TRANSPOSE FOR MORE CREATIVITY

TRANSPOSE FOR MORE CREATIVITY

5 May 2020

WANT MORE CREATIVITY? The quest for new ideas, better creativity and innovation is relentless, and as we come out of this crisis, there’ll be no let-up.

Favouring practicality over simply waiting or wishful thinking, I’ve put together another two-parter. No fluff or holistic hyperbole – just tangible, simple ideas and suggestions, useful in this time of reflection and reinvention to find, create or nurture more creativity.

Whether you’re a brand, agency or freelancer, you have a wealth of opportunity and possibilities… right now. This first episode takes 5 minutes to look at something called transpositioning. Probably one of the easiest ways to get the creative juices flowing and spark ideas.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer, and Director.

In these times of isolated uncertainty, there’s plenty we can all be doing and plenty of opportunities that can be embraced. As we come out of this crisis, people are inevitably going to be wanting more creativity, creative working, ideas, and everyone’s favourite word, innovation.

I’m not going to start a debate about what constitutes good and bad creativity, but if you’re a brand, government, agency or even an individual, a freelancer, for example, looking for more or better creativity, how do you actually go about this? How do you become more creative, or find creativity or nurture it?

Well, there are a gazillion ways.

In this two-part video series, though, we’ll look at two of the simplest approaches perhaps best suited to these current times of change.

Two approaches which are both easy to adopt and often overlooked. In this first video of this two-parter, we’ll be looking at something called transpositioning.

Creativity doesn’t just happen, it needs to be nurtured, nourished and needs stimulation. Like a plant, add sunlight, water and nutrients, and you get flowers. Yet many in creative fields stick to their silos with little to no external or different stimulation. There are designers who only design, graphic designers who only do graphic stuff, producers who only produce, managers who only manage, creative directors who only direct, digital people who only do digital stuff. You get the gist.

It’s common in companies, where people are tasked to think outside the box, as long as they stay within their box. It’s common in agencies, where different departments do just that, departmentalise different talents and skill sets. And it’s common within individuals, freelancers, for example, where people stick to doing what they do and what they know.

If you, or people you have working for you or companies or people you engage constantly do the same thing all the time, you’re going to get the same results. Now, that sounds obvious, but it’s often the norm. If you want different results, or to spark ideas or to improve creativity, try transpositioning.

Have people try different jobs, roles, crafts and disciplines. I’m not talking about collaboration here and working with people, I’m talking about actually doing and trying different things, getting your hands dirty. Transposing from one role or skill to another. The act of seeing, or feeling, how other things are done, gaining new perspectives, seeing challenges from different perspectives or just having the freedom to play in a different arena or with different tools can be powerful, on many levels.

If you’re an individual, a freelancer, for example, with a specific talent, an event designer, for example, try your hand at lighting design, try sound design, try graphic design, try developing something digital, try your hand at architecture, or ceramics, or sculpture, or pyrotechnic design or everything and anything else. It will open your mind, it will give you new ideas. And it’s not hard to find people, other freelancers who would want to try what you do. Swap roles on real or imaginary projects. And in the current climate, if you’re struggling to find work or things to do, who knows where this could lead? What do you have to lose?

If you run or work in an agency, move people around. Have the design team working in the senior management, production or account management team to see how they would approach responding to a brief, managing a client or holding together a team of creatives. In turn, have the senior management team, your board, producers or project managers try graphic design, 3D design, digital development, lighting design, drawing or creative direction. If you have a design studio, get people swapping roles. 2D people trying 3D roles and vice versa. Have the marketing or PR team trying their hand at designing, and vice versa. And don’t restrict yourself to your agency either, there’s an entire supply chain of skilled craftspeople, choreographers, technicians, suppliers and creatives you can transpose with, and they in turn would also likely benefit from trying things on your side of the fence too. Mix it up.

If you’re a company or brand, who does events or commissions events or does other creative work, similarly, have your team or people transpose roles, either internally or with your agencies or trusted partners. The aim here is not to become capable of doing these other roles or skills, it’s merely to spark ideas, enlightenment.

Throughout my career, I’ve constantly tried different things in different sectors and in different fields, just as experiments. Now, most of those have clearly failed in so far as they’re not good enough to see the light of day. But none of them failed in so far as they’ve increased my creativity and my curiosity. The enlightenment that comes from trying to design a new pyrotechnic, or code something digital or just trying something way out of my normal field of view is incredible. As an added bonus, it also results in enormous empathy with what others need, do and experience.

Singular skills and singular thinking is pre-COVID thinking. Transpositioning, try it.

As I said, creativity doesn’t just happen, it needs nurturing by everyone involved. Try transpositioning for an hour, a day, a week, whatever works. And just once, frequently or build it into your culture as we emerge from the current crisis with everyone looking for better value, new ideas and creativity.

It needn’t cost anything, and could lead almost anywhere.

In the second of this two-parter video series, we’ll be looking at the differences between curation and creation, or curating versus creativity. And if you’re a brand or agency genuinely interested in developing new ideas or creativity rather than re-purposing and assembling existing products, services and ideas, the realistic approaches to make this happen.

In the meantime, I’d love any thoughts and questions.

Have you tried transpositioning, even if you’ve not called it that, or do you plan to?

And if you think anyone else would find this useful, please, feel free to share it.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching, and I’ll speak to you again soon.


HAS THE MUSIC STOPPED?

HAS THE MUSIC STOPPED?

3 May 2020

An endless stream of articles, posts and conversations with similar questions dominate at the moment – “Is it all over?”, “Will life ever be the same?”, or… “Has the music stopped.” Personal and professional challenges dominate at the moment, and it’s easy to only see the doom. I don’t have a crystal ball, but do have 200,000 years of human behaviour history to fall back on to see the enormous opportunities that lie ahead. Yes there will be turmoil, but what choice do we really have? Give up? Sit and wait? Or grab and create opportunities? If, like me, you’re up for making things happen, I prefer practicality and creativity over mere wishful thinking – so some analysis and actual suggestions and ideas…

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning. I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer, and Director.

Now, if you work in live entertainment, or sport, or events, or marketing or any live creative sector at all, you’ll have seen all manner of articles and posts, and had numerous conversations with a similar theme recently, will life ever be the same again? Is it all over, or frankly, has the music stopped?

And for all of us, myself included, there have been all manner of personal and professional challenges over recent weeks.

The music has not stopped, though. It’s merely paused, or slowed a little.

However, it’s also easy to talk ourselves, life and the world down and only see the doom.

A common narrative at the moment is the need to pull together and work together. And I agree – wholeheartedly, but I’m a creator, though. So, practicality and creativity resonate with me far more than just wishful thinking. Let’s look at human nature and human behaviour.

Elliott Waves.

If you’re not familiar with Elliott Wave theory, Google is your friend here.

They’re essentially a simple and largely accepted representation of human nature and often used to predict trading and financial cycles. First, there’s a short flurry of interest, wave one. Then a nervousness, wave two. Then, the realisation it’s all okay and a huge burst of excitement, usually the biggest wave, wave three. Then, the party seems like it’s over, wave four. But no, there’s still a little more to make, take or do, a final rally, wave five. And then, there’s the crash, the party really is over. The market, sentiment and human behaviour and interest dive and retrace. And then, there’s a period of despair and capitulation.

And then, we start again with that first flurry of interest, and the pattern repeats. The markets have been on a high for years. A crash of some sort was inevitable.

This is human nature, human nature never really changes. Habits, preferences and some behaviours, sure, but human nature, no.

