It’s taken me a long time to understand this work, but over the past fifteen years of actively producing live events here’s what I think I’ve discovered.
Good Enough is no longer Good Enough
Due to higher levels of exposure to media, audiences have acquired higher expectations when it comes to public events. They won’t sit thru events (more than once) merely out of a sense of duty. And Followers of Jesus who lead ought not to accept good enough just because they can. Producing is the discipline of thinking about what the audience needs and can handle.
Then: Might Makes Right
Now: Right Makes Might
People are able to express themselves more readily. They see it as a right. They expect their leaders to listen to them. They talk to each other. Producing leverages this shift in power and encourages it in creative ways.
This is something people have known intuitively for a long time but now physicists have come up with hard data.
Their work, provides a compelling case against lecturing
When Eric Mazur began teaching physics at Harvard, he started out lecturing just as he himself had been taught. It worked for him but not his students who effectively increased their skills of memorizing formulas without actually understanding the concepts behind them. Mazur’s physics class is now different. Rather than lecturing, he makes his students do most of the talking. This is a method Mazur calls “peer Instruction.” “In class, we work on trying to make sense of the information,” Production is the art of designing events that help people “make sense” of what you’re communicating. We create a public conversation where the people do most of the talking.
People remember what they say not what you say.
This is as much a tactical decision as it is relational because research shows that we comfort ourselves when we hear our own voice. Just as sonar tells bats where they are in physical space, your own vocal feedback system tells you where you are in emotional space ” (The Devoicing of Society)
The best Ideas emerge out of collaboration
Well produced interactive events help us make sense out of what we’re hearing by providing time for people talk with others, too. We need to compare our experiences with others and piece together a better alternative. Another way to think about it is less Expert more Engagement. A writer named Joey Reimar put it this way,”Collaboration is one of the best kept secrets of creativity – thirteen people worked with Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel, The Manhattan project was a group not a person” (Thinking for a Living)
People need to know that they aren’t alone (or stupid)
Production is the act of thinking of others. It asks what do they need, what’s doable for them and what are they able to to handle. Production is the work of providing an experience that honors other above ourselves by paying attention to them from the time they walk through the front door of the venue and back out again at the end of the event. We all struggle with the feeling of being the only one with this problem or feeling stupid for thinking this or worrying about that. A well produced event anticipates and “attacks” those concerns head on.
Accessing the imagination is the key
“The era of “left brain” dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which “right brain” qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate” (A Whole New Mind)
Production refuses to elevate thinking above feeling. The imagination is the welcome mat to the heart and translates thoughts into pictures, pictures into feelings and feelings into actions. Accessing the imagination is KEY to transforming peoples hearts. This is why entertainment trumps education when it comes to communicating and why production has found a home in entertainment. The art of production concerns itself primarily with accessing the imagination In the same way that Medical, Legal and Educational institutions once resisted being associated with Marketing, but now rely on it. Production will be embraced as normative by these and other institutions as part of their mission to change peoples hearts and minds
These are the principles that inform our production practices. Its why no presenter should speak more than 10 minutes and why people should be able to speak with each other for at least 15 minutes. It’s why we utilize music which accesses the imagination through the back door. Its why we use interviews because human beings relax when they are allowed to voyeur in on conversations. It has been my observation that these practices only happen when they’re planned.
Here’s a simple way to determine whether or not you need someone to produce your live events
If you want to deliver a lecture, you don’t need a producer
If you want people to do something, you do need a producer
Producers help you access the imagination of your audience so that people voluntarily choose to join your mission.
That’s what you get when you hire me.