Friday, February 5, 2010

Why #EventProfs Should Think Like Writers

It is ALL about the story ... Trust me. As a screenwriter that has been editing and re-editing a comedy since early 2004, (Go Hemp Go!), there are never enough edits and always bright new ways you can tie the story back together in a more seamless fashion. As part of a fluid and forward thinking group of #Eventprofs, I'd like to toss the idea out there that the physical event and the event life-cycle itself should be treated as a story. What does this entail? Well, first and foremost it requires you to think like a writer. What does that mean?
  • Have a vision. Understand where your story begins, where it develops, where it peaks, and where the natural conclusion occurs. Also curate ways to continue the story. Think the hints we receive about sequels and how great stories leave us wanting more. Understand fully the major developments that deserve the most time, yet do not underestimate the smaller stories within the over-arching tale. If you spin a side story make sure it connects and adds to the overall vision. You are not writing 'skits', you are crafting a singular being, don't forget that.
  • Waste NOTHING - I'm not talking physical (but 'go Green' until your heart is content), but I am talking content. If a piece of content is created, edited, and deemed worthy, then be sure it is in congruence with your overall message. The smallest tidbits of info you offer to the 'viewer' must be re-used and re-introduced later. Why? Because this justifies the existence of that content. No info should live in a Silo, be introduced once and never brought back into the fold ... that's poor writing, and it's a waste.
  • Strive to create an emotional response and actionable item. Often I am at an event and the education portion might be well enough, but it stirs nothing. I leave not motivated by the content and certainly not driven to act on it. Get creative, think of ways that imports the attendees emotion directly into your story. I'm not talking about tugging on heart strings and getting people to fork over money for Haiti either. I am referring to being hyper-focused to your attendee pool aka your audience. Make the content and story VERY real for them and if you can, create an actionable item they can take WHILE IN THE MOMENT (Live) that drives your story home and makes it real for them.
I know this might be a funny thing to suggest to #eventprofs, but if you believe crafting a story is a MUST for your event and event life-cycle ... then educate yourself on how to do this best and read 'Story' by Robert McKee. It is a stellar book. Yes, it is written for screenwriters, but I am suggesting that if you run an event, you are a story teller, or at least you ought to be.

We've been blessed lately with the emergence of amazingly well written comedies in the form of TV sitcoms over the last few years. The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Community, Modern Family and a few others have shown the world that sitcoms are NOT dead. (BTW if you haven't watched Modern Family yet, please dive in here) Story crafting is alive and well and actually better than ever. Don't let your event be the next 'Jersey Shore' when it has the potential to be the next 'Seinfeld' instead.

What's your story?

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