People will always want to meet, greet, show off, perform, entertain and engage face to face, live. As long as humans have egos and emotions, and until every sense and emotion can be stimulated artificially, this is how humans will exist.

There is no evidence in the entire history of the human race, wars aside, that humans have stopped doing these things for very long at all.

Let’s look at some recent or recent-ish history. The Spanish flu in 1918 was followed by economic turmoil and then, the twenties, a post-war period of economic growth and prosperity. The Asian flu in 1957 was again followed by turmoil, and then, the sixties, essentially, a decade of cultural revolution.

It would be easy to find reasons why those pandemics were in slightly different circumstances to where we find ourselves today. To do so, though, would just be wanting to find reasons why things will be different for the first time, in about 200,000 years.

Look at the waves again. For sure, we’re going to go through a period of pain, potentially massive upheaval and anguish. It’s just part of the cycle. And I’m sure, mass transit, mass gatherings, and mass anythings are going to take a while to return. I’m sure there will be massive transfers of wealth as the old world order is replaced with the new. And I’m sure confidence and frivolity will take time to recover, but it will come.

What will almost certainly come to an end, certainly in the short term, are pointless and poor value live events.

Exhibitions with questionable value, conferences with content that could have been delivered purely digitally, far more effectively, and events that could have just been photoshoots.

Live events and experiences with more value, though, more creativity and that are more worthwhile, will, or should be, the new normal, something I wholeheartedly endorse and look forward to.

And what choice do you or we really have? We can give up, we can follow or wait, or we can make things happen.

As I said, I’m a creator, someone who rarely settles, and someone who embraces change, whether it’s of my own making or forced upon us.

If like me, you have no interest in giving up, or waiting or simply following others either, some ideas and suggestions.

Firstly, if you’re a brand or government or event owner, if you want to make your live ventures more wondrous or worthwhile, improve your or your team’s expertise. Look at how you can find better creativity or create it. And you have time now to fix how you conceive and procure live events and exhibitions. Whether you realise it or not, for the most part, this has been broken since long before the pandemic hit. More often than not, simply creating the illusion of finding you the best value or solutions. You have time now to improve all of this. And if not now, when?

If you’re an agency, you have the opportunity to look at how you can be more agile. You can look at becoming more channel-agnostic and creative, or how to find and nurture more creativity and ideas and work out where and how you do, or could, offer the most value. Do you have staff producing, managing, creating or designing live events that have no stage or theater school training, or even basic knowledge of stage-craft, you have time, an abundance of time, to improve their knowledge and expertise. Which can only lead to better work, more ideas, and perhaps better value.

If you’re a supplier, your knowledge and expertise is currently incredibly valuable as people look to do more for less and more creatively. Get your knowledge, one of your biggest assets, out there now, even if it’s just the basics.

If you’re an individual, a freelancer, for example, work out what you’re good at and what value you offer. Previous job titles may become redundant, and the places you used to work may cease to exist or change. But if you have talent or expertise, work out where it’s most valuable, or develop your own offers and ideas.

Wherever you sit, whoever you are, there’s a ton of work that can be done.

How?

Well, to get you thinking, I’ve put out videos about how you can improve your knowledge and expertise. I’ve a video series, The Facts Of Live, an abridged version of my book by the same name, looking at how to conceive, procure, and produce live events and exhibitions to create the greatest value and impact. And I have videos coming out about how to find or nurture better creativity, and there will be more to come.

All this stuff is free.

And whether you look at my stuff or anyone else’s, if you want to be more proactive, the opportunities to do so are immense. And the world is inherently going to value those offering the most value as we emerge from this crisis.

And as history has proven, emerge we will.

If you think anyone else would benefit from seeing or hearing this, feel free to share it.

The music has not stopped, it has merely paused, and will be playing at full speed again.


DO YOU CARE?

DO YOU CARE?

28 April 2020

Episode 4 of: The Facts of Live – The Series: Do You Care? In this episode, we look at the key ingredient that keeps live events moving, extracts the most value and keeps them moving: leadership. Live events are about people, and it’s people, not processes that create them and get them over the line. As we look at in this episode, the pressures those working with, in and around live events can face means that leadership needs to start and end with empathy. You need to care. Like… actually care. Do you care?

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning. I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer, and Director.

In this fourth episode of The Facts Of Live, The Series, we’ll be looking at the key ingredient that keeps live events moving: leadership, and how it’s the difference between live events being either cumbersome or creative, having either excessive costs or being cost effective, and being either feats of endurance or enjoyable.

All of which have a direct effect on the impact of doing anything live.

Live events exist in a unique environment. You’ve got a myriad of issues, people, and organisations to glue together seamlessly against a backdrop and scope that’s constantly changing, and you won’t always be in complete control of. You’ve typically got a fixed deadline and everyone’s watching, you’re completely exposed.

The only other industries with a similar emotional dynamic, though more serious consequences, are perhaps the military and emergency services. Where, what’s happening here, right now is the only thing that matters. The military and emergency services though have far greater support networks and redundancy than most events do.

Egos, personalities and politics are also an intrinsic part of any live event too – given they’re essentially about showing off in some way, shape or form, making the unique set of circumstances even more volatile and unpredictable. The pressure this can cause means even the simplest, most mundane tasks can tip people over the edge. Which is why live event leadership starts and finishes with empathy. Real empathy that is, not just a random collection of words and actions strung together to create the illusion of empathy.

If you are in any leadership role at all, that is – you’ve got people reporting in to you or rely upon you, your primary role as a leader is one of support.

Take this example of a team structure, chart or organogram. We’ve all seen countless versions of these. These are supposed to show who’s in charge of what and who reports in to who. Someone is the client or owns the live event, then there’s someone leading the venture, and a bunch of managers perhaps reporting into them and beneath them staff, crew and subcontractors. From a leadership perspective though, these charts all have one fundamental flaw… they’re upside down.

Those on the ground, doing the work, are the people that are going to make you look good, without them, you have nothing. You want them to be enthused, happy, informed, and clear on what they need to do. They need to be supported. In turn, those managing them also need clear direction and need to know they have someone to fall back upon to. As does the person in charge, even if you’re the client or event owner, you need enough empathy and understanding to know what those you’ve brought on board are going to go through in the unique environment live events exist within.

After all, leadership starts at the top, the very top.

It still amazes me that anyone who’s worked with, in, or around live events for any longer than, maybe 5 minutes, is still amazed or surprised when things change.

Your easiest path to a successful live event is, of course, a straight line. You’re never going to have a straight line though. Change and not being fully in control is the only constant, and as it’s a constant, it’s perfectly manageable. Given your typically fixed deadline though, you cannot afford for change to delay things, it’s just not an option. If you’re in any leadership role one of your roles is to quarantine those relying on you from that chaos. Your role is to run into the chaos head-on, and on their behalf, separate fact from fiction and requirements from rumors. You then provide clear direction and support, leadership. If the chaos is quarantined you remain on track.

If anyone you are leading is doing the wrong thing, or doing the wrong work, or they’re confused, it’s down to you.

It’s on you, no one else.

Live events need a strategy or ethos in place that I call, “dictatorial leadership and democratic management.” Now I use the term dictatorial affectionately. I’m not suggesting you hire people who are going to start reigning aggression on all around them.

When you, your team, or your agencies are creating and producing a live event, you’re likely to have a team that need to work together collaboratively and in a fair, open, encouraging, and motivated environment. They need to feel safe airing their ideas and issues, knowing their opinions will be considered. This is how people in positive, modern environments are happy working.

