How to Explain AV Cost to Decision Makers

How to Explain AV Cost to Decision Makers

It happens. Maybe you needed to switch to a bigger venue, your presenters need larger screens, or perhaps union labor was more than you thought.

Now, your event’s AV cost is higher than you expected — and you need to sit down with your boss, client, or supervisor to explain.

Ok, deep breaths. Adjusting what you need for AV is a natural part of the planning process, and explaining the cost will be easy if you’re armed with the right facts.

Here are four pointers to keep in mind:

Prioritize AV Upfront  
The best way to avoid surprises is to set expectations about the cost of AV from the start.

In your early planning meetings, start with your overall end-goal. Does your event need to show your customers that you’re a stable industry leader? Or is the goal to break away entirely from your competitors? Professional lighting, staging, and audio are critical to meeting any of those goals — but there has to be enough room in the budget.

From the get-go, describe why you need AV in order meet your goals — and why you may need flexibility in the AV budget if parts of the event change and grow. It will be easier to explain any budget adjustments to decision makers if they’re thinking about AV from day one.

Do Your Research and Compare Quotes
We get it. AV quotes can be perplexing. You may get quotes back and ask yourself, “Why do I need a mixer, exactly?” Or, “Wait, is a confidence monitor the same as a teleprompter?”

Be prepared to elaborate on the main components in a quote or proposal. Don’t be afraid to ask your AV provider for details. (We can chat gear all day long.)

You should also get different quotes. As Tracy Punch at Social Tables describes, be sure to compare them apples-to-apples so you know exactly where the differences lie. For example, two AV companies could be charging you very different amounts for projectors and screens. But are the projectors as bright? Are the screens’ dimensions the same, or is one a more modern, widescreen format?

Finally, if you need options, your AV provider can give you two quotes: one pared-back quote that still provides all the equipment and services you need, and one that brings the full vision of your event to life. Then, let your client or boss have the final say on the right way to go.

Emphasize the Time You’ll Save
Your boss or client wants you focusing on the big picture. Are you booking fantastic speakers? Is the theme on-point? Are enough people going to show up?

When you hire an AV company that handles all the details, you can make other elements of the event shine. Meanwhile, an AV contract that includes only the bare-bones minimum means you’re spending time troubleshooting and managing miscellaneous details. Emphasize this to your decision maker, and they’ll be able to justify a higher cost of a full AV team.

Ask them: What’s the cost of a missed opportunity?
If your decision makers are still hesitant in making room in the budget for AV services, you’ll need to remind them of the cost of a missed opportunity. What does it look like to your potential customers when your event looks or sounds slapped together? What do you lose when your competitors make a bigger splash?

Josh Linker, a professional speaker and author on innovation, has presented at hundreds of corporate meetings and events. He emphasizes that leaders need to understand the full price of making an impact, and not just zero-in on line item expenses. As he describes over at Forbes, “When the speaker’s volume is too low, the music volume is too high and the audio in the video presentation is unintelligible, the entire message is lost.”

The cost of AV might be higher than you initially expected — but the cost of leaving customers with a bad impression is much higher.

In short, you got this. When your decision makers take all this into account, you’ll be able to fully justify the cost of high-quality AV services and keep your event planning on-track towards success.