What AV Can Learn from Live Events

From Commercial Integrator Making Waves- August 2023

What AV Can Learn From Live Events

What happens when the female-dominated meeting and event-planning space collides with the male-dominated AV industry? 

by Amada Eberle

As someone who has focused their career within the technology space, it is known and unfortunately expected that there is a lack a female representation. It is something that those of us that work in pro-av industry are working to change. I work and am a leader within the live events segment of the industry, while system integrators work on fix installations, myself and my team get to work in the temporary. We work in the short term, we utilize pro-av event technology to build an event, execute the vision and then tear it down to do it all over again. We thrive off the thrill of the rush to get everything built within a short amount of time, ride the high of executing the vision of our clients and find solace at then end of the event when we pack it all up. To be able to do what we love we work with our meeting and event planners clients and partners. 

The Polar Opposite
Meeting and event planner in terms of female representation is the opposite from where we are in pro-av. As found on Zippa, 85.6% of meeting/event planners are female while 14.4% are men. This is in stark comparisons from who the primary people meeting planner must work with when they are partnering with an AV company. When co-owners Andrew Brode and Justin Frick of AV Chicago, entered into conversations with me to become their general manager, this dichotomy was something that hadn’t ever occurred to me. Coming from the non-profit space within the av industry, I was hyper aware of the gender disparity of our industry but I never thought of it from a company to client perspective. As the world began to open up post-pandemic and networking events began to happen again, I dove headfirst into attending industry events. I was not only in a new role leading an organization, I was also in a new city and wanted to get to know the people in it and the potential/ current clients of my organization. For the majority of my career thus far, I was use to networking events where I was one of the few females in attendance but like a breath of fresh air, the events I had to privilege of attending had a majority of females in attendance. I felt honored that the industry peers I met, welcomed me and I felt connect to a different group of event professionals. 

Addressing & Presenting Solutions
As I started working to prospect and meet new people, I also started feeling more comfortable addressing and presenting solutions for events from an av perspective. As an organization, we have the opportunity to work on a wide array of events. Everything from intricate lighting designs to add texture and atmosphere to corporate conference with curated content on an LED wall, to elegant galas where well executed av helps raise money for important causes. Our meeting and event planner clients are tasked at being experts in all elements of their events so they can deliver and delight their guest. With that they are responsible for everything from transportation/ parking plans, tablescapes and décor, catering with an array of dietary needs, content to be presented and my favorite, the av so that the purpose and message at the event can be successfully delivered. While ever aspect of events has their own expertise and specialities, every other component except av, has a majority contingency of female representation. Technology fields in general have a stigma of being a “boys” club and that women don’t understand. 

In a recent Coffee and Conversation ILEA Chicago event, I had the opportunity to sit around the table with an esteemed group of women who happened to be mostly meeting planners. As a group they are responsible for not only the budgets of their events but also what vendors are selected. All of them know what they are looking for when it comes to their events and the outcomes they or their clients are looking for as it pertains to av. They have all worked to education themselves on not only what various gear is but to understand what it does. The amount of times they have felt talked down to by to by a male av salesperson is infuriating and to me is just sad.

Tool to Augment & Enhance
AV event technology is a tool to augment and enhance the experience of attendees. It is a creative art of its own and a critical part of an event. As professionals, the gender of a partner should never be a factor in how someone is being communicated to or treated. We only succeed when we all work together to accomplish the event goals. As a female leader for an event production company I look for ways to carry the torch to be a trusted partner with my meeting and event planner peers and strive to enforce and educate a transparent model of pricing and doing business. Without trust between valuable partners and clients we lose our ability to transform av into a meaningful event experience. 

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