A democracy is all well and good. But democracy has one major drawback. And that drawback is democracy’s inability to hit deadlines or move quickly. As I said earlier, live events typically have a fixed deadline. Everyone is watching, and it’s almost impossible to be in complete control of everything contributing towards success. When good and proper democratic working practices mean key milestones are being missed, or worse, your final event deadline is at risk, a democratic workplace overseen by well-intentioned and qualified managers is the exact opposite of what you need.

It is at this point, you need a friendly dictator. Someone able, willing, and empowered to make authoritative decisions without anywhere near enough information to do so, and armed, not with weapons of mass destruction, but with experience and a sixth sense to tell, lead, and guide everyone involved with whatever it is they deem necessary to get the job done or the problem solved.

Without dictatorial leadership, when it’s needed, time and effort will be being wasted as milestones arrive and then whizz past. And people then try and backtrack to catch up, causing more chaos that you can ill afford and that you’re supposed to be quarantining, protecting the people you’re leading, there in your care.

A craving for certainty and a fear of failure can engulf a live event’s planning and development in process and paperwork. The resulting bureaucracy though can pose a far bigger risk to your event than the risks that you were trying to mitigate with the paperwork in the first place. Especially, as that immovable deadline of your live event accelerates towards you.

You need some process and paperwork of course, but it’s about the right balance of process and competency. It is people, competent people, that make live events happen and who can make the snap and impulsive decisions necessary, often without anywhere near enough information, but using their sixth sense, to get an event over the line. People are far more valuable and useful than any process or piece of paperwork will ever be.

It stands to reason therefore, does it not, that they should be your number one priority?

I have led and been directly accountable for live events with just a couple of people working on them, through to events with over 20,000 working on them. And I can assure you, that empathetic leadership is, categorically, your best approach.

Once your team are supported, and importantly, actually feel supported rather than just hear words that sound supportive and once they freed up from the chaos and bureaucracy you’ve quarantined them from that might otherwise distract them and create unnecessary pressures. You watch how ideas, creativity and innovation flow more freely. Costs will reduce, creativity will flow, people will enjoy themselves, everyone will have the clarity and direction they need, and your live event will have way more impact.

You need to care about your people and they need to believe you care, and yes, that takes time and effort. But it’s surprisingly straightforward, yet so often overlooked.

Do you care?

In this series so far, we’ve looked over the value of live events, how live events are best structured, how to start them, and the leadership needed to keep them moving.

In the next episode, we start talking about money. And we’ll be starting with four words which are universally confused and the root cause of so much unnecessary financial angst.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next episode.


IN THE BEGINNING

IN THE BEGINNING

21 April 2020

Episode 3 of: The Facts of Live – The Series, In The Beginning.

This episode covers: the tipping point, 100 different ways of starting a live event or exhibition off – and why 100 ways is bad, the obstacles in the way of the best way and the value of content and context experience, at the right time, to reduce risk and create more impact.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer and Director.

In the first episode of this series we looked at how to make sure a live event or an exhibition or anything live has some value and some worth, and in the second episode we looked at how to best structure it to actually create and deliver that value. In this third episode, we’re looking at how things begin. How to begin them. And how not to! If you want to create the most value with a live event or anything live, this video is about how to get started, now armed of course, with the relevant background information.

Whether you’re in the sports, arts, entertainment, marketing communication, government or the not-for-profit business, creating the most value and most impact with a live event starts right at the beginning, at its genesis, with the foundations that underpin it and key principles. Or as I decided to call them: “The Facts Of Live”, the name of the book and this free video series.

The decisions made, whether qualified or not, at the genesis of a live event, tend to have a far greater impact on that live event than decisions made by you or anyone else you bring on board further down the live. In the beginning, there is just an idea, this is the genesis of a live event, and at this point, there is a key moment I call the Tipping Point. This is the few seconds or maybe few minutes after a live event, exhibition or pavilion tips from being unspoken about or largely theoretical to something that needs consideration.

For example, the moment a new product launch first gets considered, the moment an artist decides they want to go on tour, the moment a government decides it wants to bid for the rights to host a major event, the moment a group of people decide they want to organise a political demonstration or the moment when a brand or country starts considering creating a pavilion for a major event or an expo.

Typically, the decisions made in the seconds, and I mean seconds, or moments after the tipping point, can set a live event, or an exhibition or a pavilion down a path that is almost irreversible, irrespective whether it’s actually the best path or not. Quite often, it’s not the best path.

Through nothing other than a lack of understanding, unlike other sectors or disciplines such as marketing, or architecture, or medicine or law for example, there’s just no common ground widely understood when it comes to live events.

If I ask 100 people how they’d go about getting a building designed and built at the point they decided they wanted one, the tipping point, I’d get 100 similar answers. If I asked 100 people how they’d go about getting a live event or an exhibition or a pavilion designed and delivered, and the choices they’d make at that tipping point, I’d get 100 different answers. I know this as I hear them most days!

People generally know they need a doctor if they are ill, or a cook if they are hungry, or a lawyer for legal advice or an architect if they need a building designed and they know, broadly how to go about getting them, yet when it comes to live events, most people either do what they’ve always done, rely on hearsay or invent their own processes, meaning, results will vary, and not always in a good way.

With there being no common understanding or accepted path forwards, this makes this tipping point the most critical, most riskiest and potentially the most expensive part of any live event’s life cycle. In the beginning, right at this tipping point, you need two things and two things only other than the idea itself, relevant content and contextual experience on hand to guide and to catch the idea and set it on the right path.

Skip back to episode two if you’d like, for a review on what content and context are, but in summary, the content of an event is everything people see or do and the context is everything involved in delivering that content.

You wouldn’t start the design of a building until an architect was on board, or fighting a legal case without a lawyer or seek surgery without first talking to a doctor, you’d seek relevant experience. Yet so many people, brands and organisations attempt to set about conceiving, creating, procuring or producing live events without relevant expertise.

Often, in my view because it’s not seen as a recognisable skill or craft in its own right like other sectors or disciplines, and as we looked at in the last episode, it’s clearly a specialist craft, or discipline. The result of this lack of awareness is that people and organisations can simply make up what they think is best. Sometimes this works, but those instances are extremely rare. Why take the risk?

Many organisation’s procurement and governance guidelines, or practices can often hinder getting the right content and context experience at the right time. Typically, because the relevant talent is not in house or there’s no budget to pay for it. It is extremely common, and almost seen as normal, for an organisation to want to know the cost of any live event before engaging anyone to start working on it in any way.

At one level, this logic is understandable: as a client, you want to buy or start something and want to know what it will cost so you can contract or start it without exposing yourself to any risk, and so, a traditional tender or RFP is often issued looking for a turnkey solution. This is a flawed approach. What you’re effectively doing here is asking people for a picture of an event or a design and detailed costs, yet to work that out they need to do most of the work to design and develop it in order to then develop a budget, to win the right to have the opportunity to start designing and developing it. It’s a common, yet insane paradox!

Add to this, the fact that, and I don’t care what anyone else says, but unless you’re looking for a formulaic event, there is no way on earth anyone can know the cost of an event before design, planning and development is well progressed, long past any procurement process. Ideas can be developed, and budgets can be estimated in far easier and more robust ways than with a full-blown formal process that usually does the exact opposite of finding you the best value, ideas and solutions. You just need relevant content and contextual experience.

I know I sound like a scratched record, but without it, you’ve got little chance of more creativity, or creating more value and impact. Without it, you’ll be wasting your own and other peoples’ time, money and effort. Live events, exhibitions and pavilions, in fact anything live, if they’re worth doing, they’re worth doing properly.

