The Importance of Event Suppliers

Posted: Aug 8, 2011 by in Blog, Corporate Events

Don’t worry. This is not a self-promoting post about why you should hire me as a team building supplier, (although I wouldn’t mind!) This is about the importance of making sure every link in your event planning chain is solid, dependable and ideally stupendous.

Last week I provided a keynote session for over seven hundred people. I know from experience that audio-visual can make or break my presentations and performances so I take my pre-production planning very seriously. I did my due diligence and emailed directly to the in-house hotel AV supplier that my client had engaged. I followed up my written production requirements with a phone call and I was assured that our specific needs and challenges would be addressed, to include four headset microphones and four wireless hand held microphones.

Sound-check: Only one headset microphone and not a functioning one. But hey, I’m easy to work with so I suggested that if they could get one lavaliere microphone I’d be fine with that and the four hand held wireless mics. So we sound checked with that equipment and at the end of soundcheck the AV tech said they had found one headset mic that worked properly so we switched to that.

Presentation: I came on stage wearing the headset microphone and I began to speak. Snap, crackle, pop…bzzzzz…rinngggg. So I did what any good speaker would do. I started laughing, keeping it entertaining and removed the headset microphone now dangling from the back of my shirt. I said to the audience, “Good thing we’ve got these other vocal microphones on stage. I’ll just use the microphone here in front of my piano.” I then reached over to slightly adjust the boom-arm of the microphone stand. As soon as I touched it, it fell off. Yes – fell right off the stand onto the ground. The audience laughed with me. I asked the AV tech to come fix the stand and he did. He then walked away and I began to adjust it again. Yes – it fell to the ground again. AV tech comes back, and I coached him on the proper way to screw an arm onto a boom stand, in front of over seven hundred people.

The Ending: The story ends well. We turned what could have been some tense moments into some good laugh moments and the audience stayed relaxed because I stayed relaxed. We went on with the show and the audience participation part of the show was great. BUT – I never had the opportunity to deliver my ten minute keynote introduction as promised. I did deliver a five minute AV fiasco instead and then we went right into audience participation. The keynote moment had been lost!

The Conclusion: You only have one special event. That’s why it’s called a ‘special’ event. Every link in the chain is vital. Don’t rely on suppliers who are not vested in performing for you, who don’t have to earn your business or your trust. Take the extra step and make sure every supplier you use cares about you.


6 Responses to “The Importance of Event Suppliers”

  1. Midori, Chief AVGirl

    Wow, what a hilarious story. The really sad part, though, is that your client might have suffered a much worse state of affairs had he/she been dealing with a high-profile celebrity or dignitary…or even his or her boss. What frustrates me most about this story is not that the accident happened, because it’s technology. Rather, it’s the lack of professionalism and preparedness – there’s no excuse for that. I can never emphasize enough how much better the quality is when you get to work with your own AV crew whose livelihood depends on your event. When dealing with in-house crews, the chances are that you will never be in that property again…so if it’s not perfect it’s no big deal. Thr paycheck still arrives at the end of the month and the next client still is roped into using their services thanks to corkage fees or other sticky methods. I could never imagine how terrible it would be to have to work with a client who was mine under duress ūüôā
    Great post Billy, glad you found the high points of a pretty sad story.
    Midori Connolly

    • Billy Kirsch

      Thanks for the thoughts Midori. I dream of getting to the point where I can request that client use my preferred AV provider. And I hope that day comes!

  2. Robert Grossman

    Oh Billy, I feel your pain! Midori is 100% correct in her comment. But it is not only in-house AV companies that can be bad! Having a team who is committed to success, who understands what’s at stake for their client. I attended a big event where I lost the gig. My client hired someone who was less expensive. There was a panel of high profile people on stage and one of the wireless lavs failed. Okay that happens, but what happen next was unbelievable. The A2 or a tech came out on stage with over a 1000 people in the audience and rather than giving the poor man a hand held mic, proceeded to unbutton his shirt, remove the broken mic and give him a new one – in front of the entire audience. And if that was not bad enough, they had a camera on him with this fiasco projected a two huge screens!

    Billy, good on you to make the best out of the situation and laugh with the audience.

    Lesson – hire pros. Hire people who really care and whose livelihood depends on success each and every time.

  3. Brandt Krueger

    What she said.

    Also, I think it shows that one of the biggest keys to surviving a technical breakdown is grace under pressure. Even with the most invested crew, even with my most trusted suppliers, things can and do go wrong. How the speaker handles it, and how we handle it back at the tech table or behind the curtain can make all the difference in the world- and frequently makes a difference as to whether you’ll get the gig next year.

  4. Billy Kirsch

    Robert; thanks for the comments. I agree that having a team committed to a client’s success is the most important predictor of reliable service.

  5. Billy Kirsch

    Brandt, thanks for the comments. Grace under pressure is vital, and that really comes from experiencing a lot so the unexpected is expected!