When you go to a concert or play, watch a film or TV show, go to a party, or get into a good book, which do you prefer: predictability or surprise?
I thought so.
Why would you do any of those if you knew exactly what was going to happen? Should it be any different with your business meeting? Certainly not. That’s why we help our clients infuse the element of surprise before, during, and after their programs.
Think about it. If you had to distill the single most critical ingredient in producing meetings and events down to one word, what would it be? For us, it’s engagement. Nothing is more important and everything flows from it—learning, celebration, recognition—and the element of surprise is one of the most powerful tools you can use to make create it.
Engaging your audience by way of surprise can be quite simple. For example, we look for the unexpected speaker, not the one who’s necessarily on the circuit or the usual ‘go to’ expert. When you hear hard core business messages from someone outside the business world, speakers from the arts, for example, it comes as a surprise and the impact of our clients’ messages is enhanced.
Want to promote such a speaker in advance? It can be a surprise when you announce it and it builds anticipation. Want to keep it a secret until they’re introduced just before they go on? An even greater surprise.
Surprise in the form of planned interruptions can make for great meeting theatre from the stage during an executive’s presentation, particularly if the topic is on change but it can work for any business theme.
In an instant, we’ve shocked, amused, and engaged our audiences—not only by the experience we create for them, but by the way their executive is perceived: cool, calm, collected, and as having a sense of humor, all valuable traits that catapult his or her stock.
We’ve also produced and choreographed everything from flash mobs that spring unexpectedly from the audience, to videos that interrupt presenters on stage. There is no limit to how you can surprise an audience.
(In Part 2, we’ll see how surprise can transform and hold an audience!)