The repercussions of the tiny decisions made at the tipping point, be they good or bad, become amplified as time progresses and it’s extremely difficult to reset them in any practical sense. The right content and contextual advice therefore have considerably more value at the beginning of this process than when such expertise is more typically brought on board, long after the tipping point.

That value is in reducing financial, practical or reputational risks, as those with the right experience will know what’s coming, no need for endless meetings or committees to try and work it out.

That value is also in knowing what things will and won’t cost, or what will be required, or the broad direction of travel. They will know what’s going to come out of the woodwork, they have that sixth sense.

That value is in knowing what structure will best create or deliver more creativity and more impact.

That value, if it is the right experience, will also be able to lead or guide any procurement efforts in a way that actually finds you the best value and solutions, which most event procurement does not. The procurement side of things we’re going to look at in a later episode. Robust, proven procurement practices that work, at any level or scale, and get you what you need when you need it.

In the meantime though, at the very least, make sure you keep everything as open and as flexible as possible in these beginning stages, at the tipping point.

Don’t let marketing, procurement, finance, risk management, branding, politics, egos or anyone or anything else steer that idea down any particular path until you have both relevant content and contextual experience on board or to hand.

As I said, this tipping point is the most critical, the riskiest and most expensive part of any live event’s lifecycle. It’s why I wrote the book, it’s why I’m doing this free video series and it’s why I’m happy to answer any questions.

Don’t mess this stage up

In this video series so far, we’ve looked at the value of a live event or an exhibition, how they are best structured and the importance of getting them started in the right way.

In the next episode we’ll be looking at how they’re driven forwards through the myriad of challenges, we’ll be looking at leadership. Live event leadership starts and ends with empathy. It is everything.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching and I’ll see you in that next episode.


WHO'S IN CHARGE?

WHO’S IN CHARGE?

15 April 2020

Episode 2 of: The Facts of Live – The Series, ‘Who’s In Charge?’

This episode covers: content and context, choosing between easy or hard, a simple structure clarifying who’s in charge and common objections.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning. I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer, and Director. And in the first episode of this series we sense checked the point of going to the effort of producing an event or exhibition in the first place. If you’ve not watched it, it would be useful if you did, and if you have, we’ll assume there is some merit to your idea – and your event, exhibition, or pavilion, or anything live is worth doing.

As we looked at briefly in episode one, all live events, regardless of their type, scale, or purpose are, at their heart, theater. You’ve a stage or performance space, you’ve something happening in that space and you have an audience, it’s theater. Which is a craft that’s been perfected over thousands of years, since Egyptian times at least.

Given all live events are essentially theater, it means we can find some commonality, and there are common ways of being able to conceive, procure, and produce them more easily. The first thing they have in common are two words that I use constantly and if understood correctly can make life so much easier. Those two words are content and context.

Content is the purpose of a live event and what happens in or at it.

Context is everything required to deliver the content.

For example, firstly, a sporting event. Content is the sport itself, the athletes or participants, the equipment they need, and the rules they abide by. Contextual issues are the finances involved, marketing, the venue or locations, the complexity and scale, the technology and infrastructure or overlay, the logistics and operations and everything else involved.

Alternatively, take a music event. The content is the singer, the band, their material and performances. Context, again, is the finance, marketing, venue, complexity and scale, the technical side of things, logistics and similar.

A conference, the content is the speakers on stage, any material they present, and the message behind the conference, it’s purpose. Context, again, finance, marketing, the venue, complexity and scale, technical, and anything else needed to make it happen.

A final example, a pavilion for an expo perhaps. Content is the building itself, the architectural design, and the experiences and activities within them. The building and experiences need to work in harmony and should be designed together as one, and therefore, together are the content side of things. Context, again, the money, any marketing and PR, location, technical, construction and infrastructure, logistics and anything else needed.

When we look at them in this way, we can see that all live events share more than they differ, which can make our lives much easier. As we also looked at in episode one, there isn’t the common understanding of the craft or discipline of live events in the same way there is with other disciplines such as medicine or architecture or law where, by and large, everyone understands the best approach even if they’re not experts in those respective fields.

When it comes to conceiving, procuring, or producing live events, people tend to make their own approaches up, or perhaps rely on marketing or procurement, rely on hearsay or what’s most common in their sector. This leads to higher costs, more complications, and less creativity, and reducing a live event’s value and impact. It’s crazy and completely unnecessary.

You have a choice.

The hard way by making up what you think might be best or assuming common practices are best practices. Or the easy way, taking proven simplest approach possible.

Which would you prefer, easy or hard?

Whether it’s the Olympic Games, a festival, an experiential brand event, a conference, an exhibition, whatever it is, there are four key questions, and if those questions can’t be answered almost immediately by anyone working on an event or in that event, there is no way on Earth that live event is being conceived, developed, planned or produced as efficiently and effectively as it might do, which reduces its creativity, reduces the value, and reduces its impact. Those four questions come down to structure.

Question One. Which one person is the overall lead ultimately responsible for delivering the live event? They need relevant contextual experience of having led events with similar contextual requirements before in similar circumstances. They don’t necessarily need to understand the content or the purpose of that live event or the exhibition or the pavilion.

Question Two. Which one person is the overall lead for all content or creative direction? They need to have relevant content experience. This might be a Brand Manager or Creative Director for a brand or business event, the competition or sporting director for a sports event, or for a concert it would almost certainly be the artist.

Question Three. Which one person is responsible for the physical delivery and production of everything? They need relevant contextual experience of having delivered similar before in similar circumstances.

Question Four. Which one person is responsible for all the logistics and operations requirements? For example, travel, accommodation, catering, ticketing, accreditation, and all the rest of it. They need relevant contextual experience, again, of having delivered similar before in similar circumstances.

The boundaries between these four roles can of course blur, but getting the right team in place and the right marriage between content and contextual experience is critical.

These four roles could all be the same person on a small event. I’ve done them all before on smaller events. Or they may have massive committees or teams involved, but ultimately there needs to be a directly accountable single individual in each of these four roles, not a committee.

If you have a larger event with many parts, perhaps a festival, for example, with multiple stages, or a multi-sport event, or a pavilion with different spaces, or a summit with a conference, dinner, and exhibition, you simply split the event down into clear sub-events. Identify who’s taking on each of the four roles for each sub-event, and then have them all report into an overall project lead and an overall content or creative lead.

Again, some people can take on more than one role across these structures if that’s viable – skillset, time, capacity, and geography-wise.

If you’re the client or buyer, you could have this team report into you or you may even be one of these core team members. The Producer if you’re right for the role or the content lead, perhaps, if you’re a Brand Manager, but make sure this structure is clear and unambiguous.

The focus here is on roles, not job titles. It would be easy to get confused and lost in people’s job titles and just because their job title is one thing, it doesn’t mean they’re not capable of something else. Ignore job titles. Job titles are often more confusing than they are useful. Just look at the roles and what needs doing.

I have adopted this approach on projects where there’s been just me or a couple of us, through to projects where there have been over 20,000 working on it. Yes, working on the event, not attending it. It just works. It’s also based on theatrical principles that have been proven over hundreds of years. I can’t take all the credit.

The reason it works is that live events see you having to glue together a myriad of issues, people, and organisations against a constantly moving backdrop that you’re not always in complete control of against an immovable deadline and with everyone watching. You don’t always have the luxury of time or having all the information to hand, which means that everyone needs clear leadership and clear direction.

