April 7, 2017 Sound Sabotage
I recently conducted an auction event that was sold out. This was a great event – the decorations were second to none and the evening included fabulous live and silent auction items.
When I did my sound and lighting check upon arrival at the venue I immediately realized the sound company had not provided a sufficient number of speakers in both the silent and live auction areas. I expressed my concern to the sound techs who replied “Oh, it will be fine. We have more juice!” They didn’t realize there would be such a large number of guests.
As the evening progressed and we got into the cocktail reception and silent auction, the sound was by no means “fine”. In the silent auction area, the guests were unable to hear my announcements, much less understand what I was saying. It was, of course, too late at that point to do anything to remedy the situation other than have a quick meeting with the volunteers to have their “boots on the ground” to help notify the guests of the silent auction closings. Getting this notification out to everyone was crucial because we were closing the silent auction in sections.
As we got into the evening’s program and the live auction, the sound in the ballroom didn’t prove to be much better. Well, it was sufficient for the first 2 rows of tables but not the remaining 10 rows. When I began the live auction, I requested that each table assign a “clinker”. This person would, on my prompt, clink their glasses in an effort to get the guests to quiet down. That helped somewhat.
I advise you to hire a reputable audio/visual company who understands the importance of sound and the effect hundreds of people have on a room. Rather than having only two speakers in the front of the room, your sound company should also place two secondary speakers halfway down the room, pointing towards the rear of the space. Not only does this enable the guests in the back to hear but it also prevents having the front speakers so loud that the guests in that area (often your most generous donors) are uncomfortable with a volume that is too loud.
Even with these audio issues, we were able to facilitate a record-breaking event for this nonprofit.
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