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10 tips to happier corporate AV clients & less comped jobs

by Lonnie Bedell

Before AVLifesavers, I did plenty of FOH for corporate clients all over Boston. You won't get a second chance with them. Even if it is entirely their fault, you won't be back. I've even seen a client go away all smiles, then demand part of the job comped 3 weeks later. Best to stay one step ahead of them.

1) Never let corporate presenters switch their own mics on

They won't 90% of the time & will blame you 100% of the time. Everybody knows the bathroom scene from "The Naked Gun" movie. Some may wish to postpone getting a mic until the last second. So be it. Either powerlock them on or just use gaff tape. The only real exception is an informal training session with the presenter wandering around the tables on a lav mic.

2) Never let a presenter put a lav mic by themselves

I've seen them put everywhere but their shoes, and they think a mic within 8 feet of their mouth is close enough. The whole concept of closer = louder is lost on the general public.

3) Be very careful when asking for a meeting agenda

Of course you need it to plan wireless mics, but if that client doesn't have one they will be infuriated by you asking for it because it makes them look foolish. If I don't see one around, I ask in general terms "who is going to be speaking & in what order". If they have an agenda, they will give it to you. Otherwise be prepared to write down their answers & make your own.

4) Instruct Question & Answer mic volunteers to hold it close to the person's mouth

Again, virtually nobody gets that closer to the mic is louder, and it will absolutely be your fault. Q&A mic runners also love to hang out near speaker stands, i.e. the worst possible place!

5) Change wireless batteries at 4 hours

You'll lose a whole lot more in comped jobs than the batteries cost. Shure has a decent rechargeable pack now as an alternative option. Ordinary AA rechargeables don't work well as they are 1.2 volts, not 1.5 volts, so you don't start out at full voltage.

6) A frequent source of confusion is when to roll videos

Presenters think you'll know when to roll it because THEY know when to roll it. Client at the tech table get all wishy washy & won't commit to anything. The results are frequently unprofessional looking. Figure out a definitive way ahead of time to have them cue you when to roll it, with ZERO chance of misinterpretation.

7) Get all the audio details

Audio feeds to video crews, imbedded ppt videos with sound, walk-in/out music, music during breaks, etc. Besides reducing awkward last minute surprises (that have now become impossible due to time constraints), asking ahead of time also brings up opportunities to rent more gear & add more tech crew. Ask again at the jobsite as there are many intermediaries in corporate work, and most are non-technical. The best info is from the person on site.

8) Food is always a touchy subject

One person can offer it, and another sees you eating & complains. I've seen a tech cancelled for day 2 because they tried to get a cup of coffee. Just tried. Being that you never know the pecking order of the people there, it is always wisest for techs to buy their own food.

9) Leave the podium mic on during breaks

Presenters/MC can move from the other end of the room to the podium in less than the blink of an eye. Don't ask me how they do it, but if the podium mic makes sound, neither you nor the client look foolish.

10) Put the lav mic beltpack in the inner pocket or belt in the front.

The reason is otherwise the signal has to go through the person's body, since radio signals are line of sight. Just one more thing to cause dropouts & client complaints.

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About the Owner
photo of Lonnie Bedell of AVlifesavers.com My name is Lonnie Bedell, and I'm the guy behind AVLifesavers. Unlike big companies, I've been doing actual live sound work since 1995, and live recordings since 1985.
It's that kind of real world experience that I feel makes AVLifesavers stand out. It's one thing to examine problems theoretically, it's a whole different thing to deal with frantic last minute changes from an inexperienced client who wants it done yesterday.

Been there, done that, so I've designed products to solve live sound problem fast.

All products are assembled right here in the USA. Living Wages to American workers is and will always be part of the fabric here, despite the temptations.

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