If you or anyone working on a project doesn’t have absolute clarity on who’s in charge or leading the project, who’s in charge of the content, who’s in charge of the technical and delivery side of things, and who’s in charge of the logistics and operations, I can guarantee you you’ll be spending more money than you need to be, you’ll be more frustrated than you need to be, and you’ll be sacrificing one or all of either value, creativity, or impact.

Needlessly so.

If I ever stumble across any issues with a live event, creative, commercial, practical, timeline, personnel or politics, it can almost always be tracked back to these four key roles not being in place or not being clear, or the content and context marriage being out of balance. More importantly, once you have this team in place with the right marriage of content and contextual experience, you can bring in anyone with any idea, regardless of their experience, and from anywhere. And actually nurture ideas, nurture creativity, and nurture innovation – with a support structure that works with rather than against creativity.

Make sure you have this structure in place. Put it in place or have those you’re bringing on board put in it in place for you. Your event will be less complicated, less expensive, and less painful this way. Life’s too short for anything else, surely.

And as we come out of the crisis we’re in at the moment, there will be little room or appetite for such needless waste or confusion. There needs to be a simple answer when anyone asks the question, “Who’s is charge?”

Explaining this structure, which I find myself doing almost daily, I hear two common complaints.

The first is an insistence that a project’s figurehead should be the lead of the project. This isn’t the case. A figurehead, be it a CEO, an artist, a VIP, a marketing director, a chairman or client or an athlete or whoever else, can still be the public face and public lead of the live event, but unless they have the contextual experience and time, they can’t be the practical lead of a project. It’s simply solved, though. They merely need to have the team, the structure of four, report into them or they work with them closely just as a team would if they had a client or primary stakeholder. Simple.

Secondly, people ask about everyone else involved. Account managers, procurement, marketing, digital teams, functional area leads on sporting events, stakeholders and subcontractors, and anyone else. You’re producing a live event, this is the structure you need, these four key roles. Everyone else, everyone, works with, in, or around this team in some way, reporting into or communicating with one of these four key roles. It doesn’t really matter which as long as they report into one of them.

This structure then maintains clear lines of communication, responsibility, and leadership, which are the routes to more creativity, more value, and more impact. You can make it simple or you can make it complicated.

You have a choice.

There’s plenty to take in here, and to save this episode becoming a feature film, I’ve kept just to the key points.

For more guidance, you can find free resources on TheFactsOfLive.com, including examples of how to apply this simple structure to various different types of events at every scale imaginable.

And if you’d like structures for other events detailed, just let me know.

Armed with an understanding of content and context in looking at the most efficient and powerful structure possible to conceive, procure, or produce any live event, the next episode looks at how to kick things off.

That is, what to do when an idea or a need for a live event first materialises.

The decisions made at the idea stage, the live event’s genesis, can have a far bigger affect on that live event’s creativity, its cost, its value, and its impact than the decisions that you or anyone else make you further down the line.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.


REMOTE WORKING ON HORSEBACK?

REMOTE WORKING ON HORSEBACK?

12 April 2020

What with the virus ‘n all – we’ve all been zooming the living daylights out of our lives. Is there not a more interesting alternative worth pursuing though – a whole world in fact. Or worlds even. 2 minutes of video (and me losing my voice)…

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, and I’m in the experience game. I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer, and Director.

Now, remote working has clearly hit the mainstream as a necessity, if nothing else. But, we’re all clearly Zooming the living daylights out of our lives, at the moment.

Are we not missing a trick, though?

Surely, there’s more exciting ways of working together remotely, than staring at a patchwork of pixelated portraits, no matter how beautiful they may be.

There’s a segment of society that have truly embraced remote working and collaborative working in spectacular fashion.

Gamers.

Gamers have been working together, joining forces remotely for years, be that mining in Minecraft, fighting in Fortnite, causing chaos and roaming around in Red Dead Redemption 2, playing footy in FIFA, and whatever’s going on here, in World of Warcraft. Gaming aside though, you’ve got people working remotely, collaboratively wandering around these incredible environments.

How much would it take the people that make these games to create environments that we could wander around while we’re working, chatting and hanging out together.

Instead of using your horse to find fights in a digital Mexico, at the chaos end of the spectrum, or jumping on Zoom for a more sedate experience, why not grab your mates or colleagues, and go for a canter along your virtual beach, on your virtual horse?

Rockstar Games, Epic Games, EA Sports – if you’re watching, is this worth looking at? Everyone can get in on the act. It’s a wonder they haven’t already.

Disney and Pixar could have us holding conference calls in the coral, Warner Bros. could have us hanging out in Hogwarts, and Elon could have us holding meetings on Mars, already.

It can’t be that hard, can it? Some of these digital worlds already exist, and new ones can be created. Just give us interesting environments, or worlds we can explore with our friends and our colleagues, and maybe throw a few challenges in, as well. And of course, I guess, you know, screen sharing and document sharing needs to be in there somehow, as well. Maybe partner with Zoom.

Remote working on horseback, anyone?

Surely, all this needs to be a thing.

What do you think?


EVENT SUPPLIER OPPORTUNITY - PART 2

EVENT SUPPLIER OPPORTUNITY – PART 2

8 April 2020

This second video of two is for you if you’re an event supplier. You have a huge opportunity. As we emerge from this crisis – brands, agencies and governments are going to want to buy better, find the most appropriate creativity and generate more value. To do this effectively requires knowledge and expertise. There has never been a greater need for your expertise, your talent, your knowledge… one of your biggest assets.

Most people who work in brands, agencies or governments – who buy, produce, design or create live events have no training in the craft of doing so – call it stagecraft, theatre craft… whatever you like.

This hinders productivity, creativity and budgets, results in crap tenders and RFPs – it also reduces an event or exhibition’s value and impact, as time and effort are focused on the wrong sort of problems.

This second video expands on the first with examples of what you could do, for who and how. It’s a long’un (about 8 minutes) but worth a watch if you’re looking for new opportunities and to help people in this changing world.

If you’ve not watched the first video, please do so first – which you can find here.

If you think these two videos can help others you know, feel free to share.

Thoughts and questions welcome.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a Producer, Designer, Writer and Director.

And this is the second part of a two-part video series looking at how you, if you’re and event supplier, that is you supply goods or services to the event industry, or the event sector, how you have an enormous opportunity. In fact, it’s more than an opportunity, your expertise has never been more in need than it is now.

If you’ve not seen the first video of this two-parter, please watch it, there’s a link to it in the description.

In summary, though, we’re looking at filling the enormous knowledge gap that exists in all the hundreds or thousands of organisations that produce and create live events. Your audience for this knowledge are the thousands of Producers, Account Managers, Project Managers, Designers, Creatives and others who are designing, specifying or creating events for themselves, their organisations, or their clients.

Most are currently doing this without even a basic knowledge of theatre or stage craft, and the technical and logistical crafts that make them happen. Many people in these organisations are also often too afraid to ask for help or admit they don’t know something. After all, if you’re the Producer of an event, you should know at least the basics of, for example, lighting design… shouldn’t you? Sadly, many don’t, and they for sure want to, but to admit you don’t know, it’s seen as dangerous ground for many more junior people. And to be honest, even some people who own and run larger agencies or organisations who ought to know this stuff, don’t.

These knowledge gaps needs filling if live events are going to become more viable, be more creative, and deliver more value and more impact, because as we come out of the crisis we’re in, everyone’s going to be looking for more for less, and in more innovative ways. So assuming you’ve watched the first part of this two-part series, let’s look at how the expertise you have can fill those knowledge gaps, today.

