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General Sessions Series: How to WOW Your Audience and Keep Them Captivated

General Sessions Series: How to WOW Your Audience and Keep Them Captivated

Now that you have a few beginning ideas, it’s time to get into the specifics of the room.

Audio Visual Production

While we may say AV production is a component of the setting and transforms the stage, we have chosen to address it on its own because of the incredible things you can do with these services:

Projection mapping: this technique uses everyday video projectors to map digital content on to any surface vs. a traditional flat projection screen. For instance, you can transform a standard stage into an alien spaceship complete with animated controls. Best of all, there’s no cleanup.

Fog screens: can enable visual projections of video or lasers in mid-air, no need for a backdrop. Technology has also improved to the point that using fog and lasers no longer leaves you with a hazy mess.

Gobos: these fun “animated” lights can project a pattern onto your ceiling, walls, or floor (any flat surface, really). Think of them as a customizable disco ball with personality. They are a simple and easy way to create immersive experiences at your events.

Video walls: are LED panels tiled together to create a custom display. They enhance presentations by setting the stage and providing a stunning backdrop.

Live streaming: presenters need not be at your location. You can live stream your them from anywhere there’s an internet connection. In addition to that, your audience doesn’t have to physically be at your event when you live stream your event.

Music and Entertainment

You want to use all the senses with this first impression so think about how music will affect mood. Do you want something upbeat and intense, or mellow and soothing? Maybe you want something thematic.

Not only do you have a choice about the kind of music, but the volume and way it is played should also be part of the plan. Do you want a band, a DJ, or recorded tracks?

Plus, if you have a band playing in the background as people walk in (and not as a major attraction), attendees become immune to their sound. They begin to treat it as background music. Unless you’re putting forth the effort to rock out with an opening act, you can save the band for later or make sure it’s clear they are an opening act and not cocktail music.

Finally, this is also where rigging comes in. With rigging, your entertainment and music options take flight...literally. You’d be amazed at what you can do when you’re not limited to a stage or the floor.

Early Setup Makes for a Sane Event Planner

Make sure you have plenty of time for set up. Yes, you’ll pay more renting the room earlier than you technically need it, but the last thing you want is a lack of time for setup in an area that will be one of your first impressions on the audience. You don’t ever want to find yourself explaining to your guests (or your client) what it was supposed to look like.

Taking possession of the room 24-48 hours or several days before the first attendee is allowed in, is a good idea of what you’ll need.

Transport the Audience

The following areas will set the mood and potentially “transport” your guests to the world you’ve created, so give these things serious thought and planning.


This is usually one of the first things noticed because it’s often well-lit and directly in front of where the attendees enter. Even without your general session speaker present, you should have the stage set to evoke an emotion or feeling. Attendees should look at the stage in anticipation of what's to come.

Some event producers create elaborate backdrops using projection mapping (more about this in a bit) or a slideshow of evocative images. Others go for a nostalgic wrap-up of the past year (or last year’s event) in images. There are tons of creative options, just think about what you want attendees to feel, know, and do, then shape the flow of the experience accordingly.


Think of the stage as the elevated platform from which your presenter will captivate the audience.

The set, on the other hand, is everything else around that raised platform.

Popular set items include curtains, rigging, lighting and props – but we’re going to leave that for the next component.

Meeting design tip:

Always include an opener set aside from the main show. When you have a band to walk in to and then have them continue to play right up until the main speaker, there’s no WOW! moment. Movie trailers never go right into the main feature. The lights go down and there’s often just silence.

Please call +1 (800) 967-2419 or contact one of our AV production experts today to learn how we can flawlessly produce your next event.