I Got 99 Problems But Lip-Syncing Ain’t One

Ethics for Live Events: Transparency & Authenticity Are Crucial

I Got 99 Problems But Lip-Syncing Ain't One

Ethics for Live Events: Authenticity & Transparency Are Crucial

It happens with B-list celebs and legendary artists.  No matter the medium, message, or caliber, audiences are consistently disappointed. Despite industry retorts of “standard performing practices,” lip-syncing always appears as a scandalous revelation that artists have tried so desperately to conceal.

At the outset, Beyonce’s performance at the inauguration was stunning. But, after news of a pre-recorded track surfaced, the magical moment was tarnished by the stain of lip-syncing. Fans were heartbroken, and even the media felt betrayed (what happened to trust?). The credibility of Beyonce’s upcoming Super Bowl performance was even called into question.

But beyond the disappointment, the core of this story is transparency and authenticity in live performances. There’s something magical about a live performance, and audiences are not willing to accept anything less. Whether it is a corporate sales meeting or a sold-out pop concert, audiences view live experiences as a commodity worth paying for, and they expect the product that they purchased to be delivered.

The fact of the matter is that the value of live content is in the authenticity of the experience. As an industry that relies on the exchange of live experiences, event producers must be sure to provide meaningful experiences in an authentic manner. Audiences don’t like to be tricked, and pre-recorded content that parades as a live performance is wholly deceiving. Don’t put on an act – be authentic. Be transparent. Be truthful.

Pre-recorded content begs the question: If anyone with a passable singing voice could spend a few days in the best recording studio with a top music producer – perhaps someone like Jay Z – could they pump out an amazing song and sound as good as Beyonce? Well maybe, but looking like her would be the next hurdle. But with enough hair extensions and a fabulous stylist…

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Do you agree or disagree? Leave comments to let us know what you think.

Cadence, Inc. is a full-service meeting planning and event production company in Chicago, Ill. For more unexpected perspectives from the event industry, follow @Cadence_Live on Twitter, connect on Facebook, or visit the website.

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“Going Zuckerberg:” The New Trend in Corporate Meetings and Events

Going Zuckerberg: The New Trend in Corporate Meetings

Going Zuckerberg: The New Trend in Corporate Meetings

If you’re a meeting planner, then you’re familiar with the extravagance of the corporate event scene. Extending floor to ceiling and spanning wall to wall, business meetings are often overdone with fantasies of projection mapping, celebrity entertainers, corny skits and even game shows. And that’s just the “business” side. Evening social events tend to be even more flashy and delicious – the wine flows like a river and the dessert looks like art. Cue the band, let’s welcome the after dinner entertainment!

Yes, much of the over-the-top extravagance in staging and awards has deflated since the recent economic downtown. But so have the event production budgets. Some trade magazines predict a return to opulence, but we predict a return to the essence– the message.

Enter Facebook – a company without any apparent budget issue and a leader whose communication reflects a strong, distinct brand image. In his sneakers and sweatshirt, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg must hate the overblown pomp at most corporate meetings. When presenting his own corporate communications, we’re willing to bet that Zuckerberg doesn’t include pounding Top 40 hits, the “voice-of-God” announcer, or the quasi-motivational opening theme videos.

In fact, this week’s press conference at the Facebook campus proved exactly that. A basic laptop setup with simple graphics and succinct copy stood in lieu of branded screen surrounds, fancy lighting, and elevated platforms. Keep it focused.

There was no need for complicated simulcasts or slow-loading web streams. Live blogging was as good as being there, and the news spread instantaneously throughout the social network.

Though the graphics were minimal, the content was substantial. Surely Zuckerberg could have easily created the flashiest graphics known to man, but that is not the Facebook way.

If Content is King, then Zuckerberg is the most loyal follower in all the land. He presents from a (literally) equal platform while delivering the core message. Logical and direct, Zuckerberg lets the content stand on its own. No tricks.

From the man who redefined interpersonal communication, is Zuckerberg also redefining corporate communications? With a renewed emphasis on the quality and clarity of content, attendees will focus on the content of the message instead of being distracted by theatrical gizmos. Corporate speakers who ‘Go Zuckerberg’ will feel that they are the main act, rather than an understudy in a B-school play.

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Do you agree or disagree? Leave comments to let us know what you think.

