

Your audio and visual requirements will have a significant impact on a variety of decisions you will need to make. From the venue to your guest speakers, it’s important to think carefully about what technology you will need. To help get you started, we’ve put together some of the best equipment for different types of events. 

Audio Visual Equipment For Conferences

Most conferences follow a similar format. Your guests will usually be seated in a theatre or banquet style (although classroom or u-shapes can be popular too), with your speakers presenting from a stage or area towards one side of the room. 

audio visual equipment for conferences

When choosing your audio-visual equipment, remember that the purpose of conferences is to inform your guests. While there may be activities that your guests partake in (for example, team building or group exercises), the main intent of an event such as this is to help your guests learn more about a particular topic through guest speakers or lecturers. 

With this in mind, it is essential that your audio-visual equipment is clear, easy to see or hear and reliable. You won’t want to skimp on audiovisual equipment hire for this type of event.

Best audio equipment

image of audio visual equipment

PA Systems

PA systems typically include microphones, amplifiers, speakers, mixers and related equipment. They ensure that your speakers can be heard by all your attendees with ease. 

The type of PA system you need for your event will depend on the size of your conference and the venue in which it is held. You may also want to think about your presenter’s preferences. Some, for example, prefer a wireless microphone as it allows them to speak hands-free (which can be helpful if they need to use a remote to control their visuals).

Your venue may have an inbuilt PA system or it is possible to arrange for audio equipment hire too. 

Don’t forget to include induction loop systems in your list of audio equipment, particularly if you know that some of your attendees may be hard of hearing.

Speakers

Speakers are often included in your PA system, but they really are an essential part of your conference set up, which is why we’re mentioning them again. 

When you choose your audio equipment, think about all the different sounds you might need to amplify. For example, will there be audio or visual components included in your guest speakers’ presentations? Do you want any additional music or audio to play elsewhere (for example, during registration or in breakout areas)? All of these will have an impact on the audio equipment you need.

Recording Equipment

You may wish to record your conference audio too. This can be helpful if you want to broadcast your conference content after your event has taken place (for example, as a podcast or video) or use it in future event marketing materials. 

It’s worth considering this ahead of time so that you can arrange for all the necessary equipment to be in place on the day.

Best visual equipment

conference visual equipment

Projectors

Projectors are usually the visual equipment of choice for mid to large conference events. These are typically hooked up to a laptop and project the display onto a projection screen. 

There are a wide variety of projectors out there, so it will be important to choose yours carefully. If you know that your venue has an inbuilt system, it may be worth paying a visit to test the quality. If necessary, hire your own projector system to ensure that your conference attendees can see the screen clearly. After all, there’s nothing worse than a poorly visible presentation when attending a conference.

Projection Screens

As mentioned above, projection screens work in conjunction with projectors. Like with projector equipment, there are a wide variety of projection screens out there. 

When choosing one for your conference, there are a few key elements to think about – the most important of which is the size. Think about how many attendees are planned for your conference and select accordingly. Too small and the display won’t be easily visible from the back. Too large and the display may be overpowering for those near the front.

LED or Plasma Screens

For smaller conference gatherings, a projector and screen may not be necessary. LED or plasma screens (for example, similar to large home televisions) can function well in smaller venues. If your venue doesn’t have this visual technology in the room you choose, it is possible to hire screens like these for your event.

Other Equipment Required

laptops for conference events

Laptops

Along with audio-visual equipment, it’s important not to forget about laptops. You’ll need at least one (if not more!) for your event to run successfully. Remember that cables and adapters can sometimes be problematic, so it may be worth hiring a laptop along with your projector or screen that is purpose-built for events.

Audio Visual Equipment For Award Ceremonies

tpn av hire

Award ceremonies are exciting events and can be a lot of fun to plan. Along with the entertainment, catering and theme décor, it will be important to think about the audio-visual equipment you will need too. These can really make or break an award ceremony event, so be sure to think about your requirements well in advance.

Best Audio Equipment

PA Systems

From announcing the winners to guest speakers, a good PA system is a must for your award ceremony. You may need a variety of different microphones too. For example, your hosts may prefer wireless microphones, with a handheld mic ready for award winners to give their thanks. This may take a bit of coordinating, so talk to your venue about what they’re able to offer you. If necessary, look into audio equipment hire that will support your event requirements.

Be sure that your speaker system is good quality too. You want your award winners able to hear when their name is announced!

di equipment for award ceremonies

DJ Equipment

Award ceremonies are typically followed by a party or similar celebratory event. A good DJ with the right equipment will help your party go off without a hitch. Many DJs bring their own equipment with them but may need tech support or even full systems depending on your venue’s existing set up. 

You may also want music to flow through the ceremony portion of your event. For example, do you want music to play while your winners walk to the stage to collect their award? Separate equipment may be required for this, so speak to your venue or a professional audio-visual equipment supplier to find out exactly what you need.

Best Visual Equipment

Projector And Screens

While some award ceremonies don’t need visual equipment, others are enhanced by a presentation screen. For example, it can be useful to display the names of nominees and the winners on the screen as they’re announced. Equally, you may wish to showcase the work of the winners on-screen as their name is announced. Corporate events often use award ceremonies as an opportunity to talk about business updates too, so a projector screen may be an essential component of an internal awards event. 

Depending on the size of your event, you may choose to use a screen and projector for your visual equipment (these are usually ideal for mid to large scale events). For smaller ceremonies, an LED or plasma screen could work well. 

lighting equipment for award shhows

Lighting

Whether you want disco lighting for the dancefloor or spotlighting for the ceremony itself, lighting is an essential component of your award ceremony audio-visual equipment. These events usually use stage lighting to highlight the hosts and may even use special effects when winners are announced. Think about what you would like for your event and plan accordingly. 