First up, if you’re a set or staging company, look at and explain the very basics of stagecraft, stage design. Upstage, downstage, stage left, stage right, what a proscenium is and all the rest of it. The absolute basics, so people can better articulate what they are looking to achieve. Another large issue is the number of people who work or have only worked in 2D, and are designing events and exhibitions on screen, again, in 2D. Enlighten them with knowledge of the third dimension, and how this is best considered.

Talk about time, too, how things can change and transitions. Anything you think would be useful to a designer who’s only ever designed a digital campaign or some branding, and now trying to design a live brand activation in glorious 3 dimensions. Explain how sight lines need to be considered, and other key design considerations. Look at traditional stages, stages in the round, runways and all the rest of it.

Get the basics sorted out, and then move on to more theatrical effects, like how gauze effects work, or simple automation. Whatever you think valuable, to them, not to you. If you have a crewing or event resource service, look at stage management, for example, what works, what doesn’t, and how stage management should be addressed. So often stage management is seen as a dark art, and everyone wonders why so many people are needed, and just standing around. Explain it, detail what they are all doing. And that for some, it’s what they need to do when things go wrong rather than what they don’t need to do when things are going well.

Showcalling, another dark art understood by so few. Explain the basics, explain the terminology. Explain how and when they need to get involved, and the difference between what a Producer, Stage Management, the Showcaller and others should be doing during planning, rehearsals and the event. Look at events on traditional stages, in the round, in fields or the open public spaces, or in stadiums, in as many different places as possible. Provide as much context as possible, this is all basic stuff, and understood by so few.

There are so many event technologies, clearly, I don’t have time to go into them all, but let’s look at some of the most common, you’ll a flavor of how to approach it.

First up, if you are a lighting company, explain the basics of lighting design. The aim here is not to replace you or the role of a lighting designer, it’s to give people the tools to have more useful and informed conversations and to get them thinking.

Explain a little about different lights, how to light difference scenes or environments, talk about the subtler side of things, like shadows and shade, whatever you think is worthwhile. Maybe even discuss how to choose a lighting designer. Then look at how lighting set ups work, what goes in the gap between an electrical supply and the lamps themselves? Lighting desks, dimmers, control, the cabling and distribution, and all the rest of it. Explain the basics, how does it work, what does it look like, how big are these things? People will find this useful.

If you are a sound company, again, explain the basics of sound design. The things you find yourself explaining time and time again, from how you can’t stand in front of a speaker with a microphone, the different types of microphones, how to cover an audience with sound, foldback, in ear monitors, the basic stuff. Then explain the equipment set up. What’s in the gap between a microphone and the loudspeaker? Cables, which sort, wireless technology, desks, multicores, amplifiers, mains distribution and cabling. What does this look like How is a basic rig wired, set up, sound checked and operated?

If you’re a video company, explain how projectors work, the different types and how to line them up. You could even show the old-school method, too. Understanding how projectors with their different colored light sources of old are lined up, explains the science behind the technology now taken for granted.

Demonstrate how LED screens work, what different resolutions are useful, how they link together, and anything else you can think of.

Camera rigs, how do cameras work, and link together, and how are they controlled. How should camera set ups be designed for different types of events? Playback and control. How do images get from a camera lens, or from a playback device, mixed and onto a screen? What are the different technologies, how do they link together, who operates them, what does all this stuff look like? But keep it simple. You are not training your staff here, you’re giving people enough information to create and design events more effectively or creatively, and giving them the tools and the language to be able to articulate things to their colleagues or clients.

Rigging, if you’re a rigging company and you’re getting the picture now, what are the basics of rigging? Rigging points, hoists, hardware, truss, and how all this comes together. How does flying and automation work? What are the most common systems or approaches? How is it controlled, what are the key considerations, again, anything useful. I’ll leave the event technology companies there, hopefully there’s enough there to spark a few ideas.

Finally let’s look at a few logistical opportunities. If you are a freighting, trucking or shipping company, the world is your oyster. So little is understood, and everyone thinks they’re an expert, and few people understand the difference between a traditional logistics partner and one who specializes in events. Explain the basics of how sea freight works, how air freight works, and how trucking works.

Explain how customs, import, temporary imports, exports, fees, bonds and other bureaucratic necessities work. Again this is not to replace your role, it’s to help people explain how things work. Help people to help themselves and you. Maybe sort out answers for the questions you get 100 times a week, and are fed up of answering. But keep it positive.

If you have a travel, accommodation or catering firm specializing in events, explain the basics. If you have a catering firm, how does that work? Do you build kitchens, do you need kitchens, how do you approach catering for crew, for guests, delegates and VIPs, and any other scenarios? Look at your specific area of expertise or niche and talk about what people really should know before they pick up the phone to you.

I could carry on, but you get the idea.

Now, live events can utilize any skill and any industry under the sun, but there are some fundamental basics that are so common to so many events, but understood by so few.

As I said in the previous video, the ways and means of doing this can be found across the interweb. But as we emerge from this crisis, brands, agencies and governments are going to want to buy better, find the most appropriate creativity and generate more value. Without the basic knowledge we’re talking about here, this has always been an issue, and now never more so. This is your opportunity to lead from the front. Remember, this is not about selling, it’s just about helping.

There has never been a better time, there has never been a greater opportunity, and there has never be a greater need for your knowledge and for your expertise.

These two videos should have given you enough inspiration and thought provoking ideas to demonstrate both the opportunity and how to help others and yourself at the same time.

I welcome your thoughts, and happy to take questions.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching, and I’ll speak to you again soon.


WHAT'S THE POINT?

WHAT’S THE POINT?

8 April 2020

Episode 1 of: The Facts of Live – The Series, ‘What’s The Point?’

The episode covers: unnecessary struggles, know what business you really work in, the series structure, why before ROI and what’s the point?

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning. I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer, and Director. I’m also the author of the bestselling book “The Facts of Live.” This series is loosely based on the book, but focuses on how to deal with the issues resulting from the global crisis we’re working our way through. Looking at how brands, governments, agencies, individuals and anyone else conceives, procures, produces, or creates anything live – to create the greatest value and impact.

Even before the crisis we find ourselves in now many live events, exhibitions, and experiences had dubious, questionable value, and if you’re honest you probably went to some of them or seen some of them too. But as we come out of this crisis we’re in many live events and exhibitions are going to be under much more scrutiny.

This is a welcome change in my view and if any one good thing comes out of this situation it will be the start of and appreciation of more creative work and working, new approaches and fresh thinking. Okay, that’s three things – but still.

I’m a creator at heart and much of my time is spent pushing creative boundaries and trying to inspire different thinking. And that’s the way it should be. Yet many practices and standard approaches in the business of live events and exhibitions, actually do more to hinder this than help. And much of my work, and the purpose of this series, is to sort that out. I constantly see brands, agencies, governments, organising committees and all sorts of people wrestling with the same unnecessary issues time and time again.

Do any of these sound familiar? Poor creativity, ideas getting watered down or lack of innovation, wondering where or how to find the best creative talent or why the talent you have isn’t delivering what you expected; procurement exercises that become exercises in compliance with the procurement process and getting people the exact opposite of the best value and ideas they need; wrestling with budgets and costs of things that keep moving and are often undefinable; struggling with all the curveballs and change or as it’s often called, chaos; and everyone’s favorite complaint, long hours and stress.

For the most part these are completely avoidable.

And for this new world we’re emerging into they’re going to have to be tamed if brands and organisations want to buy better, generate better creativity, increase value and generate more impact. Less struggling and nonsense – more creativity!

