When creating an audio visual presentation with a professional company, you can generally rest assured that the AV crew will keep you armed with their expertise and knowledge in creating a gripping AV project. However, that does not mean that you do not need to do your homework.
It's worth highlighting more than once: You need to be hands on with any AV project. You can not simply give your crew a rough outline and let them work it out, or you may wind up with unsatisfying end results and nobody to blame but your own lack of communication.
In other words, you should try to learn a little something about how the process works, what equipment is used and so on, so that you will not be completely out of your element when discussing the project with your crew. In any event, your crew will provide their own equipment, but typically, any AV project will require some or all of the following.
Projectors- Projectors have come a long way since the simple slide show and film projectors you might by thinking of. These days, most projectors rely on LCD and DLP technology. Basically, they're all digital. The upside to this is that you can project directly from a digital source such as a laptop or a zip drive.
Touch Panels- Think of this as a control board, but streamlined into a simple computer interface. Essentially a touch screen like you've seen on an ATM, but assigned the task of playing and switching various audio and video sources.
Mini DV (digital video) Cameras- If your project involves any live video, your crew will likely be using a professional grade Mini DV camera to gather the footage. High end Mini DV cameras offer a clean, professional look, at less than a single percentage of the cost of shooting on film.
Microphones- Every project is quite different when it comes to audio. One presentation may need boom mics to record live sound while another might need no actual audio work done at all. When speaking to a large audience, you'll probably be wearing a "lavalier" microphone, those small mics you see people clipping to their ties on talk shows.
Speakers- If you are speaking to a large audience and the setting where you'll be showing your audio visual project is not specifically set up for audio visual presentations, it may be wise to ask about wireless speakers. They're simply easier and quicker to set up and remove from the room. It's not always an option, but in any event, it never hurts to ask. Your audience is here to watch the presentation, after all, not to watch you and your crew spend a half hour plugging things in.
Luckily, you do not need to be an expert. After all, that's why we hire experts in the first place: because we're not experts, ourselves. Still, it's worth knowing a little bit about the equipment and how it works so that you can make specific requests and so that you can work out exactly what you want with your crew.