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Audiovisual Requirements List: What It Is and Why You Need It

When you first start out on the speaking circuit, the world of audiovisual requirements can seem a bit overwhelming. You’ve got your ticket booked, your presentation is finalized, and you’ve practiced your face off in the mirror for hours on end. Now, wouldn’t it be a shame to show up and find out that no one can hear your quips past the third row? Or that your computer is not compatible with the onsite equipment?

Audiovisual quality has the power to make or break your speaking engagement, no matter how great you are and how much practice you put into your speech. It’s the very top thing that will impact your performance, hands down.

Thus, it makes perfect sense that you would want to nail down your AV needs and ensure that you are fully prepared long before you take the stage. Communicating with your booked groups is essential and an AV list will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Creating Your AV List

An AV list is essentially a list of requirements you have as a speaker to ensure your presentation is a success. It is a great way to communicate your expectations for the speaking engagement in every stage, from the initial proposal to the final prep in days leading up to the event. It’s also worth uploading it to your website for prospects to access before inquiring, as well as booked groups who may need a refresher.

As for things to include, you will want to be certain to confirm:

  • What software you plan on using to present (i.e. Keynote, PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.)
  • The type of computer you will bring and the ports it has
  • Any adapters that you will be bringing to use with your computer
  • Your microphone preference (i.e. wireless lavaliere, handheld mic, or stationed podium)
  • WiFi and sound requirements (consider whether you will include videos)

You should outline your room setup requirements as well. Classroom style during a daytime event tends to be preferred, but if the group uses round tables (which are common for evening presentations), see if they are willing to do a crescent round set, so no one has to turn their back to the screen. If you plan on taking questions from the group or having live interactions, be sure to request a second microphone that can be passed around or on a stand at the front.

You will also want to get early notice about the presentation requirements. The two main sizes are 4:3 and 16:9, which will depend on the size of the screen. Request this information early on so you can format your presentation file accordingly.

Your list should also require an AV technician for your session, who can moderate the sound and presentation in case anything goes wrong. Ideally, you would meet with them at least 30-60 minutes before you take the stage to confirm all of the details and prepare you for the spotlight.

Your Packing List

While the majority of audiovisual equipment should be provided, it doesn’t hurt to bring some of your own things to ensure a successful delivery. After all, it’s always better safe than sorry. All it takes is a broken adapter or a bad WiFi network to bring down the best speech; why not prevent that with your own adapter or a mobile hotspot?

Here are a few things to consider packing with you:

A slide changer

While most groups should be able to provide one, this is a low cost purchase to have on the road with you. I prefer to keep it easy with something with just a couple of button (here’s mine), but you will want to find one that best suits your needs. It will allow you to move around onstage and not feel tied to a podium or computer.

Extra batteries

A slide changer will do you no use if it is out of batteries, so always keep a few spare ones in your bag. It is also worth bringing a backup charger for your computer.

Adapters

Never assume the group will provide an adapter, especially if you have a Mac. I think it is safe to say that I have had a proper adapter provided in less than 10 percent of my events, so trust me — it is always best to come prepared. If you have an older laptop, a VGA adapter is usually all you need. With newer models, I find it easiest to have their two multi-port adapters that cover my bases: this one and this one. Either way, I recommend going to an Apple store to make sure you have all of your options ready to go.

A kitchen timer

Being onstage and running through your well-practiced speech can feel like clockwork. You probably already have a good idea of how long it runs, but a simple kitchen timer can keep you on time and efficient. In a perfect world, your laptop will be nearby with a timer on it — but you may not have that option of the AV team is running it from the back of the room. With a cheap kitchen timer, you can set it on the podium and check in occasionally to keep proper time for your talk. You can also ask someone to give you a five and ten-minute warning signal.

A bottle of water

There is nothing worse than a dry mouth to get in the way of a shining presence. Most places will have water bottles on hand, but again, it is better safe than sorry. Keep it at the podium and sip on it as needed to stay hydrated and fresh.

As with many things in business, preparation is key to a successful speaking engagement. The best thing you can do for yourself (other than stay away from loud, patterned clothing) is cover your bases in terms of audiovisual needs. You have full control over your speech, so you should take the same power over how it is presented to the audience.