Your creativity as an event producer can be classic or it can be a twist of the classic. For example, you know the old saying, “give a man a fish, he eats for today. Teach a man how to order a fish taco and he eats forever!” Wait that is not how it goes! And you would be correct. A couple of marketing gurus in Rome, New York have taking the classic proverb and changed it to their style; a recognizable creed that helps sell more fish tacos.
It is creativity that will help someone engage with your Sunday morning, a campaign launch, or the opening night of a women’s retreat. But don’t blow it with catchy new proverbs or strobe lights, stark transitions or selfish programing. Don’t miss that creativity takes time.
Producers take special care in programming a live event. Here are the 6 obsessions of a great event producer:
It’s About People.
It’s about the people in the seats. Plan all you want, but you must think like an audience. When people leave the event, what emotion or feeling do you want them to leave with? It’s likely that you want them informed, entertained, moved, relieved, convicted, or better than they were. They didn’t show up to leave distraught, confused or angry.
Whether it’s a ticketed event or a Sunday morning service, people have taken the time and have a certain expectation about your event. In many ways, they are the boss.
As I left the Penn & Teller show in Las Vegas, Penn Jillett was out front, he shook my hand and thanked me for coming. He said “thanks boss!” Its true. I am his boss. If the audience doesn’t show up, he doesn’t have a job. Any show without an audience is a rehearsal. Remember its not about you, its about the people in the seats.Any show without an audience is a rehearsal Click To Tweet
Find A Connection
The next obsession of a great event producer is to find a way to connect with those people I just wrote about. Without forgetting about the big picture, find a way to grab people emotionally and connect with them on a deeper level. This starts with having a good feel of the room. To feel the room is to know the audience and the shared vision of the entire production.
As a producer, you guide the creative process to achieve that shared vision. To feel the room is art. And just like art, it takes time to master. Should you cut or dissolve your lyrics? Depends on the mood. This affects your ability to connect to emotions and find a connection.
Walk-in music sets the tone before your very first cue. Another way to create or ruin a connection is the space between your cues. Too fast of a breath between cues and you have may have stepped on audience reaction or a soft mental settling.
Lastly, find a connection through lighting as well. As producer, you can help guide your lighting director to create clean looks, even distribution and a subtle blue color during a video play. In the end, to find a connection, feel it before you cue it.
Sometimes we produce media elements to support the live event. Need a fly-over of a lake for a background? Easy, grab a drone and shoot it. Don’t have a drone? Grab one online and download it. We are at a point where our pre-produced videos can have a stunning, film quality look without a massive budget. Films have synergy across all their elements. The camera shot, the music, the dialogue and the characters within those sets.
As producers, we need to find the same synergy when elements are live. Avoid shaky tripods, putting too many visual effects on your motion backgrounds, bad audio mixes, or stage that has a bunch of extra elements on it. Remove the clutter and make sure your message, across all your elements have synergy.
Distractions in the room will kill your connections and your mood. To be a great event producer, you need to be obsessed with eliminating distractions.
Ever noticed in Hollywood movies when a person walks up to a podium mic there’s always feedback? Why? I always hate that. I hate it for all FOH engineers in the world that aim for zero feedback. People won’t remember all the times it doesn’t feedback, they’ll only remember that one short moment that audio does feedback.
Do both screens match by color? Is there a 6-frame audio latency delay with video? How many times has someone asked you to turn down the subs? Right, I know it’s a little thing but people notice. Distractions are amplified within your environments. My biggest pet peeve is in lyrics; if a chorus repeats and the second graphic jumps slightly…somebody help me. I find so many distractions these days when I go to events, because a great producer is obsessed with eliminating them.
I produced an event in an arena last October where the tunnel to the dock was open to the arena. Some of the hired security guards were doing their job but also smoking and that smell made its way into the event. Talk about a distraction! I was distracted, so we put up some Pipe & Drape to help hold the foul odor from getting in the building. Distractions can interrupt your production and you may never recover. You can tell why this is another obsession of a great event producer.
Transitions, Transitions, Transitions!
This is a very important obsession in becoming a great event producer. Examine closely how each element supports the other and intertwine each for the sake of the message. A musical number followed by a video, a video in front of a keynote speaker, a prayer that is followed by a skit. Everything was great until the prayer and skit right?
You can damage a well produced moment by not doing a proper transition. The audience won’t have it. A comedy skit after a prayer better have a smooth transition for it to work and for us to not forget the solemn prayer. Transitions are key, so obsess over them as a producer!Transitions are key so obsess over them. Click To Tweet
I attended a New Artist Showcase at the Gospel Music Association’s annual event in 1991 and one of the bands was late. The emcee introduced the next act and no one came out. He paused and said they must be out getting a Diet Coke. Seconds later five very large, female southern gospel singers came on to stage.
Ouch! Two things to notice here. First, the group wasn’t prepared and second, the emcee embarrassed himself in front of the audience and had to apologize to the group. I can’t even remember what they sang or if they were any good. I only remember the Diet Coke comment and that was an unfortunate transition. Think before you transition, because bad transitions are engrained in people’s mind and can ruin your opportunity to hit a homerun.
A Leader Worth Being Followed.
You are the producer-leader. Lead your crew and give leadership for your client. For some of you, that client is your pastor or your worship leader. You are there because you have a clear way of directing the crew through the creative process of the shared vision. Be confident, and be obsessed with being worth of the follow of your team. Your crew needs you to lead. Your client has hired you to lead. So lead.
A leader worth following is one who is an exceptional communicator. They don’t allow for second-guessing. They are calm during chaos. They cover and protect their crew. A leader worth following also knows how to make in-game corrections.
A great event producer needs to be the star quarterback. If the star QB sees something in the defense they don’t like, then you call an audible. Typically, you’ll have three seconds to make that audible. Call the play on headset with confidence and a calming voice, and you’ll be that QB your team is waiting to follow. You have the plan; it’s now time for you to execute that plan and have enough control over the program should you need to make an audible. Be obsessed with becoming a leader worth being followed.Be obsessed with becoming a leader worth being followed Click To Tweet
Every good producer has an innate set of skills that develop naturally. You could have excellent camaraderie. Communicating could be your strength. Visually seeing the end results first and guiding the creative process is a gift. You could make excellent fish tacos and what crew doesn’t like great food! A weakness is just something people admit that they are working on.
Ultimately we serve a group of people and it is embodied inside us to produce with passion for the message to be profoundly received. With these natural set of skills and the above obsessions of a great event producer, you’ll quickly become among the best in the industry.
Now I’m craving a fish taco… haha. But seriously, great write-up and good advice. Obsess over the details, while putting the audience first. Will be sharing this article!
Very good article! It’s a great reminder of all the little things that go in to a successful event, and all the things that should not go into your event.
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