Other Equipment Required

Staging

Some venues will have an inbuilt stage, but it’s worth bearing in mind that not all of them do – particularly those that are multi-purpose. Stage sections help to add a real sense of occasion to your award ceremony, so it may be worth investigating what other options are available if your venue doesn’t have a stage. It is possible to hire modular stages, which are particularly useful as they allow you to choose the stage size and layout to suit your event. 

Dancefloors

Need the perfect area for your award ceremony attendees to dance the night away? Look for a supplier that can offer temporary dancefloors for your event. These are particularly great for venues that don’t have a suitable dancefloor or to enlarge existing dancefloors

Audio Visual Equipment For Public Speaking Events

Conference stage set and lectern

Whether you’re hosting a company-wide business meeting or a large-scale lecture on your topic of expertise, public speaking events rely on audio-visual equipment for their success. After all, the focus of these events is on the speakers, so you will need all the right equipment to ensure that they can impart their information easily and professionally.

Best Audio Equipment

PA Systems

Your PA system will be the backbone of your event’s success. Think carefully about what you will need. How many guest speakers will you have? Will there be any spontaneous participation by the audience that will require extra microphones? Do you need the facilities to play video or audio from a laptop or other device? 

Whatever your requirements, be sure to speak to your venue in detail about the format of your public speaking event. If necessary, contact a third-party supplier to discuss audio-visual equipment extras that your venue can’t provide.

Best Visual Equipment

Projectors And Screens

Depending on the format of your event, you will likely require a projector and screen to display the visual portion of your speaker’s presentation. Your exact projector requirements will depend on the size of your event. For example, large scale occasions usually will need a high-quality projector and large screen to ensure that all attendees can see the content clearly.

LED / Plasma Screens

If you intend to host a smaller public speaking event, you may be able to utilise an LCD or plasma screen. These are easy to use and often better suited to smaller venues. If your venue does not have a screen like this, it is possible to hire LED or plasma screens for event purposes.

Other Equipment Required

Display Screens

For public speaking events, it is often helpful to have additional display screens in your venue. These can display content like information on your guest speakers, marketing material for your company or more information about the purpose of your event. 

These are often available to hire as panels, making them a functional and simple option for displaying key information.

Sets & Scenery

To create a professional public speaking event, think about adding sets and scenery help enhance the overall tone of your occasion. Staging panels or conference panels may be right for your event and are available to hire as ‘stock’ options or bespoke set ups. These can often work in conjunction with your audio-visual equipment, creating a seamless experience for your event attendees.

Whatever type of event you’re planning, your audio-visual equipment is essential for ensuring that your occasion runs as smoothly as possible. We hope that our guide to the best types of technology and equipment for different events has helped in your planning phase. If you’d like more advice or want to find out more about the types of audio-visual equipment we can provide you with, contact us for more information.

Whether you’re planning a large event or a more intimate gathering, every event planner knows that the key to success is in the details. From choosing the perfect venue, picking guest speakers and organising the very best catering, creating an event that runs smoothly isn’t always easy (particularly when you’re working within a budget).

We know that the unexpected can happen, whether on the day or during the preparation phases. Whether you’re an experienced event planner or are organising an occasion for the first time, it’s not always simple to know how to plan an event successfully. To help ensure that your event runs as smoothly as possible, we’ve put together some common event planning mistakes to avoid.

1. Plan your numbers

If you’re planning an open event, it can be tricky to know how to prepare successfully. Without knowing the exact numbers, it can become impossible to arrange your venue, catering and other equipment. Equally, without a venue or date, it’s difficult to market your event to potential attendees.

image of planning an event

If you’re wondering how to plan an event successfully in situations like this, it may be worth sending out placeholder marketing material to get an initial idea of numbers. Once you have gauged the level of interest, you can begin making concrete plans.

It’s also a good idea to be prepared to change your venue if the attendee numbers are higher or lower than expected.

2. Double (and triple) check the essentials

There are some aspects to your event that are essential and others that sit in the ‘nice to have’ camp. Your essentials, such as the venue, audiovisual equipment, and vendors, are must-haves for your event to go as planned.

It’s a good idea to keep track of exactly what has been agreed with your venue and vendors. Confirm details like arrival and set up times, quantities and costs. If appropriate, arrange to have contractual agreements in place to alleviate any potential mishaps. Keep in contact with your venue and vendors in the lead up to your event to ensure that things are progressing as you would expect.

It’s also a good idea to contact all suppliers a few days before the event to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

3. Factor in set-up time

If you’re wondering what not to do when planning an event, forgetting to allow enough set-up time should be near the top of your list. Some events require significant set-up time, particularly if there are décor changes, stalls or stages to prepare. Even smaller events will need some level of set-up, whether it’s to prepare the catering or to ensure that the audio-visual equipment is working as it should.

image of visual installation for an event

Once you’re sure of your requirements, try to estimate how long it will take you to prepare the venue. The venue itself may be able to provide some guidance from past events too. You may need to book your venue earlier than expected to provide enough preparation time before your guests arrive.

4. Check for other events nearby

If you’re hosting your event off-site, another thing to consider when planning an event is whether there are other events on nearby. There may be multiple conference rooms in your chosen venue, and neighbouring gatherings could impact yours (particularly if it’s likely that the neighbouring events are likely to be noisy).

checking events near you

Other events in the area, like sports matches or concerts, could have a bearing on local traffic, parking or public transport. It’s worth checking the calendar to see if these could make a difference to your conference or event. If necessary and possible, it may be a good idea to change your date.

5. Have a back-up plan

Not having a contingency plan in place is a common event planning mistake to avoid. Events and conferences are tricky things. Even with the best possible planning, things can go wrong on the day. That’s why it’s so important to have contingency plans in place, particularly for the event essentials, to ensure that your occasion can run as smoothly as possible.

