With events primarily taking place from the comfort of people’s homes, the power of our five senses has shifted. It used to be an event producer’s passion to ignite all the senses in calculated ways, at specific times, to entice memory or create action. While we’ll get back to a new version of that eventually, for now we have the digital realm from which to work to deliver content. Because of this, the sense of hearing is among the most engaged in virtual events and it’s so critical to get it right.
From the dawn of surround sound home theatres to the new phenomenon of Dolby noise reduction, advancements in audio technology have made the world of audio richer. That said, the pandemic has brought about a new demand for sharper, clearer, spot-on audio production in virtual environments. Gone are the days when a less experienced audiovisual (AV) company can ‘middle’ the audio in order to provide a full turnkey event production for a client, if they don’t have the chops. Today, in live virtual events, bad audio can’t be hidden.
If you want to up your audio game, these five top-line tips for in-house event teams or brand managers will help you leverage the virtual experiences in your events portfolio this year.
1. Engage event strategists/producers to support you in building out the right plan that not only fits your objectives but gives you top-quality production.
2. Partner with a premium event AV company that specializes in broadcast technology and producing content for television experiences, and invests in quality production equipment, virtual platforms and teams as it is incredibly hard to recover from poor tech quality in an event.
3. Turn off items that contribute to ambient noise like fans, air conditioners, HVAC units, vending machines (if not at home) and hand dryers (if hosting near a washroom), and ensure all back of house team members wear soft soled shoes.
4. Split your event team into two. One crew is responsible for monitoring the live stream broadcast constantly for audio quality and overall experience, while the other is dedicated to producing the virtual experience as a whole.
5. Design an inclusive event experience to ensure hearing impaired, hard of hearing and deaf guests can engage as well. Invest in closed captioning technology for all pre-recorded videos and sign language interpreters for live virtual content. Also, consider leveraging virtual platforms that have built in accessibility features like font customization, closed intuitive navigation and subtitles.
After a year of mainly virtual-only events, attendees are more discerning and less forgiving when it comes to a negative experience, particularly if they can’t hear the content. Higher (and smarter) spend now will pay off in spades down the road.
Lisa Marks is owner of Brand Alive Inc., a corporate event strategy and planning company in Canada that she founded in 2018 to help world-class brands build human culture through strategic experiences. Lisa is an award-winning global event industry leader and champion, with more than 13 years’ experience in the events industry. Most of her career was spent brand-side as head of events at Shaw Communications, where she built a multimillion dollar portfolio, modernizing and amplifying the culture of Shaw. She presently sits on the board of governors for the International Live Events Association and is chair of the Mealshare Aid Foundation. Lisa can be reached at [email protected].