Producing a Live or Virtual Event: Follow the TV Producers Playbook
We have all heard it…. Virtual is here to stay. Some of our clients are excited about it, seeing the possibilities for growth, others are unsure whether virtual, or hybrid, events will be sustainable for their organization. Making this decision has everything to do with your goals, and on your ability to create an engaging, relevant online experience.
Earning the attention of an audience attending your event from home or their office is not easy. There are so many diversions that can pull them away…. email, projects, laundry, staff, or children.
At Blue Danube, we’ve deemed this “The Distraction Attraction.” The idea that, as humans, we are naturally drawn away from that which we should be focused on and to whatever just popped up on our screen, into our office, or perhaps it is even as mundane as the dishwasher calling our name to empty it. As event organizers, we are competing against all other distractions in our attendees’ lives.
- How will our event win against so many distractions?
- How do we make an event work in the virtual or hybrid space?
- How do we make it bingeworthy?
Part of our solution is to follow the playbook written by TV Producers.
In Shonda Rhimes’s “Tips for Pitching a TV Show” MasterClass she says, “A great pitch is well-structured, visual, and quickly and easily conveys your show’s concept and central characters.”
We think of a Run of Show outline in a similar manner.
TV Producers have perfected the art of capturing attention in one of the most distracting places possible: home. Countless research goes into a pilot pitch before it is given the greenlight. Even more data is analyzed after the show airs the first episode and is consumed by its target audience. For better or worse, the endless television formats that exist are arguably the best models to draw inspiration from when contemplating whether to virtual or not to virtual.
The industry has learned the traditional event format does not translate well to the online world. This means content delivery and show flow may need to change, however, the structure of creating an event remains the same.
Define your event. Design with intent.
Intention is the key to understanding why an event is successful or not. Before you design with intent, you need to define your event.
- What type of event is this?
- Who is the audience?
- What is the value you are offering the audience?
- What is the message you want them to take away?
Once you’ve defined the purpose and goal of the event, apply it to your intent.
A typical Run of Show document outlines everything that happens in your event in chronological order - whether the event is live, or livestreamed. At Blue Danube, we add two additional columns: “What is the value to the audience,” and “How does this advance the purpose of the event?”
We like to call it, WTF – What’s This For?
If you have a challenging time filling in these columns, your event is lacking intent. And if it is lacking intent, it is probably not connecting to your audience.
If we want our events to be “bingeworthy,” the solution comes down to value.
When a person chooses to attend an event, it’s because they see value in it. Looking at what TV Producers have done successfully; we know that value can take on different forms.
It makes an event more memorable. Game Shows, Comedy Series, Talk Shows – there are so many ways to make people feel good. Every positive moment helps to reinforce the value of the event.
If you know your attendees are hungry for knowledge, make sure the structure of the event is conducive to learning. Are people wanting to deep-dive on certain topics or get an introductory education on a wide variety of subjects?
If you have ever had goosebumps during a great movie scene, you’ve experienced frisson. Frisson is the sense of being connected to others. No one leaves an event more motivated than someone who has an emotional or spiritual experience.
Make sure you can identify what the attendees should take away from the event. Is the theoretical pot of gold filled with new contacts, best practices, or updated industry news? Once you identify the key takeaway, make it as portable as possible.
Events can be successful in the virtual, or hybrid, world but only when there is value. We have seen musicians streaming live concerts with record virtual attendee numbers, surges in online education sign-ups, and industries adopting Zoom and other platforms for video calls.
How do we create more intentional content so that attendees are engaged in our virtual and hybrid events?
This question is important to reframe how we define an event and design with intent. The fact is people will choose the value proposition that is worth trading their most precious commodity for…. their time.
Now more than ever, it is time to bring a new focus to value. So many opportunities exist to increase engagement and connect with audiences. Let’s help each other define our purpose, make deliberate, intentional choices in constructing content around that purpose, and add value every step of the way.