For example, have you thought about what would happen if the venue has to cancel at the last minute? Or if the caters don’t turn up? Have you considered how bad weather or bad traffic could impact your event? It’s not easy to plan for these eventualities but having a back-up plan in place will help you deal with any crises on the day.

6. Ensure you have enough help

As an event planner, you can handle a lot of tasks and issues. From planning to problem-solving, your skills are in creating a memorable and successful event for your company or clients.

When thinking about how to plan an event successfully, it’s worth remembering that you can’t do everything. It’s simply not possible for you to register guests, set out the catering, serve food, organize the guest speakers, ensure that the audio-visual equipment is working and deal with any ad-hoc problems that occur on the day.

Having enough staff to assist you is an important thing to consider when planning an event. Identify areas where you’ll likely need extra assistance and be sure to book in your help well in advance.

7. Do a dry run with your clients

Whether you’re planning an event in-house or working with external clients, it’s important to do a dry run or walk-through with your bosses/clients in advance of your event.

Miscommunication or lack of clarity can be a significant problem that isn’t easily fixed at the last minute. By doing a walk-through of your event, you’ll be able to identify any potential areas that need to be clarified. Do a run through of the schedule, talk through menus and demonstrate seating plans to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

8. Test your tech

Failing to test your technology is at the top of the list of what not to do when planning an event. It will be a good idea to discuss your audio-visual requirements in detail with your venue to ensure that they know exactly what you need.

tech testing for event conference

It’s also a good idea to check what type of connections the venue has to ensure that they will work with your laptop or storage device. If necessary, make sure that you have the right adapters or cables and test your tech before the event.

It’s usually worthwhile to identify who will be in charge of sorting the technology on the day. This could be handled by the venue but it’s best to have someone on your team to help too.

9. Make a packing list

With events of all sizes and types, a packing list is a must when putting together all of the things to consider when planning an event. While your vendors and venue may be handling a lot of the work, there will still be plenty of things you need to bring with you to ensure that your event is as successful as possible.

image of making a list for event

It’s a good idea to make your packing list well in advance and add to it as you think of items to bring with you. Double check your list on the day to make sure you don’t forget anything. This is even more important for items like your laptop, presentations and promotional materials.

10. Ask for feedback

After the completion of your event, be sure to have feedback plans in place. Your attendees are likely to value the opportunity to let you know what they thought of your event.

This type of connection with your attendees will also help you understand if there are any other common event planning mistakes to avoid for your next occasion. Your attendees may be able to provide valuable feedback on what worked and what didn’t on the ground.

Asking for feedback also gives you the opportunity to promote your next event or ask attendees if they would like you to keep in touch with other related materials.

Whether the event you’re planning is large or more intimate, we hope that our tips on common event planning mistakes to avoid has helped in your preparation process. From planning your numbers to putting together a plan b, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your event runs as smoothly as possible. For more information on putting together the perfect conference or event, read more on the Mercian Events blog.

Further Reading

Choosing the right space for your conference isn’t always easy. From capacity and catering to audio and visual facilities, the best conference venues ensure that all your attendees are comfortable and that your presenters have all the equipment they need to speak with ease.

If you’re looking for Birmingham conference venues, the task can be even trickier. With over 50 venues to choose from, there are plenty of different options when looking for the perfect space for your event. To help you choose the right one for you, we’ve put together some of the best Birmingham conference venues below.

1. The Library of Birmingham – Centenary Square, Broad Street

A relatively new addition to the Birmingham skyline, the Library of Birmingham has become a much-loved landmark in the city centre. With unusual architecture and an impressive range of event options, this convenient conference venue is both flexible and state-of-the-art.

image of library of birmingham conference venue

The Library of Birmingham can cater for smaller meetings (from 20 people) to larger events (up to 800 people), making it a multi-purpose space for a wide variety of needs. There are plenty of room options too. Whether you’re looking for auditorium-style Birmingham conference venue or a unique room to make a statement, you’ll find a lot to choose from here.

Every room option offers the very best in audio-visual technology, and the venue can cater for a myriad of different needs. Prices range from £42 per person.

2. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens – Westbourne Road, Edgbaston

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens are one of the city’s favorite attractions. While thousands of people visit every year to enjoy this natural space, it can also be hired for Birmingham conferences and events.

This conference venue boats five event suites, which can host between 20 and 500 delegates. Each room is designed to be contemporary and stylish, making them a good choice for those looking for bright and airy Birmingham conference venues. Whether you’re looking for something grand or a space that’s a little more intimate, there’s plenty to choose from at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

In terms of audio and visual facilities, you can rest assured that your needs are catered for with LCD screens, high-speed Wi-Fi and PA systems. Prices start from £27 per person.

3. Highbury Hall  – Yew Tree Road, Moseley

If you’re searching for a historic space for your Birmingham conference or event, look no further than Highbury Hall in Moseley. Situated just outside of the city centre, this venue is easily accessed by both car and public transport.

Set within its own grounds, ensuring a peaceful event experience, Highbury Hall can accommodate up to 200 guests. There are a variety of room set-up options, from theatre to cabaret style, and you can take advantage of the many breakout areas if your event requires it.

All meeting and conference rooms at Highbury Hall offer Wi-Fi, PA systems and projector screens to ensure your event runs smoothly. Prices start from £26 per person.

4. Work + Play at Malmaison – Wharfside Street, City Centre

Looking for an upmarket conference venue in Birmingham? Look no further than the luxury Malmaison hotel located in The Mailbox.

With tasteful design and hints of eclectic style, this event space is ideal for those who wish to make a statement. There’s no need to compromise on technology either. Each room offers state-of-the-art audio and visual facilities, as well as high-speed Wi-Fi and in-house catering.

The real benefit of this Birmingham conference venue is its flexibility. Whether you need a smaller space or capacity for a large event, rooms can be merged or condensed as needed. Prices for this venue start from £65 per person.

