Last night showed us how one, simple oversight or unplanned goof can be the ONLY thing people remember.
For those unaware, Marco Rubio had 5 minutes to give the republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union. Leaving politics and content out, he was successfully sharing his message, good eye contact, enunciation, emphasis on the right points, etc. Until…
He essentially left the screen to grab a rushed drink of water. That was it. Over. Done with.
Twitter lit up with 9200 tweets per minute of comments, jokes, memes and it didn’t stop. National news reacted this morning as well and it may be all that people remember. He made his own joke of it and tried to manage the crises immediately but the jury’s still out.
How many fundraising lunches, awareness dinners and other events have you attended or planned where the single most important ‘take-away’ was, well, not taken away? Let’s avoid that before it happens, eh?
1. Predetermine the ONE, single most important message
Too often, those putting on the event get so excited that they’ll have a captive audience that they want to lock the doors and scream 891 different things at the audience in hopes that something sticks and that every single person donates, buys the product, joins the email list, likes them on Facebook, follows them on Twitter, volunteers, wears swag, joins a committee, commits to another event….oh, and makes sure all their friends do all that too. It’s too much. Pick the ONE (o.k., maaaaaybe two but that’s it) message you want people to walk away with.
2. Communicate that goal to ALL involved
Tell the staff, remind event contractors, keep it front and center through the entire planning process.
3. Control the environment
The weather or an ‘act of God’ are the only things that should keep that message from being communicating and resonating. Think through all the distractions (the common and the uncommon) and snub them. Make them irrelevant. In the worst case, have a back-up plan B, C, D, etc.
4. Review. Every. Single. Detail…..Twice.
Had one of the countless people that helped on that speech, event, set-up thought “hey, let’s put the water on a stool or table that’s close to him, within arms reach, but just outside of the camera shot” – it never would’ve happened. And better, we might actually remember what he said.
5. Practice as much as possible
Even if you can’t do a full run through. Have someone stand in for speakers or guests and share what they see, what they’re thinking, what distractions are there, etc. Is the air conditioner too loud? Yes, the wireless mic turns on but are the batteries old? Where’s the back-up if they die? If you’re watching a video, are their glares from various seats in the audience or does the light wash-out the screen every time the catering staff go in and out of a door in the back?
6. Hire a pro
If you don’t have time to care about the above, hire someone. It’s worth it. It’s only the entire reason you’re doing the event in the first place, right?