Happy Valentine’s Day, my little lovebirds. Have any romantic plans for this evening? Perhaps you are going out for dinner. Don’t you love when chefs say that their food is “made with love?” What does that even mean? Well, they mean that the food is made with intention and care. The chef is a master at her craft and she knows that the food will nourish and sustain her guest. She made her food with affection to entertain the senses and help the guest enjoy the evening. This work of caring for and attending to our guests does not exist in the Michelin three-star restaurants only. There is a diva lesson to be learned here.
Your Day 14 challenge is to Infuse Love into Your Creative Experience Design.
What is creative experience design? It boils down to thinking about what your audience observes and feels from start to finish when they attend your event/performance. This type of design isn’t about programming music for a specific type of audience. It is about creating an experience around your programming that delights your audience and holds them spellbound.
“Typically, we are asking an audience to come to our house on a Friday or Saturday night. Then, we tell them that if they don’t like it they should learn more about it.” When I heard this phrase during a Fresh Inc workshop, I stopped cold. How many times have I subconsciously required my audience to have my aesthetic taste, my background knowledge, and my values to enjoy the performance? We already know the magic that happens in performance settings. We have usually self-selected our friends who also understand this. We have devoted extreme amounts of time to rehearsal and preparation. But if they aren’t already drinking the Kool-Aid, why would they want to show up to your event?
Imagine you are going to a movie theater or a baseball game. Neither of those experiences are just about the movie or the sport. Your performance is about the music first, but not at the expense of a total experience design. Those movie-goers and intrepid fans are also planning who they are going with, what they’re going to eat and drink while there, and when they’re going to the bathroom quite frankly. Go back to your psychographic profiles and think about the wants and needs of your audience members. Also, identify who you are currently reaching and who you are not. Both are important for designing a better event.
Design a Better Performance Experience for Your Guests
Think about the last performance you went to that was special. Really special. Write freely about what made it so unique and mesmerizing.
Now, think about an upcoming performance you have on your calendar. Answer these prompts to build a better experience for everyone involved. For each prompt, imagine you are the audience member for your upcoming event first. Then, brainstorm some ways to make the audience’s situation feel better.
Before they get in the door:
- How will they find out about your performance?
- How will they find out more information?
- How does the audience get tickets?
- Does your venue jive with your overall idea?
- Where will they park? Are they familiar with the parking situation?
- Are there any obstacles for those with mobility concerns?
- Does your event conflict with another major, nearby event?
- Will your audience be coming straight from another commitment, i.e. the office, to your event?
- Does all of the tech for your performance work?
Before they sit down:
- Can you prepare your audience for the performance even in the lobby?
- How will they find their seats?
- Will there be programs and how do they get them?
- Is it lit well-enough in the space for them to read?
- Are the restrooms easy to find? Are they clean and working?
- Can they get something to eat or drink?
During the performance:
- What makes this performance so special and how will your audience know?
- Did you expect them to read the program notes? What if they didn’t have time before the performance?
- Are you going to speak from the stage? If so, will you need a mic?
- Can the audience see the stage action from every seat in the house?
- Do you have a reliable person to run all aspects of the tech during performance?
- Does your audience know how long the performance will be? (Bathroom breaks are important to lots of people…)
- How will you keep the audience engaged throughout the performance?
After the performance:
- Does everyone know the bow/curtain call plan?
- Are you planning to have a Q&A session after the program?
- Would you like audience members to meet & greet the artists in the lobby?
- Do all the performers know whether to greet in-costume or street clothes (if appropriate)?
- How can you show your audience that you are thankful for the time they spent with you?
Are there other ways you can show your audience that you care?
Caring for and attending to our guests is not through the music alone. You have both traded time and money for this performance. Keep them coming back for more by infusing love into your experience design. Your audience will thank you for it.
Audience-centric programming is not new. The way you decide to implement it, however, is exciting and innovative. I would love to hear about your ideas regarding creative experience design. Have you tried anything that really worked? Or, what about the really special performance you used as a brainstorming tool? What made it so special? Share it in the comments below. Are you applying this challenge to your upcoming performance? Tweet me at @mezzoihnen so I can share it far and wide.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”
― Kahlil Gibran, Le Prophète