Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Great Events Require a Script -- for Everyone!

Being trapped in an audience while a sponsor, presenter or VIP rambles on in an endless commercial or self-promotion is a worst-case scenario no one enjoys! But this nightmare is all too common. Too many event organizers put together an event time line with blocks of time portioned out to different speakers -- just tell the speaker he/she will have "this much time" and then turn them loose at the microphone. Definitely a recipe for boredom!

Like so many of my colleagues I attend a lot of events -- breakfasts, lunches, receptions and dinners. I have sat through fifteen minute commercials that on the schedule where slotted for three minutes. I have listened to poor presenters as they stumbled over the same simple material three different ways and wondered when the pain would end; "Are my ears bleeding yet?"

The truth is that 99.9% of us (including me) need help when we are placed in front of an audience, and the best thing a marketer can do is carefully craft a succinct message for the speaker, and hold them to it.

This year I am the chair of the events committee for a great Southern California professionals association. One of the earliest discussion we had was about how much time would be devoted the obligatory association message, sponsor recognitions and event introductions. We agreed that these routine parts of every event should not last more than five minutes. Five. Period. That means bringing sponsors on stage, doing the shout-out about belonging to the association, and any other administrative details that need to happen from the podium.

To accomplish this aggressive goal every person that reaches the stage needs a script, not just a estimated time to talk.

It's hard to put this type of discipline in place, but it is so necessary! Yet it does offer the marketers an opportunity to craft wonderful messages and frees the speakers to relax and enjoy a moment in the spotlight.

My advise to marketers is that you script every word, time everything, and focus on making every moment a less painful experience -- just by taking control of what your audience will hear.

Wouldn't it be great if every event was planned this way?