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AVIXA's 2020 Event Design of the Year Award: Meredith Francsis

Meredith Francsis, senior creative producer with BlackOak Technical Productions, was recently named the first-ever recipient of AVIXA's Event Design of the Year Award. We sat down with her to hear more of her story.

Read more about all of the 2020 AVIXA Award winners. (opens in new tab)

Meredith Francsis

Meredith Francsis (Image credit: AVIXA)

AVN: How did you get your start in the pro AV industry?

MEREDITH FRANCSIS:  I started in theater working as a lighting tech and quickly realized that I wanted something that was a little more fast-paced. I transitioned to working for a lighting rental/sales house in Chicago where I was working with clients to design and service their lighting system needs.

While I was there,  I got put in touch with the AV department of Kehoe Designs, which is now known as BlackOak Technical Productions. I worked as their sales rep for about a year, and then they asked me to come and design and sell AV systems as part of their team. Kehoe Designs and BlackOak Technical Productions specialize in live events of all types—corporate, weddings, galas, etc. It was a great transition because now I get to use my skillset as an AV designer and work directly with clients to be creative about their events! 

I will be hitting 5 years with Kehoe and BlackOak this October and I'm looking forward to many more. 

AVN: Why is it important for event professionals to understand and be familiar with pro AV technology?

MF:  Its important to know just enough to be dangerous. With a basic understanding of pro AV, planners and other designers would be able to use technology to their advantage and bring another level of sophisticated design to their events. 

Things like adding color changes with lighting throughout the night to alter the mood and atmosphere of the event bring an additional sensory delight to the guests and change the event design from great to spectacular. 

AVN: How are you using pro AV technology to bring your clients' messaging to life?

MF: My first mission is to understand the roots of the messaging and how to translate that vision into an event setting. 

My second mission is to figure out how to innovate that message through AV. What are the most important elements and how do we highlight them in a way that easily translates into an experience for a guest? I utilize things like moving lights to give the design the most flexibility, specially designed audio systems to capture every corner of the room, and innovative video systems to captivate the guests attention. 

AVN: How can AV professionals be more proactive in working with live events teams?

MF: As everyone knows, during a live event, there are many moving parts. AV professionals can be more proactive by listening, practicing patience, and being team players with all of the other disciplines onsite. 

Everyone at that event has the same goal and working together positively is the only way to reach it. 

AVN: Anything else you'd like to add?

MF: The live event industry is always changing and innovating. Keeping fresh on types of equipment and design can elevate your end results. A special shoutout to my team for their support and for always saying "Yes, and....". 

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Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (opens in new tab)(SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine (opens in new tab), both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV (opens in new tab), where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage (opens in new tab), an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.