Friday, January 12, 2007

Entertain the Audience You're With

I attended a luncheon at noon today hosted by a local civic association and the keynote speaker was an architect who was going to talk about the many changes happening in this particular corner of Orange County.

Just for background -- Orange County, CA is running out of square acres to advance the suburban sprawl, so instead of building outward, the OC is beginning to build upward. In the last several months multiple high-rise condo projects have started or been announced. Here in the OC, it's a big deal. And three of the announced high-rises are going up in a three block area smack in the middle of the territory represented in the audience of today's speaker. Back to the lunch and lecture....

The speaker had about 30 minutes. He started with a history lesson in the growth of cities showing pictures of villages behind timber walls, then talked a bit on the ethos of man's desire to leave a mark. Next he talked about evolving skylines with pictures of multiple cities around the country stopping along the way with commentary on architectural styles and aesthetics (We're now 20 minutes into the speech). Following our tour of city skylines he arrived in California spending eight minutes talking about the history of Los Angeles and San Francisco. With only a few minutes remaining he finally got to what everyone in the room was really interested in -- the giant towers about to be constructed and the significant changes they would bring.

But wait... we needed a quick history of this little corner of the OC first. ARRGH! At last we see the first pictures of what the buildings would look like. But on the second of these slides he talked for a minute or so about what the view would be like from the upper floors (he was of the opinion that east-facing was more dramatic then west).

By now his time was up and the emcee has stepped to the side of the dais to signal an end. Our speaker, commenting that he was about out of time stated that he still had several slides but would go through them quickly. It turns out quickly meant he stood silently while flipping through the pictures on-screen -- about one second per slide, no commentary. What he flipped through was the meat of what everyone came to see! Double-ARRGH!

Today I learned a lot about the history of high-rises, the technology of building with large glass surfaces, the ethos of man, but next to nothing about the great changes about to happen in my back yard.

Lesson: Play to the audience you are with, not to the audience in your head!

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