Cadence, Inc. is a full-service meeting planning and event production company in Chicago, Ill. For more unexpected perspectives from the event industry, follow @Cadence_Live on Twitter, connect on Facebook, or visit the website.

2013: The Year of the Attendee

5 Tips for the Experience Economy

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Shrink food portions. Cut coffee breaks. Reuse centerpieces. Eliminate dessert.

We’ve been reading about cost-saving tips for meeting and event planners, but we’d like to propose that it’s not all about the bottom line. It’s about the user experience.

It’s ok to serve smaller appetizers and use local entertainment talent, but you should always evaluate how these “minor” cost savings can negatively impact the user experience. Are attendees hungry between meals and tired from long walks? It may be cheaper to serve hors d’oeuvres instead of a meal, but a happy attendee is the key to a successful event.

The event industry is predicated on the value of interpersonal interactions. As meeting planners and event producers, we work in an experience economy where engagement is the currency. How can we refocus our attention to better improve the attendee experience?

The technology industry got this right a long time ago. Paying $400 for the new iPhone could be considered ludicrous, or it could be considered an investment in productivity, efficiency, and connectivity. In realigning our efforts to provide the best attendee experience, we should all take a few tips from Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines.

1. Focus on the Primary Task

Determine the purpose of the meeting and refer back to it. Why are the attendees here? What does this meeting hope to achieve and does the event flow support the mission? It is easy to be distracted by giveaway items and karaoke machines, so make sure that all decisions support the primary task of the meeting.

 2. Elevate the Content that People Care About

People attend meetings for specific reasons. They expect to learn and strategize in ways that are not usually possible at the office. They have seen every template in PowerPoint and are well versed in reading pie charts. Instead, enhance content with beautiful theme graphics, a vividly illustrated case study, or responsive technology.

3. Always Be Prepared to Stop

Lectures aren’t fun for anyone. Encourage presenters to accept questions from the audience in real-time. Direct user response and research is the key to understanding the audience, and incorporating their input builds a two-way connection between the attendees and the presenter.

 4. Enable Collaboration and Connectedness

Make it easy for attendees to make new connections and interact with others. The crux of any meeting is interpersonal interactions. Foster these interactions by providing adequate time and space for mingling and impromptu meetings.

 5. Enhance Interactivity (Don’t Just Add Features)

Props and photo booths are fun, but how do they enhance the attendee experience? It’s important to make sure that tools and technology serve a larger purpose. Enhance interactivity through run and relevant tools.

The user experience revolves around streamlined interaction with content that people care about. For 2013, we propose the Year of the Attendee.

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Do you agree or disagree? Leave comments to let us know what you think.

Cadence, Inc. is a full-service meeting planning and event production company in Chicago. For more unexpected perspectives from the event industry, follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, or visit our website.

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Photo credit: The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore

In Defense of Print

An E-Card is to Spam as Handwritten is to Love Letter

So little business correspondence is printed on paper, folded into an envelope, and sent through the mail. But as the holiday season comes to a close and we examine our collection of e-cards versus print cards, we’d like to argue in defense of print.

Print is not altogether outdated. Yes, email is more efficient in many cases, but is efficiency the #1 priority for holiday cards? Is hitting the send button on your contact list the best that you can do? Holidays are the one time of year when businesses examine those who helped them to achieve their successes. To properly say ‘thank you,’ we’d like for business holiday cards to be printed, signed, and stamped.

E-cards are just not the same. While they can be animated and personalized, that is most often not the case. Most of the e-cards that I received did not easily download in my email. My Outlook required me to ‘right click to download images.’ Did I click to download the images? No. On the contrary, did the office display all of our print holiday cards in the lunch room? Yes.

Some of the worst e-cards are forwarded. E-cards can go viral, but it’s not because they are clever. A quick Google search returns an avalanche of epic holiday card fails: http://www.funnyordie.com/slideshows/aea53b6c88/amazingly-terrible-christmas-cards

With a light-hearted and genuine intention, holiday cards actually reveal many insights about a company’s creativity and brand. I’ll bet that ‘efficiency’ is not typically a brand pillar…unless you work at USPS. Whether it is a custom design or a handwritten message, a personal touch can go a long way.

Show your clients and vendors some love next holiday season and send a real print card.

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Do you agree or disagree? Leave comments to let us know what you think. If you’re interested in hearing more unexpected perspectives from the event industry, follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, or visit our website.