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Sponsored by: Revelation
August 5, 2021

Live events and Murphy’s Law: if it can go wrong, it will!

Who invited Murphy anyway?

Events are an essential part of doing business as well as a key fundraising component for non-profit organizations. As any event planner will tell you, there are a lot of moving parts to consider when planning and producing a live event, such as a corporate conference or a fundraising gala. The obvious focus points include things like securing a venue, providing parking or shuttles, ticketing, catering, decorations and design, swag bags, music and entertainment, and not to forget creating a run-of-show plan!

Audio, video, lighting, and live streaming are also crucial components to a successful experience, though sometimes overlooked or underestimated. Diving into the audio-visual (AV) realm encompasses a logistics map of its own! Take a closer peek at to what some of those AV specs look like…

Staging and Rigging

Power Supplies

WiFi Accessibility

Set Design and Drape

Microphones, Speakers, and Mixers

Video Displays, Projection, and Monitors

Lighting and Special Effects

Cameras and Switchers

Does your team have the knowledge and experience to navigate AV? Or should the professionals be brought in? During the pandemic shutdown in 2020, when all events became virtual, many in-house teams taught themselves how to deliver basic audio-visual functionality. What could go wrong… right?

According to Murphy’s Law, if it can go wrong, it will! Now that events are no longer restricted to being virtual, let’s look at a sample scenario…

You’re planning an end-of-year business meeting for all your board members, staff, and volunteers. The event will be of the hybrid variety, where in-person guests will be welcomed, but some of the speakers will be chiming in via Zoom, and the occasion will be streamed out to the corporate web site so people can also watch virtually from across the country. An LED wall that was purchased by the company online will be set up as a stage backdrop to display various corporate videos throughout the event. An emcee will be using a teleprompter to lead the evening. A band of musicians is scheduled to entertain at the conclusion of the meeting. It all seems simple and straight-forward!

Now, according to Murphy’s Law, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong! Say, for instance…

• A storm earlier in the day knocks out the Internet connection…

• A presenter via Zoom cannot get their video to display…

• The web site’s security firewall prevents the embedding of a live stream…

• One panel of the LED wall goes black during the video…

• The teleprompter stops advancing, leaving the emcee to adlib…

• The audio mixer was still set to “virtual sound check” when the band began to play…

Needless to say, it sounds like a really stressful evening for that meeting planner! Even though this was a fictional story and a bit over-exaggerated, it holds true to Murphy’s Law – if it can go wrong, it will! Live shows have no do-overs!

So, what do you do when Murphy crashes your event? Professional production teams have encountered Murphy before and are well-acquainted with the infamous character. What makes the production team a valued partner and assures a successful event is how they deal with ‘uninvited guests’ such as Murphy; how they plan ahead to avoid uncomfortable situations if possible.

Valued production partners:

• Stay calm through moments of unexpectedness

• Rely on experience to problem-solve

• Prepare for the unplanned

• Practice redundancy on all allowable occasions

The first two qualities of a valued production partner are self-explanatory. Remain calm and use what you know to work through new problems.

But how does somebody prepare for the unplanned? Keep one step ahead of Murphy! Ask ‘what if’ questions for all aspects of the production and have a game plan for each answer. Remember that AV equipment is mostly electronic, none of which is fool proof!

Redundancy is a word never to take lightly and means to double up, have a back-up. Do you or your production team have a back-up plan if the power should fail? Is there an inventory of ‘spare parts’ in case of emergency, such as extra remote controls, extra batteries, or extra LEDs? Are there premeditated workarounds in case one method fails? Are show computers doubled up in case one should freeze? These are all important considerations!

Remember Murphy’s Law: if it can go wrong, it will go wrong! Partnering with an experienced AV team for your next event is always a valued expense to help eliminate Murphy from the equation! In the end, it’s not always worth it to save money on audio-visual when a lack of planning or experience could cost you the event!

Who let this Murphy fella in anyway?