5. Colmore Gate – Colmore Row, City Centre

Nestled in the heart of the city centre and a stone’s throw from Birmingham’s financial district, Colmore Gate is the ideal choice for those looking for a contemporary conference venue space.

Bright and airy, Colmore Gate offers plenty of options for a variety of different events. Whether you’re looking for a theatre-style set up or cabaret layout, there are two floors of meeting and events spaces here. You’ll find audio and visual equipment in many of the rooms, as well as Wi-Fi and in-house catering.

Prices start from £500 per day.

6. Bourneville College and Conference Centre – Longbridge Lane, Longbridge

For conferences and events outside of Birmingham city center, the Bourneville College and Conference Centre makes a good choice. This venue boasts 5 stylish function rooms with the option to host up to 450 delegates.

Space is ideal for a variety of different events thanks to its flexibility. Whatever type of layout or functionality you need, Bourneville College and Conference Centre is a blank canvas ready to be tailored to your event. Each function room boasts high-specification audio and visual equipment, as well as a professional kitchen for catering.

Prices start from £500 per day.

7. The Bierkeller – Broad Street, City Centre

No list of Birmingham venue hire options would be complete without a few out-of-the-box conference options. If you’re looking for something a little unique for your event, The Bierkeller on Broad Street offers an unusual space with plenty of functionality.

This venue can host up to 500 standing delegates or 260 seated attendees. If you choose this Birmingham conference venue, you’ll find state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment, as well as Wi-Fi and air conditioning. If your event stretches on to the evening, there are plenty of food and drink choices too.

Prices start from £15 per person.

8. The National Exhibition Centre – North Avenue, Marston Green

The NEC is a great option for Birmingham conferences and events. Ideally located next to Birmingham International train station and Birmingham Airport, this venue is easily accessed by both local and international attendees.

nec birmingham conference venues

While known for hosting large-scale events, the NEC has a wide variety of options for events of any size. Whether you’re looking for an intimate meeting room or an event for over 10,000 people, this space is a blank canvas that can be tailored to your exacting needs.

As with any venue of this size, you can expect excellent audio and visual technology, as well as on-hand support to ensure that your event runs smoothly.

Prices are available on request.

9. Millennium Point – Curzon Street, City Centre

Millennium Point is a multi-purpose Birmingham conference venue with plenty of flexible options for events of every type. Whether you’re looking for a large space for a traditional conference or a unique room for a more unusual event, there are 7 different spaces to choose from at this Birmingham conference venue.

This space can host up to 500 delegates and has an auditorium onsite that’s perfect for presenters or other stage-based events. You’ll also find meeting rooms, exhibition spaces and a hireable outdoor space.

Most event areas have high-tech audio-visual equipment, as well as Wi-Fi and presentation facilities. Prices start from £250 per day.

10. Ikon Gallery – Oozlles Square, Brindley Place

Conveniently located in the heart of Birmingham city center, Ikon Gallery is a stylish Birmingham conference venue. With contemporary spaces and plenty of natural light, this event venue can comfortably host up to 300 delegates.

This internationally acclaimed art gallery has all you could need for a stress-free event. Guests can enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi and organizers can rest assured that there are plenty of audio-visual options to ensure that things run smoothly. There are in-house catering options available, as well as the option to arrange for external catering.

Prices start from £125.

Whether you’re looking for a large space or Birmingham venue hire with a more intimate feel, there are plenty of options to choose from in the second city. With the majority of the country able to get to Birmingham in under 4 hours and international links through Birmingham Airport, this city is the ideal choice for a plethora of different events and conferences.

Stage Design Inspiration

When planning an event, stage design ideas need to be carefully considered to make sure that attendees are engaged and impressed by the presentation of proceedings.

To work out what stage designs will make the biggest impact, it makes sense to look at head-turning examples from the recent past. Here are just 8 stage designs for events that are still talked about today.

Xbox Press Conference Stage Design

Xbox Press Conference at E3 2018

Microsoft’s promotional efforts at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2018 were more focused and intensive than in many previous years. A huge number of new games were presented to a 6000-strong crowd of industry insiders and attention also turned to the Xbox One X, the world’s most powerful games console.

The stage design ideas leveraged to emphasise the importance of the conference were compartmentalised, angular and multi-layered. This contrasted completely with the sleek curves and aquatic blues of Sony’s rival PlayStation event.

The vast main display, rimmed with light bars and echoed with other impressive illumination effects to frame the stage, was able to draw the eye. Banks of smaller screens set up with row after row of Xbox One X consoles were also present onstage, with green underlighting contrasted against the pure white of the logos plastered liberally throughout.

Brit Awards Stage Design

Brit Awards 2017

While the Xbox press conference might have impressed some viewers, anyone who had watched the Brit Awards a year earlier might have noticed some interesting similarities in the stage design cues.

Angular lighting arrays, sporting liberal use of whites and some intriguing forced perspective techniques, defined the staging of the show in 2017. Display panels arranged in order to create a vanishing point effect helped to keep the eyes of the audience on the centre of the stage, making sure that stars like Ed Sheran were not dwarfed by the sheer scale of the venue itself.

mercedes safety car stage design

Mercedes Safety Car Launch 2010

First appearing at the Geneva Motor Show, German automaker Mercedes-Benz pulled back the curtains on its latest Formula One safety car in front of the world’s media with an event that put its design perks front and centre.

Staged on a wooden floor, the car itself was present and correct, its gull-wing doors open as if it was about to take flight. Sitting on a circular rotating platform, it was possible to pirouette the vehicle and give attendees a view of it from all angles.

As with the clever stage design ideas used at the Brit Awards, the architecture of the backdrop for this event was arranged to pull the eye of the observer downwards and inwards, towards the Mercedes-Benz spokesperson and the celebrity hosts. Simple blue and white lighting, along with a large format display and signage advertising the efficiency of the safety car, completed the classy, professional look.

up global stage design

UP Global

So far the stage designs discussed have occupied large arenas and conference centres, but innovation is still possible in smaller spaces, as evidenced by UP Global.

