Event lingo that all event professionals should know
As attendees walk into an event, there is an excitement in the air … the upbeat music, bold lighting, and beautiful visuals; the hands shaking, high-fives, and joyous greetings; the hunt for the perfect seat or rush to grab a cup of coffee before the lights dim and the opening experience officially begins.
Backstage, however, is a different story. Surrounded by blinking lights, computer screens, and equipment packaging, the show crew sits, alert and calm, with their headsets over their ears, listening intently to every word.
If a member of the audience suddenly jumped on the crew communication channel, half the words may seem like foreign terms – but the show crew is communicating important information in a language they are all fluent in.
Like most industries, especially those that are quick-paced and rely on thorough communication, the live event industry has their own glossary of terms and words that is understood by anybody in production, but may be entirely unrecognizable to others.
Because cues are called rapidly, information is needed instantaneously, and the crew must work together at all steps of the production process, it’s vital that anybody closely involved with an event understands certain terms and slang. Failing to know basic terms can lead to significant misunderstandings, causing confusion and wasting time and money.
Luckily, we’ve compiled some top event terms that any event professional should know …
The first and last things that takes place on show site – loading equipment into (and later, out of) the event space.
Not to be confused with load-in, setup is the actual process of installing audio, video, lighting, scenic, and any other equipment needed for the event. For shows with a large amount of equipment or extensive setup needs, it’s not uncommon for load-in to take place the afternoon prior to set up.
Strike takes place after the final session has ended, as the crew takes down all the equipment and gear in the event room, leaving it exactly as it was before load-in began. Load-out typically immediately follows strike.
Most commonly referring to power distribution, this high-amperage connection to the facility generator is distributed throughout the venue as needed.
Traditional or “old school” lighting systems required dimmers, but modern deployments typically use distro instead. This is usually located backstage in a location that is out of the way but easily accessible.
Front of House (FOH)
An area in the audience (usually towards the back of the room) where the show caller, audio engineer, and lighting designer perform their duties throughout the event.
Back of House (BOH)
Alternatively, this is where the majority of the show crew performs their duties. Back of House also serves as a staging area for talent and performers.
Often the largest technical area of an event, and one that is crucial to its success. Video village is where the graphics, playback, camera shading, switching, and engineering positions work during an event.
Soft goods (like drapes) have an important role to play in events! Fluffing refers to the process ensuring that the drapes are hanging flat and evenly, keeping an excess yardage neatly tucked upstage. This is typically done throughout the event since people [inappropriately] walking through may disrupt the drape.
The downstage monitor (typically a flat screen whos size depends on the stage and venue) allows presenters to see their content, notes, speaker timer, and anything they may need to have eyes on during their presentation.
These removable dividers in large meeting spaces allow the room to be reconfigured into smaller sizes for sessions and breakouts alike.
Throughout the course of an event, there will often be smaller meetings which take place throughout the run of the meeting. These meetings tend to take place concurrently with different attendees attending different sessions. They are often more collaborative or feature more targeted, specific information.
Often featured as part of a contract with hired talent, keynote speakers, or entertainment, a rider outlines and specifies what the featured performer requires in addition to their fee. This includes technical needs, but also may include travel and dietary requirements.
The Destination Management Company, who specializes in booking venues, travel, meals, entertainment, excursions, and more! DMCs handle services that are typically not provided by a technical production partner, although they may work together closely on various aspects of the event.
Taking a bio or 10/1
If someone gets on the intercom and says they will be “taking a bio”, it doesn’t mean they’re taking a quick break to work on an autobiography. Similarly, a “10/1” isn’t referring to the time of day, or some kind of coordinates within the room. Taking a bio or 10/1 usually means the person is running to the bathroom … ideally before the show starts or in a moment they aren’t needed.
This can be confusing the first time you hear it – and if you don’t know what it means, it could leave you wondering when you’ll get a restroom break!
All industries have their own terms, slang, and short-speak, and the live event industry may rely on it more than most! If you’re looking to communicate more effectively with a show crew or event production partner, this list is a great place to start!
At Encompass, we have unique backgrounds that situate us perfectly to produce high end and complex offerings. We’ve worked in broadcast television, touring entertainment, live sporting events, and countless convention facilities across the country.
We have technical design experience and a disciplined process in place that allows us to easily scale events and shift from in-person to virtual without angst. There isn’t much that’s beyond our scope and we love the intensity of putting on events!
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