Organising an event can be a very complex process. You need to negotiate with a number of different vendors, many of whom have to work successfully together if your event is going to be all that you dreamed of. Of course, an event is a sensory experience, and therefore you need to pay particular attention to the audiovisual aspect. You need to bring in a specialist, and you need to know what you need to discuss with the specialist to ensure everything goes well.
Finding a Partner
Fundamentally, your AV expert should be invested in your success. They will certainly bring the experience and knowledge you need, but you need to be able to work with them as a partner all the way through the process. They can fill in any gaps in your knowledge base and may also be able to suggest tricks and techniques that you hadn't thought about.
Helping with the Contract
Go through your venue contract with your AV professional before you even think about signing it. The hotel may well provide certain elements as standard or may want to "encourage" you to use some of their in-house facilities so they can bring in extra profit. Don't take anything for granted, and definitely ensure that nothing is being left out. If your vendor is going to penalise you in any way for bringing in an outside specialist, you need to know this in advance and potentially renegotiate.
Matching Your Budget
Audiovisual costs can run the gamut from simple and straightforward to extravagant. You need to have your budget in mind before you begin a conversation, but if you can be flexible, things will go more smoothly if your specialist suggests something that works really well. You need to know what equipment items are vital and what would be "nice" to have. You need to know how many microphones you need as well as the numbers of projectors, switchers and lighting cans that are necessary. You definitely need to discuss your plans to live-stream your event over the Internet if this is the case, as this will bring in additional technical issues like bandwidth.
Doing a Walk-Through
It's a good idea to walk through the venue with your AV provider to discuss everything in place. You may find that certain structural elements within the room preclude the type of AV effect that you have had in mind or may require additional pieces of equipment. You also need to know how easy (or otherwise) it's going to be to load in the equipment before you start.
Covering All the Details
Give your AV provider your proposed schedule. This will include the number of speakers that you have, a minute-by-minute itinerary, the number of audience participation sessions you plan on having and other elements. Do any of your speakers have particular needs when it comes to hardware or software on stage? How will the visual elements be coordinated to match the speech delivery?
The more information you give to your event AV professional in order to ensure that the right technology is used in the right sequence for a seamless delivery, the better.