There are lots of factors involved in choosing the right venue for your event, but have you considered the impact of your venue on your event amplification plans?
Not all venues are created equal, and whilst some are fantastic spaces for amplified and hybrid events, others have not yet caught up with the social media age.
So, what should you look for in a venue if you are planning to run an amplified or hybrid event?
Here are three important things you need to bear in mind when choosing a venue for your amplified event:
Mood lighting is all very well and nice, but if you are planning to record or live video stream your event, you will need to think carefully about the lighting at your venue.
Cameras are not as sensitive to light as the human eye, and the low light levels found in a lot of conference venues (particularly hotels) can lead to dim, grainy footage.
If the light levels in your chosen room are low, or particularly yellow, it is worth hiring additional lighting to help improve the quality of the video footage you are able to get from the event. Talk to your videographer or your event amplifier to find out what will work best.
Keep in mind that the speaker will need to be well lit at all times, even when they are showing slides on a projector screen. One of the biggest problems we often face when filming events is the inexplicable tenancy organisers seem to have for dimming ALL of the lights when a projector screen is in use, plunging the speaker into gloom at the side of the stage. This has a negative impact on your speaker, your physical audience and the quality of your final video footage.
Good lighting at your conference venue will have lots of other knock-on benefits. It will help your conference photographer produce better pictures and improve the experience for your physical attendees too by lifting the atmosphere of the event. It is an important aspect to get right when choosing your venue.
Amplified and hybrid events rely on your audience having access to the internet in order to share in the online discussions surrounding the event.
Wifi is absolutely fundamental for any amplified event. However, some venues charge steep rates for delegate access to wifi, and it can be tempting to ask delegates to pay for this themselves if they want to make use of the wifi. This inevitably leads to much grumbling and a steep reduction in the amount of tweeting and other online activity around the event.
If you are serious about encouraging amplified discussions surrounding your event, you must negotiate with your venue to include delegate wifi access as part of your venue hire package.
Some venues are able to put limits in place to avoid excessive data consumption and therefore prevent costs racking up if your delegates blow your bandwidth allowance. You will need to think carefully about what your delegates are likely to be doing with their wifi access whilst they are at the event to assess whether this is appropriate.
You might also consider publishing an acceptable use policy, reminding delegates to be considerate of others when using the conference wifi and to avoid downloading or uploading large amounts of data over the network, as this will slow things down for everyone.
One of the best setups I have come across for delegate wifi was at The Mermaid Centre in London, the venue for the AHRC Digital Transformations Moot. The venue’s technician could see who was abusing their network access, slow their internet speed and send them a message asking them to be more considerate. If only all venues had that level of wifi management!
3. Mobile Signal
There will always be times when wifi networks fail, but in order for the conversation to go on, it is vital that your delegates can get some kind of access to the internet.
When carrying out a site visit, it is good to check the strength of the 3G signal, preferably from several different network carriers. Good mobile access at a venue will help keep your delegates happy, and keep the discussion going around the conference venue, even when wifi is out of reach.
It is worth discussing venue requirements with your event amplifier to make sure you choose a venue that supports everything you want to do at your event. Holding these discussions early will allow you time to arrange the hire of any additional equipment or services that may be required to get everything absolutely right for your whole audience, wherever they may be on the day.