How to Work With an Event Producer

As meeting planners, you fill an important gap between a client and an event. That gap can be large or small, depending on the size and scope of the meeting. There is a similar gap between a client and audiovisual, yet there is often a perception that AV just gets done, without thinking about the key liaisons helping make it happen. However, AV doesn’t just get done any more than catering gets done simply because you requested food service. It takes planning, coordination and thoughtful execution. Enter the event producer. Like a meeting planner, am event producer’s role can be big or small, depending on the event. A producer can be from within the ranks or a hired gun. Whoever the producer or production team is, they have an important job to fill: determine the needs of the client, plan the sessions, coordinate the providers and execute what needs to happen. Sounds straightforward, yet all too often this role is completely missing or has been delegated to an assistant or someone completely unprepared and unskilled at handling this responsibility. A dedicated producer helps define the purpose of an event. A product launch is much different than an educational or training seminar and will have much different technical needs. A clear purpose will also help determine an appropriate budget. Next, the event production needs to be planned. This includes scheduling sessions, coordinating and hiring talent and determining their technical needs, creating session walk sheets and minute-by-minute rundowns (see sidebar), and setting rehearsal schedules, sound checks and AV checks. In addition to a producer, an AV contractor also needs to be hired and brought into the process. A producer works with an AV contractor to  determine the technical needs and labor requirements.A producer is also responsible for executing the event production. That means keeping things on time and on budget while ensuring good quality and effectiveness. Often this means running the sessions and calling cues. And if that’s not enough, there is a constant dance going on where the client, the talent, the AV provider and the facility all want to cut in. Planners should have someone in charge of AV similar to the way they’re in charge of meeting planning. Don’t assume AV needs will be handled because an AV company has been hired. They bring the gear and technicians and sometimes event management, but there are logistics that still must be worked out. It shouldn’t be up to your AV team to track down your talent’s technical needs or set rehearsal schedules any more than a caterer should have to find out what your attendees would like to eat and when. Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 4.05.18 PMIf you have a big event, consider hiring a qualified producer and do so early in the planning stages. A producer can help bring some outside perspective to the table and offer ideas you might not have considered. Be prepared to discuss key topics such as the purpose of the event and what you want to achieve, the budget you have in mind, the schedule, the venue and the people who will have any input in the AV. Also, be prepared for some give and take. To accomplish your goals, a producer sometimes needs to bring unpleasant realities to light, not just to vendors and talent but to the client as well. If you have a smaller event and want to keep said responsibilities in-house, assign them to someone who understands what needs to be done. There is no downside to being prepared with your AV and its inherent logistics.