When space is limited, it makes sense to work laterally rather than deploying the depth of the stage. UP Global used a wide banner, emblazoned with a repeating design with green and teal arrows blended with photography, to emphasise its forward-thinking ethos and approachability.

The inclusion of a desk bearing its logo, alongside a separate area for speakers to stand and deliver their addresses, kept things simple yet made effective use of the area on offer.

the academy awards stage design

The Academy Awards 2010

Stewarded by David Rockwell, the stage design for the Oscars in 2010 was carefully pitched to harness the benefits of modern technologies while still harking back to the traditional origins of the event itself.

The arched aspect of the stage allowed for a glittering lighting installation to drip like a string of diamonds from the upper reaches, framing the host and presenters at the Academy Awards in a suitably glitzy fashion. Switching between icy blues and glamorous golds at the drop of a hat, this flexibility afforded a lot more variety than might otherwise be expected from such a well-established event.

In this instance, the designer also had to take into account how elements of his staging would be factored into other parts of the premises. The theme was kept consistent throughout the Kodak Theatre, ensuring that guests felt like they were going on a cohesive journey rather than walking straight in from an irrelevant exterior.

google io conference stage design

Google I/O Conference 2015

Once again working laterally, yet taking this to a level appropriate for one of the world’s largest companies, Google’s stage design for its 2015 I/O Conference wrapped right around the audience on three sides and was made up almost entirely of synchronised display panels.

The results were suitably impressive, with each screen able to showcase the speakers and the products they were discussing effectively so that observers in all parts of the room did not miss out on any key details.

Aesthetically, things were kept fairly simple, with no over the top lighting effects. Instead, the visuals focused on products and services in an unfussy way that was appropriate for the industry-oriented nature of the event itself. That does not detract from the fact that the A/V achievements of the conference were impressive in their own right, especially on a technical level.

paradox stage design

Paradox: The Art Of Technology

Bathed in blues, adorned with white-rimmed stairs and seemingly constructed from an amorphous framework of angled displays, the staging of Paradox: The Art Of Technology certainly managed to live up to the name of the event.

The stage itself was not elevated a significant degree above the seating area, meaning that it needed to have a healthy dose of ingenuity in its design to maintain the focus of the room. Including imagery focusing on circuitry as part of the background displays allowed organisers to reassert the event’s intentions without spelling it out overtly.

chevrolet stage design

Chevrolet Stage Design 2015

Once again sitting at the more compact end of the spectrum in terms of venue size, this event hosted by US car manufacturer Chevrolet over in Bali was a design triumph thanks to the way that the aesthetics of the staging were reflected throughout the room.

A central video screen was surrounded by a backdrop that made inventive use of the company’s logo, reflecting, refracting and dismantling it to impress observers and also keep their heads pointed towards the speaker’s podium in the middle.

Gold detailing on the stairs up to the stage was also echoed in the lighting of the room as well as the decorations applied to the chairs and tables that attendees occupied. Tying everything together in this way makes the most of any stage designs, allowing ideas to flourish and flow throughout the venue.

In this instance the staging also took into account an area for musicians, setting this off to the side and keeping drums and keyboards at a lower level than the rest of the presentation area. Such a setup is clearly desirable because it means that musical accompaniment can be provided life, without the players pulling focus. Balancing the audio of an arrangement like this creates its own challenges, but the stage design handled the aesthetic aspects appropriately.

Further Reading

Learning Public Speaking Techniques

Public speaking is a daunting prospect to many people, especially if your experience of expressing yourself in front of others is limited.

This is will be a particularly pertinent issue for anyone who is scheduled to speak at an important conference, or take on hosting duties at an event. You might feel incredibly exposed as you stand before an audience of assembled industry insiders, decision makers and trendsetters. As such it is sensible to learn the techniques that the pros use to conquer their nerves and make their voices heard.

Here are just a few of the top pieces of advice that public speaking experts have to offer on their chosen profession, each of which can help you whether you are addressing colleagues in a presentation, giving an address at an event, commanding the room at a conference or attempting to capture new clients in any business setting.

Practice Is Important

The most obvious and oft-repeated guidance relating to public speaking is also the most effective. The better prepared you are for your performance, the less anxious you will become.

Being well rehearsed is even more important if your speech is accompanied by multimedia elements or involves other factors which you need to control at the same time as maintaining the audience’s attention with your words.

Practice on your own, practice in front of a partner, perhaps even attend a public speaking workshop if one is offered in your area.

Communications experts recommend a rigorous approach to public speaking preparation, both for practical purposes and to combat nerves.

Acclaimed American public speaker Dale Carnegie described the process succinctly, saying: “There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practised, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave”.

In short, it is better to practice as comprehensively as possible, rather than live to regret it for the rest of your life.

Take Stock As You Start

The temptation to start speaking and power through your time in the spotlight will be great. However, if you watch any of the leading speakers work today, you will notice that they never dive right in.

Author Frances Rodman once said “The problem with speeches isn’t so much not knowing when to stop, as knowing when not to begin”. When you get up to start speaking, it is a good idea to pause, gather your thoughts, make sure you have everything you need to do your best and only continue when you have taken a few deep breaths.

The Audience Matters

controlling the audience when public speaking

Writing a speech can be a relatively solitary pursuit, but it pays to remember that this is not just a process of creating something for yourself; it needs to be framed with the target audience in mind.

Achieving this effect may not be possible from your first attempt, which is why editing a speech before it is given should not be overlooked. The language should be appropriate, for example; using jargon and technical terms in front of an audience that has no grasp of the words you are using is a bad idea.