Why are these issues we’ve been discussing then so common? Well, to answer that we have to take a step back. And I have become entirely convinced that many people who work with, in or around live events don’t actually know what business they’re working in. So if you work in sports or the arts, or entertainment or marketing or government or communication, if you do anything live, do yo u actually know what business you’re working in?

Well here’s a short video I put together a while back which explains.

– Art is just art,

– Sport is just sport,

– A message just a message,

– And music mere music.

– Until you add an audience,

– Then you’re in the business of:

– Theatre.

Yes, whether you’re an artist, or organising sporting events or working in marketing or communication, if you’re doing anything live you’re most definitely in the business of theater. Yes, we’re all ‘luvvies’!

You have a stage or performance area. You have something happening in that space, content. And you have an audience. It’s live, it’s theater.

And theater, or live events, is a craft or discipline in its own right. It’s a craft or discipline that so few understand though or know where to turn. For example, if someone wants a building, everyone knows they need an architect. With live events, there’s no such common understanding. The result is that everyone makes something up, relies on hearsay, or relies on Mark from Marketing or Penelope from Procurement or they form a committee to discuss and invent a process. It’s utter madness and it’s the reason behind things costing more than they need to, being more complicated than they need to be, being less creative or impactful than they otherwise would be.

These are problems the more frugal, discerning, emerging world can ill afford. And without a cursory understanding of the discipline or craft we’re all working with, how can you possibly know what you’re doing or the approach you’re taking, or you’re being sold, is best for you? It’s simple… you can’t.

There is an an endless supply of books, courses, individuals and training to deal with all the individual aspects of live events, from event management, and sponsorship and marketing, through to the technical, content and creative side of things. But how do you best utilise these aspects? How do you best engage with them? How do you procure them? And how do you glue them together to create the greatest value and impact? That is the seemingly enormous knowledge gap this series films and kicks all the issues we’ve been discussing into touch.

So this series is going to cover the following things:

Structure, make it complicated and expensive like many or adopt a far simpler and more effective approach.

The genesis, what to do at the idea stage, the decisions at this point have bigger repercussions than any other.

Talent, understand the talent you need, don’t need, when you need it, how to identify it and how to structure it as powerfully and as effectively as possible.

Leadership, get the most out of your team or those you bring on board using proven and often overlooked principles.

Money, understand how budgets and money really work, and how they don’t, giving you way more control and delivering far better value.

Procurement, and I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to cover it, as the approaches I see day in and day out are costing people a fortune and are either entirely counterproductive at one end of the spectrum or scandalous at the other. We’ll sort out procuring live events, goods and services, more efficiently, even when you don’t know what you need.

Risk, we’ll look at how to reduce financial, operation and reputation risks, though by the time we get to this stage it should be pretty obvious.

Creative, how to effectively nurture creativity and find or generate new ideas, and how not to.

And finally, alchemy. All of this is to glue together the myriad of issues, people and organisations you’ll be relying upon against the backdrop of constant change and uncertainty, an immovable deadline and with everyone watching, transforming how we all, together, conceive, procure, produce and create live events with far more value and impact.

All of these, are ‘The Facts of Live.

So that’s where we’re heading, but we’ve got to start somewhere. So in the final part of this first episode, what point does a live event serve anyway? Is there any point in doing them?

There are only three things you can do with a live event, sell, communicate or entertain. That’s it. And if people could do any of these without a live event, given the cost and the effort, they would. Or they should. Yet I’m always amazed by the amount of events I see that are either misguided or misjudged. Now this is perhaps a whole episode in its own right.

For example though, there are the tedious internal communication events and conferences staged only for tradition’s sake. Much of the content could be delivered more effectively digitally. There are the vanity events where a CEO just wants their photo with a celebrity speaker on stage or a brand wants to show off their product without considering the media side. And there are the events that don’t need to be events that are form over function, like events produced just to capture excited faces or moments, which is common, yet ridiculous. What you need here is a photoshoot. Quicker, simpler, and cheaper. And I could go on, but you get the gist.

Brands and organisations can often get pretty wound up by things like value, impact and return on investment, or ROI. Now ROI is an entire science or as I see it a bit of a dark art because with enough politics and enough mathematics almost anything can be engineered or demonstrated. I’m not going to get into a whole discussion about ROI in this episode but my view about it is pretty simple, as should yours be.

Almost anything can be measured, and ROI then scientifically calculated. But asking what the ROI of an event is first is the wrong approach. The question that needs asking, which so few seem to ask is quite simply, what’s the point? If you can’t answer this, your event or exhibition has dubious value. If you’re relying on others to come up with what could be measured or what the ROI might be without saying what you want to be measured, or why you’re doing an event, this is a fundamental flaw and should be ringing alarm bells for everyone involved.

How many exhibitions search for meaning and ROI once they’ve been commissioned? How many conferences or experiential events have their teams running around trying to determine their value or ROI after they’ve happened? And how many resource-hungry sporting events see you yet more resource after the event trying to work out what the impact’s been or what the ROI was? Now all of this is so common, it’s almost normal. And it’s complete madness.

There doesn’t necessarily need to be a good value reason for doing an event. If you want to blow a load of cash just for the hell of it for your own reasons, that in and of itself has some kind value to you. But if there’s no obvious point to the event, don’t do it, what’s the point? And once you know you want to do something, make sure a live event is the best solution.

Apply some channel-agnostic analysis. Are there better channels, approaches or media that could deliver a better result? And with that done, what you need to measure will be crystal clear and then mechanisms to do so will either be straightforward or can be worked into the design process. It amazes me that how many people in organisations don’t adopt this analysis. Work out the why and then the ROI.

Once an event makes sense to do following some proper thinking, or strategy as the fancier in our world like to call it, for goodness sake, make sure that event is then wondrous or worthwhile or both. Wondrous, meaning does it entertain people or provoke them to think differently in some way? Or worthwhile, meaning does it deliver against any business or communication objectives?

If it is wondrous or worthwhile, or preferably both, it will move your audience. Move them to buy more stuff, move them to think differently or move them with powerful entertainment. And if you’re not going to move your audience, seriously, what’s the point? Make sure you, your client, your team or whoever owns or is creating the event or exhibition is clear on why they want it, or focus all attention on working out what the point is before going any further

Once it’s clear not only will the event almost certainly deliver better value but the teams working on it will be clear on the vision and can make sure all efforts are focused where they should be, increasing the event’s impact. It’s crazy how often this is overlooked, typically because of vested interests, be they political, or ego, or self-preservation or commercial, or whatever else.

If there’s one thing you get from this series, if nothing else, this one step can do more for the value and impact of your event then anything else.

It’s a simple question, what’s the point?

With the purpose clear, it’s then time to move on.

And in the next episode, we’ll be looking at what all events have in common and how, based on solid, proven theatrical principles, any event, regardless of its type, its scale or its purpose is best structured.

There’s the commonly adopted complex and cumbersome approach or there’s simple and streamlined.

It really doesn’t need to be difficult or involve the wrong sort of hard work. And then – guess what, everyone involved can focus on being more creative, creating more value and creating more impact.

Imagine that!

Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.


EVENT SUPPLIER OPPORTUNITY PART 1

EVENT SUPPLIER OPPORTUNITY – PART 1

3 April 2020

If you are an event supplier, you have what I believe is a once in a lifetime opportunity, or in a long time anyway. As we emerge from this crisis, brands, agencies and governments are going to want to buy better, find the most appropriate creativity and generate more value.

Most people who work in brands, agencies and governments – who buy, produce, design or create live events have no formal training in the craft of doing so – call it stage craft, theatre craft… whatever you like. As such, the knowledge gap between ideas and reality is enormous.

