Events - By Ally

How to Avoid Embarrassing Tech Faux Pas at Your Next Event

There you are. Day one of next year’s big event. The stage is lit, the seats are filled, and the speaker is ready to go on.

The crowd is anxiously awaiting the first main stage talk of the day and clap enthusiastically as the speaker walks out.

Standing in front of the crowd, they only seem to be talking, when you realize….

The mic isn’t working.

Technology failures are any event planner’s worse nightmare. Click To Tweet Because try as we might, it’s nearly impossible to plan for everything that might go wrong.

There is no bigger culprit for an event mishap than messy technology, and it’s easy to see why! With so many wires, batteries, parts and pieces, and usually only a few experts among your staff with the expertise to use and troubleshoot it, technical failures can easily happen to just about anyone.

Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case. Today, we’ll be talking all about technical difficulties and how you can avoid a number of embarrassing tech faux pas at your next event. Ready to dive in?

Mic/sound equipment fail

First up on our list of embarrassing tech malfunctions is sound and mic equipment, because more often than not, if one piece of tech is to fail, it’ll be this.

Having mics cut out, feedback blaring through your speakers, or not having your speakers mic’d up appropriately can not only affect the attendees’ perception of your event but also ruin any recorded or live streamed materials you may produce.

Therefore, regardless of how large the event is, crystal clear sound is always a must.

Unfortunately, the larger your event, the more of an investment sound equipment becomes. Nothing about running sound for a large venue is easy, and it won’t necessarily work right the first time. And the larger the event you run, the more likely it is that you’ll need to hire a crew to help run your audio as well. If you do choose to work with someone, make sure you have confidence in who you bring on to help and that you do plenty of dry runs before the day of. For very large events, venues might also have someone in-house they prefer to work with or suggestions of a recommended vendor.

If your event is smaller, you can have an in-house staff member manage the mics during your event. If you do choose to do this, it’s essential that you use the appropriate gear so that you maintain excellent sound quality and aren’t inhibited by the tech itself. If the cost becomes a hindrance in choosing the gear you use for your event, check out local A/V stores in your area to try and rent wireless mics and headsets for the time leading up to your event.

If you’re looking for more information about potential mic faux pas, check out the Event Tech Preparedness Checklist, here!

Tech malfunctions

Issues with Wi-Fi during your event

After mic and sound issues, the most common tech faux pas at any event is to have slow Wi-Fi, no Wi-Fi, or worse, Click To Tweet Wi-Fi that goes down midway through.

There is no way around it, in today’s day and age, having a stable and consistent Wi-Fi connection is a must. While your venue might provide access to some Wi-Fi network, the more people you have in attendance, the more likely it is that your Wi-Fi service will begin to drag.

Reliable internet at an event is used for more than live tweeting (although, it’s essential for that). It’s also vital for providing presenters with the most accurate information, live streaming talks, even vendors or sponsored booths need it to run credit card payments or run media.

To help you avoid getting bogged down because of this, here are a few helpful hints:

  • Get a specific network for event staff only, so that they aren’t competing for bandwidth with attendees or presenters.
  • If your mainstage talks are showing videos, or other large files, come prepared with an alternative solution (like USB) to use if the streaming becomes too slow.
  • Have a clear plan, or a person in charge, if something happens to the Wi-Fi. You can hire a specialist if your budget allows or choose a person on staff with that expertise to get familiar with the networks and troubleshoot them before the big day.

Tech malfunctions

Slide malfunction

Next up on our list of avoidable tech faux pas comes presenter slide malfunctions. Nothing is worse, for the attendees AND the presenter, than having a speaker fumble through their presentation slides because they’re out of order or not prepared. It just looks sloppy.

However, if you have mainstage speakers who will be using slides, the odds are they could have edits or changes they want to make even right up to the very last minute of the event, which is a breeding ground for potential mistakes.

So what are you to do?

One easy solution is to include mandatory dry runs of any talks that will be happening on stage an hour or so before they present, with the speaker’s final version of their slides. While timing can make it difficult to schedule these dry runs, they’re vital to the success of all your speakers.

Likewise, setting clear expectations with all of your presenters about when slides are expected to be in their finished form can ensure that no one is going on stage with slides they haven’t practiced with.

Finally, if something does go wrong with the speakers’ slides, keep calm and host them online for attendees to review afterward. Services like Dropbox, SlideShare, or GitHub can be really effective and easy platforms to use, and allow you to send any viewable slides over to your attendees all in one place, with only a link.

Inadequate tech

Lastly, the final tech faux pas we see most often is actually the simplest to avoid — forgetting tech or gear, like chargers, adapters, batteries, or USB drives.
Overall, the key to avoiding a major tech faux pas at your event will come down to being as prepared as possible for all situations that may arise, and missing out on these important tech pieces is a recipe for disaster, every time.

If you’re unsure what you’ll need, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and have a bag close at hand with backups of everything you’ll be relying on. Redundancy might seem annoying, but it’ll be worth it the minute a microphone’s battery dies.

Get the bonus content: Event Tech Preparedness Checklist

Final thought

As with all things event and tech, the more prepared you and your team are, the smoother everything will run and the more likely your attendees will leave feeling great.

Remember to always do your leg work and keep a backup of all the tech and files you’ll need on the day of, just in case.

Finally, if a tech mishap happens, as always — just keep rolling with the punches. Stay calm, and adjust accordingly. Your attendees are rooting for you to succeed and will be patient with you as you figure it out.