This is a guest post by Howard Givner, Executive Director, Event Leadership Institute.

Can you hear me now?

Hearing someone speaking at an event is more important than seeing him or her. It’s easy for the novice planner to simply lump all that “audio visual stuff” into a single bucket, but for all the visual brilliance of today’s flat screen TVs and high tech projectors, without good sound, you’re dead in the water.

Think about it for a moment. If you’re sitting in the audience at a sales meeting and there’s a problem with the slides, it may not be ideal, but the speaker can still deliver his presentation. If the sound is garbled, however, it’s a train wreck.

The truth is … plenty of event attendees don’t even look at the stage; their gaze wanders around the room, they check their smart phones, or they might even have their eyes closed. But assuming the sound is clear, they can still understand and retain the entire message.

Testing 1, 2, 3 — addressing potential audio problems BEFORE your event

Now that we understand the importance of good sound, let’s look at the two categories of potential audio problems. The first is systemic, where you maybe have the wrong gear, an inexperienced crew, or improper installation. That’s pretty much negligence, and is relatively rare.

The more likely problem is the result of the idiosyncrasies of your presenters. Everyone speaks at different volume levels, so even if they’re all using the same gear, say a fixed podium microphone, some speakers may sound too loud, others too soft. Some too tinny, others with too much bass.

A good audio technician can easily make adjustments on the sound board to even out these variations and deliver a more uniform level of sound from speaker to speaker. They can do this the easy way, or the hard way.

The hard way is on the fly, with no advance warning. Someone gets to the podium and speaks with a booming voice, and it’ll take the audio tech a few seconds to adjust their settings. Those few seconds will sound jarring to the audience while the tech figures out how to catch up to each speaker’s unique voice.

The easy way is to get the speakers to do a sound check prior to the program. That way the audio technician can pre-set the calibrations for each individual presenter, insuring that the audience experiences a smooth level of sound throughout the program. It only takes a few minutes to do this, and can make a huge difference in sound quality for your event.

One tip to get speakers to participate in sound checks is to make sure you don’t call them “rehearsals.” Many executives and professional speakers don’t feel they need a rehearsal; however, few will refuse a sound check when the technical importance of it is explained to them.

For additional tips on this topic, watch the following clip or visit our website to watch the complete video.