Author Joseph Conrad covered this when he said ““He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word”. That is not to say that your points should not be carefully considered, but rather that it is the way you express them that matters more.

Brevity Is A Benefit

In everyday conversations where you are thinking on your feet and improvising most of what you say, it is acceptable to ramble, repeat yourself and take a little time to come to the point of what you are trying to convey. The same is not true of public speaking, yet many people make the mistake of over-writing their speeches and talking for much longer than is necessary.

Ira Hayes went down in history not just for being a war hero, but also for once saying “No one ever complains about a speech being too short”. This applies perfectly in this case, revealing that it is better to be brief than to pack in as much detail as possible.

That is not to say that you should trim down your speech to the point that it lacks interest or flare. Instead you need to stick within the allotted time, aim to be concise and resist the urge to expand on points that have already been adequately explored.

Pace Yourself

The delivery of a speech relies on lots of little techniques in its own right. One aspect the great speakers agree on is that it is better to take your time and be measured, rather than rushing through, squashing sentences together and barely pausing for breath.

Author and wit Mark Twain had a lot to say on a variety of topics, but on public speaking his most pertinent point comes into play here. “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

Humour Helps

public speaking tips for a conference

If you are worried that the audience’s attention will wander during your speech, adding regular bursts of humour throughout will keep them engaged.

This is all part of the tapestry you create when you speak publicly, as outlined by journalist Peggy Noonan, who said “A speech is poetry: cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep! A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart”.

Dullness and disengagement can be combatted through humour, but it should not be the centrepiece of the entire speech. Sparing, well-timed and appropriate use of jokes will work best.

Structure Is Essential

public speaking advice

A speech needs to tell a story, if not explicitly then at least structurally. Start with the main point you want to make, expand upon it in the middle and conclude with a satisfying resolution. An audience will not just respond well to this approach, they will expect it innately.

Leadership expert Patricia Fripp summed this up when she said The first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds have the most impact in a presentation”. This applies to all public speaking; as long as you have the right framework in place, the rest of the building blocks should fall into place more easily.

Use Your Body

In public speaking, your mouth is not the only part of your body that will be doing the talking. Communication comes from how you hold yourself and how you use your physical presence.

Your hands are the key; too much movement will make you look nervous, none whatsoever will make you seem terrified and wooden.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson has a recommendation relating to movement in public speaking. He said “Picture yourself in a living room having a chat with your friends. You would be relaxed and comfortable talking to them; the same applies when public speaking”.

Review Your Performance

public speaking help

Sports stars watch back footage of past games to learn from their mistakes and make improvements. The same can be applied to public speaking.

Whether you record your practice sessions on your smartphone or get a colleague to do the same at a real event, you can learn so much from 30 seconds of footage.

Public Speaking Is Not Public Reading

While extensive notes are helpful during preparation, it is better to give a speech without having an entire script with you. This will draw your attention from the audience and you may become too attached to it to look up and engage them directly.

As you practice, reduce the level of detail in your notes and move towards using little more than a bare bones structural overview. This will let you make more eye contact and be more effective as an orator while still giving you something to fall back on if you lose your place.

Read The Room

reading the room when public speaking

While speaking in public, it may feel like the world shrinks until there is only you, the mic and your notes. The best speakers remain aware of their surroundings and pay attention to the ebb and flow of the audience’s reaction to what they are saying.

Poet and theologian Frederick Buechner opined that after giving a speech to an audience “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. This feeling towards you will be greatly impacted by how well you respond to the audience’s own feedback in the moment.

Avoid Relying On Technology

PowerPoint and similar slideshow software solutions have swamped public speaking in the past two decades. However, using such tools as a starting point for a speech is seen as a bad idea by some industry stalwarts.

TED Talks advisor Nancy Duarte said “Presentation tools force you to think through information linearly, and you really need to start by thinking of the whole instead of the individual lines”.

Similarly, you should avoid overstuffing slides that you do use with text. This will distract the audience’s attention, so be sparing and let your words take centre stage instead.

Warm Up

Movies and TV shows may poke fun at the positive thinking pep talks that people use before speaking in public to gee themselves up, but they really work.

The simple act of telling yourself that you are going to nail a speech will have an uplifting impact on your performance. Whether you execute this mantra out loud in a bathroom mirror, or silently in your own head, reinforcing your self-worth just before you are the centre of attention is an excellent strategy.

Be Proactive

No matter how well pitched and carefully tuned a speech might be, it could still fall flat if the message is passive. Rather than skirting around making definitive assertions and solid statements of intent, embrace them.

This has been demonstrated effectively in a number of the most memorable and oft-quoted political speeches of the past century. Winston Churchill did not say “Perhaps we will be forced to fight on the beaches” – he made clear his intent and invigorated an entire nation as a result.

Use The Rule Of Three

The number three has a special power over people, for whatever evolutionary or intellectual reason. This can be used in public speaking to make sure that the most important aspect of your argument is unforgettable.

Public speaking specialist John Maxwell said “The first time you say something, it’s heard; the second time, it’s recognized; the third time, it’s learned”. This is a valuable lesson in its own right and one which applies to all forms of communication.

Accept Nervousness As Inevitable

This is the one thing that all experienced public speakers will appreciate. It is impossible to eliminate anxiety around having to stand up and use your voice in front of an audience. The worst thing you can do in this situation is try to fight your nerves; the best thing you can do is learn to control and channel them.

By mastering the techniques covered above, you should have a better chance of keeping your nervousness in check and delivering

Let’s Summarise

These are the most impactful techniques to help improve your public speaking skills for business conferences and events. Experts recommend that you are thoroughly rehearsed, engaged with the room, precise with your language, concise with your points, well-paced with your delivery, not reliant on your notes, willing to accept feedback and in control of your nerves.

Planning and executing a successful conference event is a challenge, even for experienced organisers. From the venue choice to the selection of conference event equipment, there are many details to iron out and tight deadlines to hit.

