Meeting planners don’t have to be expert caterers, hoteliers or transportation service providers. They do, however, need to understand the language of those industries in order to effectively plan a successful event.

The audio-visual world is no different. The list of terms can seem endless, and it changes with each new technological advancement. For a few suggestions on terms meeting planners should be familiar with, we reached out to some experts: Michael Cassell, the AV sales manager for Amway Hotel Corporation, and Paul Ymker, director of audio-visual services for Bluewater Technologies in Grand Rapids.

Here they are in no particular order: front of house, confidence monitor, aspect ratio, IMAG, rigging, truss, microphone varieties, stage décor, gobo and Moddim tiles.

Front of house

In AV terms, this is used to describe the space in the event room where AV techs will be set up – the lighting or sound person, for example. Why is this important? Because planners need to accommodate that space in their floor plans. If not, things could get crowded.

Confidence monitor

It’s daunting enough for speakers to stand in front a crowd without them having to worry about whether the correct image is appearing on the screen behind them. Confidence monitors are small screens strategically placed in view of the speaker, usually duplicating what the audience sees.

“Presenters on stage are able to look down discreetly,” Ymker said. “It helps them present more naturally.” (Related term: Doghouse monitor, a confidence monitor housed inside a hood or case.)

Aspect ratio

If you’ve ever edited an image on an iPhone, you may have used these without knowing what they are. The aspect ratio is the width of a screen (or an image) versus the height, with the numbers separated by a colon.  Widescreen, or a typical movie view, can be 16:9, while a traditional screen view is 4:3.

“Most media is formatted for widescreen these days,” Cassell said. “Usually 4:3 content looks dated.”


IMAG is short for image magnification and it refers to the large screens throughout the venue that provide a close-up of the presenter on stage. Depending on the room, planners need to allocate space for IMAG cameras and screens.


In the AV world, rigging refers to the equipment used to suspend lighting, projectors or sound equipment from the ceiling of a venue. Ymker said planners need to know whether the venue can accommodate rigging or if stands will have to be brought in. “Depending on the size of the event, it can be a problem,” he said.


Trusses, part of the rigging, are made from aluminum tubing and come in different lengths. They are used to hang lights, drapes, speakers or other equipment. They can be connected to fit whatever size is needed.

Microphone varieties

There are simple table mics or podium mics, which are self-explanatory. There are also mobile mics, including lavalier mics (or lav mics), which attach to the front of a person’s clothing, and headset mics, which wrap around a person’s ear to extend the mic in front of their mouth. A Q&A mic is set up in the audience to allow questions and comments.

Stage décor

Depending on the event budget, this could be elaborate lighting creations or simple drapes and spotlights. It’s the overall look and feel of the stage.


Part of stage décor, a gobo is a simple way to customize or brand an event. It’s a glass or metal template that fits inside a lighting instrument to project a company logo, event logo, words or other design onto a backdrop, ceiling, dance floor or wall.

Moddim tiles

Also part of stage décor, Moddim tiles are customizable backdrops for stage settings. These versatile, interlocking tiles come in several designs and can be clear or solid. “They are easily lit from behind or below to create different effects,” Cassell said. “It provides a unique look to the back of your stage and it’s a nice way to warm up a room.”

Again, this is just a sample of the terminology that will help planners get through discussions with AV professionals. But really, it’s those discussions that can be key to a successful event.

Planners need to communicate their intended outcome for the event and the desired flow of the program. Those conversations yield ideas and solutions to achieve those goals.

“The AV provider isn’t just an order taker; they should be asking questions,” Cassell said. “The event really dictates how complicated the AV may be. You just have to talk and get a feel for what’s needed. Discussion is really critical.”

Looking for an expert in the Grand Rapids area who can assist you with A/V equipment? Find local experts on our service providers page.

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