Content is King, but You’re the Choreographer

by Breese Roche

Human beings remember only 20% of what they read, but 80% of what they see. So it’s no surprise that interactive corporate events are said to be the most critical marketing channel for achieving business goals and elevating branding efforts. As we begin to emerge from the other side of the pandemic, many conferences, meetings and retreats are returning to in-person or at least hybrid events, providing ample opportunity for brand building and engagement. But how do you ensure that these events meet the mark and make the biggest impact? Having worked with the largest names in Silicon Valley, New York and everywhere in between, creating world-class experiences that generate demand, I can tell you that content is what it all boils down to. It is critical to understand what the client is trying to accomplish, what their marketing goals are for the event, then position yourself as more than just the Content Lead; think of yourself as the Theatrical Director. Allow me to explain.

These days, corporate events are more like productions and shows with theatrical qualities, so approach an event as though you are the director of a movie or a broadway play. Oversee the entire production and have someone who is responsible for the visibility across all work streams, making sure content themes are pulled across everything. This is a vital role that will add a ton of value for your content and increase effectiveness.

Become the content choreographer:
Approach content with an eye toward entertainment value

When you begin to plan out your content strategy and flow, think big and broad, as though you are putting on the greatest show or readying a Broadway production, to keep your audience engaged. Content is not just slide decks – it’s infinitely more.

The best way to guarantee interested attendees is by creating varied, engaging, and meaningful content. The content should be the pillar of the overall experience, weaving in every component from the speakers and presentations to the installations, exhibits and all other forms of content delivery. Content and creative teams should work hand-in-hand – don’t ever work in silos. This also means incorporating all elements of the event including video, graphics, lights, stage design and even seating.

  • Everything needs to flow together because each individual element contributes to the overall feel of the entire experience. Work to deliver an integrated perspective, threading a story that creates a holistic experience anchored to the content. This includes planning every movement on and off stage, how to turn written word into conversational spoken delivery, building in natural pauses and transition phrases, and give every single speaker (no matter how senior) full speaker training. Trust me – the investment will always pay off, because your content will flow seamlessly and draw audience members in immediately, so they leave feeling like they were an integral part of a movement.
  • Creative and varied details matter, and making sure that every detail aligns with the overall content goals will create a strong foundation for the event. Designing an exciting event can sometimes pose its challenges, but it is our job to turn every bit of content into an element of the holistic look, feel, and show extravaganza. Graphics, animations, videos and pre-taped segments are all tools that can and should be used to keep the momentum alive. People tire quickly when they are being ‘talked at’ for hours upon end. Mix up the content delivery. In addition to standard slides, add in a pre-record speaker or do an animated video to add diversity. Keeping attendees engaged requires some creative thinking, so think of content delivery mechanisms and movement on the stage or moving audience attention as ‘content choreography.’
  • Connect in multiple ways. The goal of any event is to meaningfully connect with the audience and as the entire world has learned, it is possible to connect with others virtually as well as in person. It is important to decide whether an event is best suited to be in-person or virtual – but get creative and be prepared to deliver content in multiple ways so you can easily pivot to hybrid if needed, and create long tail marketing opportunities. Remember that virtual should never mean just turning all live content digital. Instead, think about how the content will be experienced for those watching in the room versus those watching from home, and adjust its format and delivery. Just because something can be live, doesn’t always mean it should be. Consider what will deliver the biggest impact with the clearest and most memorable messaging.