In order to overcome a lot of these obstacles, you need to set out a clear roadmap at the very start and follow it to the letter. Here is an all-purpose outline of what is involved in successful conference production to get you started.

Define Your Goals & Objectives

 

It’s impossible to measure the success of a conference event if you don’t lay out in advance the goals you want to achieve. There are lots of potential objectives to formalise ahead of time, so it makes sense to try and define as many as possible at the very beginning of the planning process.

Specifying the purpose of the event is a major factor, but the really juicy metrics will be drawn from things like anticipated levels of attendance, profit margins, cost of entry and other factors to which a numerical value can be assigned.

Depending on the nature of the conference, you may want to expand the parameters of specific objectives. For example, if people will be able to attend remotely by watching live footage over an internet connection, you need to decide whether these figures should be included alongside those who attended in person.

Outline Your Budget

planning a budget for your conference

 

Anyone who has been responsible for planning a conference in the past will have an idea of how to handle the budgeting of an upcoming event. If you are a rookie, it makes sense to look at typical spending associated with running events of a similar size and scope to what you hope to achieve. In both cases, having clear objectives to refer to comes in handy.

Event spending is still growing in the US, so clearly there is a little more flexibility when it comes to budgeting. However, it is important to avoid being complacent. Instead, try to remain realistic about costs, especially those that cannot be avoided or minimised.

The most important budgetary factors fall into four key categories; venue hire, accommodation, transport and catering. Each will offer a little leeway and the opportunity to save or splash out, according to your needs.

Also take into account the two other factors that will make or break your event’s budget; guest speaker fees and the marketing of the conference itself.

In terms of paying for guest speakers, remember that the fee may be in addition to other expenses, such as travel and accommodation. While some politicians make millions from speaking engagements, industry experts can be far more affordable and arguably provide more valuable insights.

Identify A Venue

planning an event and choosing the right venue

 

The first requirement that a prospective conference venue must meet relates to its location; remember that its affordability and availability will be irrelevant if attendees can’t easily reach it.

The geographic position of the venue should be considered hand in hand with the transport links offered by the area. Convenience is key to convincing people to turn up. You need to steer clear of the ‘if you build it, they will come’ mantra, because it never works in practice.

The size of the venue will be central to its suitability. If it is too small for your anticipated attendance figures, frustration and overcrowding will be inevitable. If it is too large, it might look poorly attended even if you hit your original targets.

Finally, the availability of vendors in the vicinity of the venue will come into play. You need to make sure that there are enough suitable firms nearby to meet the needs of your conference event objectives. Outsourcing to vendors from other regions because there is not local availability can play havoc with your budget.

Pick A Date

picking a date for conference production

 

Although it sounds simple, the act of deciding on a date for your conference event can be the steepest mountain you need to climb to make it a success.

It pays to have not one, but two suitable dates on the cards during the early stages of the planning phase. Bookings can encounter issues and other unexpected problems can arise, which makes it important to put a backup plan in place.

To pick a date you will also need to consider the time of year, the potential for other events to limit levels of attendance and the relevance of this period within the industry in question. Summer and winter are generally a no-go for larger conferences, for example, because of vacation clashes and disruptive weather conditions respectively.

Formulate Invites

 

Inviting respected individuals to your conference will give it a lot of clout in advance and help convince others to commit to attending, rather than sitting on the fence or bailing out.

Researching your guest speakers will be immensely important at this point because you want to find the best people for the job. You also need to avoid wasting your own time by courting a speaker who simply isn’t going add meaningful, measurable value to the event. Being well informed and meticulous will help on both counts.

With a thoroughly researched list of prospects to hand, you should decide on the initial offer that will be presented to them to entice them in. Base this not just on your budget, but on your expectations of their fee according to their involvement in past conferences. You don’t want to wildly miss the mark with an offer and cause embarrassment or offence.

Only when all this is in hand will the time come to actually contact your desired guests with a well-formatted invitation. Rushing this step can lead to a lot of declined invites, so avoid the temptation and take your time.

Search For Sponsors

 

Sponsors can bear the brunt of a steep conference event budget and like guest speakers, they need to be carefully selected and intelligently approached.

First and foremost you need to demonstrate that your event offers value to potential sponsors, which can be done by outlining the activations that will apply once the conference kicks off. This will show that you understand the need for an active approach to getting attendees engaged with their brand. It will also indicate that you have considered how to execute this, rather than expecting them to do all the heavy lifting once they have signed on the dotted line.

Selecting sponsors should be straightforward in theory; choose brands that are both relevant to the event and have a track record of providing support to equivalent conferences in the past. This will let you know that approaching them is worthwhile.

Valuing your sponsorship packages and making sure that they are in line with market expectations is equally vital. This will simplify the procurement of the main sponsor or a series of sponsors. The only hitch is that a lot of number-wrangling is required to get your pitch on point.

Select Audio Equipment

When it comes to conference production, the audio experience is perhaps the most prominent lynchpin to prioritise. Skimping on conference event equipment could leave attendees straining their ears to hear and render speakers effectively speechless if they are improperly amplified.

The audio equipment needs to be suited to the venue, as well as to the audience. The type of content being showcased will also be relevant; a solution which is set up solely for a spoken public address may not be ideal if the music is also played, for example.

Some venues will handle audio themselves, although seeking the support of a dedicated conference production AV production company is sensible at this point.

Choose Visual Equipment

Guest speakers and vendors may not be satisfied with a simple audio-only setup. Indeed the expectations of event attendees will typically be that there will be some visual element to proceedings. Even if you want to present nothing more than a handful of slideshows, it is not sensible to overlook the visual conference event equipment when organising everything.

