Elle Chan, Co-Founder and CEO
Recently, I was thinking about what it means to create an event that truly engages audiences and changes the trajectory of a brand, product, or company. Synonyms for “engage” include Interest. Occupy. Fascinate. Immerse. Intrigue. Involve. Attract. These are all great objectives for any corporate event.
Engagement is the job of the Executive Producer. To create brand experiences, which is the art of engaging attendees. Effective production surrounds them with messages, sights, sounds, and feelings that inspire action. Attendees want to be part of the story, to participate in the experience, and to be moved and touched by what they see, hear, and feel. Attendees expect seamless experiences on stage, online, on the app, and afterward. Every event element must be designed, created, and orchestrated to play its part in the experience – start to finish. At the heart of this is precise, well-architected, and well-executed production.
Trademark is known for event production from the first idea through the last box at load-out. We learned it from the movie industry, which influences our view of quality production and is a foundational element of our approach. This blog is about what it takes to engage event audiences through production.
What’s The Story?
What’s the brand story? Does the customer at a user conference imagine how their lives, jobs, and communities are better because of the product or service? Does the salesperson who attends SKO understand their role in the company’s charge to overtake the competition and make the revenue goal? Does the philanthropist at a fundraiser see how they become part of the cause? The first thing experience designers should explore is the story. Understanding how the attendee experiences the story helps producers create immersive experiences that engages and inspires them to care.
The story gives producers the framework for space and stage design, lighting, sound, audio/visual style, the app, the online experience, and the overall tone and impact of the event. It informs presentations, entertainment, signage, catering, networking, and party experiences. With the story in mind, producers and companies imagine an outcome and set goals that can be measured by attendee response, commitment to goals, social metrics, and reviews.
Immersive Spaces and Stages
The event’s atmosphere sets the tone for the experience. It begins with selecting the right venue and space that can play the perfect backdrop to the event vision. Experiences begin at registration, entry for the first time, or engagement with the app. Like the first pulse-driving scenes of an action movie, the visual and audio tone of the event is established in the first few seconds of the experience. We’ve found that an immersive experience that envelops the attendee has the most significant impact and creates the desired reaction in the attendee. The space and stage designs should amplify the event story, with elements coming to life at every sight, sound, or interaction.
Amplifying the Message
Sounds, music, and voices are the universal backdrop to the presented content. A SKO would lack energy if relaxing spa music were a prelude to the presentation by the CEO. A hard-driving rock anthem is inappropriate at a fundraising event designed to spotlight urban blight or environmental ruin. Music, sound effects, and sonic textures are universal production elements to every performance space, presentation, meal, party, session interlude, etc.
Beyond sound design, quality sound delivery can make or break an event. Speakers need to be heard clearly. Music and ambient sound should accompany, not overpower. Expert sound designers and producers can punctuate the brand story with the precise delivery of emotion at the perfect moment, space, and level. Sound is also a regulated event element. Be sure you understand any restrictions or time limits related to event sounds–including entertainment. An experienced sound designer and sound engineer are essential to the event team and can navigate event requirements, local regulations, and rules for the perfect performance.
Like sound, light creates emotion. Stark fluorescent light creates a straight, upright, clinical feel. Soft amber and darkness create a moody, relaxed feel. Lights can deliver information, showcase images, and focus on speakers, ideas, presentations, or displays. Sound and light work together to create an integrated AV experience. Light and sound designers collaborate to create the visual and audio backdrop that the mood and content require. One falls flat without the other, so be sure to work with AV teams that know and understand one another.
Some cities, venues, hotels, and other spaces require permits for certain kinds of lighting and sound. Be sure to work with an event producer who understands the nuances of light and sound elements at your event.
Powerful Narratives With Video and VR/AR
Video has long been part of the event toolbox. Stories can be told succinctly and be packed with emotion as sights and sounds touch attendees’ imaginations. It can be delivered in hundreds of form factors, from large LED walls to smartphone video. Immersive surround sound and video can give attendees a 360º view of an experience, a faraway location, or a production. Adding augmented reality via smartphone, kiosk, or virtual reality with VR headsets allows event producers to tell stories and influence attendees. Video and AR/VR can be costly if not done right. Be sure to understand the exact role and message your video will deliver.
Executive Producers translate the client’s vision into an actionable event plan and timeline. They’re responsible for bringing the vision to life while considering every detail of the experience and every unique talent and team member required in its execution. The executive producer is the conductor of the event orchestra and the ultimate decision-maker about the details of each event element. They’re responsible for the strategy, budget, schedule, and quality of the delivery. Under their leadership, each event element will come together at the right time, with the right execution, and have the right effect on the overall outcome of the event.