20 August 2019

NOT ALL EXPERIENCE IS CREATED EQUAL – if someone with no prior cooking experience ate at a restaurant and then told you they consider themselves qualified to be a chef, you’d call them mad, maybe delusional though certainly confused. Yet it’s surprising just how common such a confused approach to qualified or relevant experience is in the event and exhibition world. Which, whether you realise it or not, hinders the effectiveness of people, teams and the live event itself.

A distinction needs to be made between content experience (the end result) and contextual experience (everything to create and deliver the content), and a balance found between the two. The difference is seldom understood and regularly confused. Two and a half minutes of video to explain and help…


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning. I’m a live event producer, designer and director. I talk a lot about getting the right team of people in place. And with any live event or exhibition or pavilion, or anything live at all, you need the right balance of what I call content and contextual experience.

All too often I see these easily confused, even by people with relevant experience. The content of a live event or exhibition is its purpose or message.

The context being everything required to bring that content to life. For example, a sporting event’s content, are the athletes, participants, sporting equipment, competition or sporting rules, and sport-specific requirements.

The contextual issues are money, venue, logistics, marketing, technology, infrastructure and similar.

A concert’s content is the artist or performers and their material along with any performances. Contextual issues, again are money, venue, logistics, marketing, technology, infrastructure and similar. And to give one more example, a conference’s content are the speakers on stage, their material, any activities, and the conference’s message or purpose. And again, the contextual issues are the same, money, venue, logistics, marketing, technology, infrastructure and similar.

So why is this so important?

Well, in my experience content and contextual experience is so often confused when it comes to putting together event teams or creating event businesses, or doing anything live at all.

For example, an athlete has an abundance of content experience, it’s what they do. But that doesn’t necessarily qualify them with the necessary contextual experience to produce and deliver a sporting event. Similarly, a producer who has an abundance of experience creating or delivering conferences or concerts, isn’t necessarily qualified to start writing speeches for a conference, or music for a concert.

This small detail with enormous consequences, can often get lost in translation when it comes to the politically charged, adrenaline and ego-fuelled excitement and drama starting a new event, putting a new team together, or starting a new business.

Make sure you get the balance and marriage of content and contextual experience sorted as soon as possible.

Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting time, money and effort, and driving everyone involved slightly mad, which is best avoided.

Anyway, I hope this is useful?

Any questions, just let me know.

Thanks for watching and I’ll speak to you again soon.