There are several points to consider. Will you need projectors, modular screens or some other form of eye-catching AV equipment? Will the size of the displays be adequate to ensure all attendees in the room are able to clearly see the content? Will you require camera operators, editors and other specialists to get involved in the production in real time on the day, or can all AV elements be fully prepared in advance?

Decide On Lighting Equipment

A well-lit venue can make a conference seem more inviting, engaging and successful. Conversely, a lack of planning in this area might leave the event feeling dingy and will take the dynamism out of even the most expertly crafted keynote address.

Lighting should ideally go hand in hand with other aspects of conference event equipment; it is all part of a cohesive, impactful AV experience. While you could look at different firms to provide this, it makes more sense, from a budgetary and organisational perspective, to allow a single production company to take the reins.

Promote Your Event

This is where your marketing machine should really whir into action because the best-organised event in the world will fall at the first hurdle if no one knows about it ahead of time.

In the past, the options for advertising a conference were somewhat limited. Thankfully the age of the internet has made it far easier to target specific audiences with promotional materials, building momentum and interest well in advance.

Social media can be especially influential in this area today, with campaigns run across a variety of platforms helping to raise awareness and boost engagement. Part of the advantage it offers is that multimedia content relating to the conference can easily be seen and shared.

Video, in particular, is a powerful tool in the fight to get your event noticed, generating 12 times as many shares as either text or image-based posts alone. This might compel you to commission the creation of a clip that outlines the benefits of your conference to potential attendees, which can be more affordable than you might think.

In addition to a minutely tailored social campaign, you will want to build a website for your conference. This is especially sensible if you are planning to make it an annually recurring event.

Modern websites of all types need to be just as easy to use on mobile devices as they are on desktops and laptops, as smartphones have now been the dominant web browsing option for years. Updating the site regularly with blog posts about your event is also worthwhile. You can announce sponsors and guests as they are confirmed, provide updates and keep attendees informed so they know what to expect on arrival.

Most important of all your conference event planning efforts need to start as early as possible and follow a schedule which avoids the likelihood of delays occurring.

Click Here To Download Our Complete Organising A Successful Conference Roadmap 

 

merican events roadmap for a successful conference

 

Mercian Events
Blog Content June 2018

Top AV tips that will make your meetings a hit

Hosting your own meeting can be a nerve-racking experience. Stepping up to a microphone to hear feedback or see an unresponsive presentation screen can be anyone’s worst nightmare. To ensure everything runs smoothly, it’s essential to check that all of your equipment is in place and working as it should be well in advance of any delegates arriving at the venue.

There are plenty of industry hints and tricks that will ensure your event is a great success. As AV and Technical support specialists, Mercian Events have compiled some top tips to ensure your event will run without a hiccup:

 

Prepare a Plan

It’s vital that you know the room dimensions of where your meetings will be held and are aware of the number of people who will be attending. This will give you an indication to the size of the screen(s) you’ll need and whether you’ll require those extra seats near the back.

 

 

 

On-Site Arrangements

on site arrangementsLiaising with the venue well before the event is a necessity. It is best to do this at the actual venue with a face to face meeting with a member of the venue’s Meetings and Events team, well in advance of the event date. If they are not made aware of what you’ll need for the day, they won’t be able to prepare for you or make prior arrangements for any AV equipment or catering. In brief, if they’re unaware of your requirements, your prep time will be massively reduced as you’ll be forced to make last-minute arrangements which could prove to be very expensive.

 

 

 

Sound Systems

Small meetings of less than fifty delegates may or may not require some sort of sound re-enforcement, always check with your AV supplier first.

For small meetings a two-speaker sound system with a single microphone is adequate. However, if you require more than one microphone, we advise for you to discuss this with your AV supplier, as the use of a microphone mixer will be necessary. This is where many companies get into trouble and may need the services of an AV technician to operate the audio system on their behalf.

For a larger meeting if may be necessary to use a four or six-speaker sound system.

Small and large sound systems do require to be set up by experts, some venue support teams are not trained to do this and do not attempt to do this on your own, use the expertise of your AV supplier.

The use of hand-held and tie-clip radio microphones is again something to discuss with your AV supplier. Speaking from a lectern is normally carried out with either a twin or single lectern microphone, these mics are specially mounted on the lectern to avoid any annoying noises.

 

If your presenter is a free spirit and likes to roam around the stage whilst talking and wants to have their hands free then they need to use either a tie-clip mic or a mic headset. These points need to be known well in advance of the event.

Another wireless tip is to ensure that WIFI is available for every delegate – this means they can network, send emails and tweet about your event in real-time.

Get to Know Equipment

Many meetings and conferences begin late because of a fault with a laptop or as sometimes happens the presenter has forgotten to turn off the screen saver. If you want to keep things running smoothly, make sure everything is working well before the event starts and familiarise yourself with how the tech works. A smooth start will set the tone for the rest of the day. If you are in doubt of your available AV expertise within your team then pay the extra and let an experienced AV technician do all the operating, this will allow you to concentrate on the meeting and other important issues that these events inevitably bring with them.

 

Sight plus Sound

Good Data projection is vital, if delegates cannot read or understand what is being shown to them then they might just as well not be at the meeting. Similar to sound systems, if delegates cannot hear what is being said, why be there.

The visibility of the screen and its brightness is more important than you think. If it’s not up to scratch in terms of height and size, then you are making it very difficult for all the delegates, as everyone needs to see and hear clearly. Again check with your AV supplier what lumen projector(s) to use as they come in all shapes and sizes – some are suitable for a breakout room but useless in a large meeting room that has plenty of ambient light. Others are ideal for conference use but expensive for use in a meeting room.

Get all these points right and it can be the difference between your event falling flat or being a memorable day for all the right reasons.

If you’re worried about the AV aspects of your meeting, Mercian Events are here to help. We provide top-quality equipment for hire and offer a valuable AV installation service. For more information, get in touch today by calling us on 01905 726 665 or email info@mercianevents.com