Once upon a time, those designing and developing live events would have had some theatrical background or training, though now, with a sector so diverse with people from all manners of backgrounds, this basic knowledge and expertise is lacking – across the board. This hinders productivity, creativity and budgets – it’s also frustrating and reduces an event or exhibitons value and impact.

Few involved in live events are ever going to theatre or stage school or anything similar. So where could they learn the expertise and insights that can get them what they need? Who else has this knowledge of ‘the craft’.

Yes… you – if you’re an event supplier. And there’s your enormous, almost untapped, opportunity.

Whether people realise it or not (yet) there has never been a greater need for your expertise, your talent, your knowledge… one of your biggest assets. 4 and a half minutes to explain in this first of two videos…

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning. I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer, and Director.

As I’ve said previously, I’m trying to help as many people as possible during these times of isolated uncertainty. So if you’re an event supplier, that is you supply goods or services to the event, or exhibition sector, I believe you have a once in a generation opportunity. Or once in a very long time anyway.

In this is the first video of two, I hope I can help and inspire you.

Whilst your warehouses may be packed sky high, staff on leave or phones sitting silent, many of you have an enormous, valuable asset that is, by and large, completely untapped. Back in the day when I started out, as a young’un, I worked somewhere where I was taught the fundamental basics of theater, stagecraft, event technology and logistics, or as I call it, “The Craft.” I also spent an enormous amount of time with event suppliers learning everything I could. And if you look at some of the established leaders in the live event sectors, many of them have some form of theatrical, or similar, training or backgrounds.

The majority of events and exhibitions though are conceived, procured, produced, and developed by people without the expertise or experience in this craft. Now that’s not always a bad thing, because it can lead to new ideas, new thinking, new creativity and innovations.

This lack of basic knowledge in the craft though does often lead to frustration, wasted time, money and effort, crap tenders and RFPs, and events and exhibitions that could have delivered far more value, creativity and impact if time and resources were better focused. There is an enormous knowledge gap between what people want to try and achieve with their ideas and how to actually make them happen.

Those that have the expertise in this craft, I mean, there are some event agencies and some exhibition agencies for sure, but, by and large, it’s you if you’re an event supplier. This knowledge, this expertise, is one of your biggest assets. Few other people have it. And most people involved with anything live haven’t been and won’t be going to theater or stage school or anything similar.

And this is where your opportunity lies. At the moment, people are isolated and internet binging. Give them something worthwhile to binge on.

If you can educate people or explain even the basics of your expertise or your craft, you’ll be doing far more for the people that need it and yourselves than many other people.

There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of event agencies, production companies, branding agencies, digital agencies, advertising agencies, marketing agencies, PR agencies, experiential agencies, media companies, governments, charities, arts organisations, artists, architects, sports federations, sports organisations, organising committees, freelancers and more who work with, in and around live events and exhibitions. Many of them have no training in the craft of doing anything live. Why would they?

As we come out of the crisis we’re in, many of them are going to be looking to do things better, more effectively, more efficiently, and more creatively, or to create more value and more impact. Couldn’t you be helping them? Shouldn’t you be helping them? And if you do, if you’re there helping them now with qualified expertise, who do you think they are going to turn to when projects come back online or when new ideas are getting discussed?

I urge you to consider creating material, content, lectures, talks, videos or whatever other information and put it out there to help. A note of caution though. This is categorically not about selling your flashy lights, your latest LED product, your great people, your manufacturing expertise, or credentials, and it’s not product demonstrations or anything like that. This is just giving, helping. Don’t sell your products and services. Just educate and inform – in a language people without the knowledge you have will understand. Give without expectation.

And make it useful, specific information, not generic or general ideas or opinions. Facts, knowledge and expertise. Stick to what you know, and stick to what you know inside out.

The ways and means of doing this are easy to find across the interweb. And it doesn’t need to be glossy or polished. Just be yourselves and explain what you think people ought to know.

You have knowledge and expertise that most people don’t, even if they say they do. You can fill that knowledge gap, helping them and, in turn, yourself or your company. There has never been a better time, there has never been a greater opportunity, and there’s never been a greater need for your expertise and for your knowledge.

That’s it for now in this first video, and I hope it’s food for thought. In the second video of this two-parter, next week, I’ll go through examples of what I believe different suppliers could be talking about and teaching and what they shouldn’t and who it would benefit.

I’m happy to take any questions, and I’m interested in your thoughts.

Thanks for your time, thanks for watching, and I’ll speak to you again soon.


THE FACTS OF LIVE - THE SERIES

THE FACTS OF LIVE – THE SERIES

2 April 2020

FREE STUFF – PART 1. Aside from taking care of friends, family and those who need our help, we have a choice at the moment. Fixate on the issues or navigate through them – reflect, reinvent and focus on the opportunities that will come and that can be created.

The first part of the help I’m offering is a brand-new series I’ve put together. No – it’s not on Netflix, and no – it won’t cost you a penny to binge on.

The Facts of Live – The Series, begins on the 8th of April 2020.

Coming out of the current situation – across the board, people and companies are going to be wanting more value, needing better or more appropriate creativity and looking to create more impact.

Changing times call for a change in thinking.

This series looks at how to conceive, procure, produce and create events, exhibitions, and anything live to create the greatest value and impact in these changing times.

If you work in marketing, communication, entertainment, sport or the arts, this is for you.

If you’re an individual – a freelancer or contractor, for example, an agency, a brand, a supplier or in government – this for you.

Until the 8th, here’s the trailer and a few thoughts from me afterwards…

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

[Trailer, followed by:]

Hi, I’m Will Glendinning. I’m a Producer, Writer, Designer, and Director. I’m here offering free stuff, free help.

If you work in marketing, entertainment, communications, sport, or the arts in any way, there’s certainly going to be challenges coming out of the situation everyone’s in currently.

There’s huge opportunity as well, too. If you’re willing to embrace the change.

Either way, the world’s going to be very different. Across the board, people are going to be becoming more efficient and effective, wanting more value, needing better or more appropriate creativity, and looking to create more impact.

Expecting things to return to how they were previously, I mean, it may happen, but good luck with that.

As I said in previous videos, I want to do all I can to help. And the first thing I’m doing is creating a free, abridged video series of a book I published last year, “The Facts of Live.”

Whether you’re an individual – a freelancer, or a contractor, for example, an agency, a brand, a supplier or in government, this series will guide you in how to conceive, procure and produce events, exhibitions or anything live to create the greatest value and impact.

Over the course of the series, you can expect information on not least, how to:

  • effectively nurture creativity, new ideas and innovation,
  • procure live events, goods and services more efficiently, even when you don’t know what you need,
  • understand the talent you need, don’t need, when you need it, how to identify it, and how to structure it as powerfully and as effectively as possible,
  • reduce time, cost and complexity,
  • reduce financial, operation and reputation risks,
  • get the best out of your own people or those you bring on board, with proven leadership principles,
  • and glue together the myriad of issues, people and organisations you’ll be relying upon against the backdrop of constant change and uncertainty, an immovable deadline, and with everyone watching.

This information has never been more vital.

Now change has been long overdue, but now, suddenly, forced upon us all.

My hope with this free video series is that it helps you if you’re in any live or creative field, in this critical time of reflection, focus and reinvention.

I hope I can help you, from the Glendinning bunker.

A new episode will come out each week, or maybe twice a week, time and isolation chores permitting.

And I look forward to the debates and the discussions – do get involved.

Thanks for watching, thanks for your time, and I’ll speak to you again soon.