Lessons in Event Planning From Hollywood

The Golden Globes kicked off the 2014 awards season last Sunday. And while the show’s main attractions are the fashion and celebrities, it also provides plenty of food for thought for meeting planners as they go about executing their next events.

A few nights back I planted myself in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn in tow to watch the Golden Globes, which close to 21 million people did as well. And for me, like many others, one of main reasons to watch was to get a look at the fashion. (Side note: Some of my favorite looks of the night belonged to Kate Beckinsale, Olivia Wilde, Margot Robbie, and Julianna Margulies.) But as the show went on, I couldn’t help but put my association meetings blogger hat on.

Imagine the possibilities if these award shows made a more concerted effort to continue the conversation with their TV audiences in social media spaces.

Here are five things I saw at the Golden Globes—which just so happen to be presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association—that I think  associations can apply to event planning.

Timing (and seating charts) matter. If you watched the show even for a short time, you probably noticed how long it took many of the winners to get to the stage, having to get through what seemed like a never-ending maze of tables. (Case in point: It took close to 45 seconds for Bryan Cranston, who won for his role as Walter White in AMC’s Breaking Bad, to make it to the front.) Would planners have been better off having all nominees sit closer to the stage? Another option: Have all those nominated in a specific category stand (or sit) closer to the front when it’s time for that category’s winner to be announced. This delay in getting to the stage also seemed to lead to shortened acceptance speeches for the winners.

Speaking of acceptance speeches, they’re important. The good, the bad, the ugly: Viewers pretty much saw it all that night. (Speeches from Jacqueline Bisset and Matthew McConaughey left many people talking.) Setting aside whether they were good or bad, it’s a good reminder of how important it is to for speakers (or potential speakers, in the case of these nominees) to be prepared. After all, each of these nominees was one of five in a category, meaning each had a 20 percent chance of winning. Even if an underdog, it’s better to go in with something prepared. After all, everyone should want to avoid a Michael Bay moment at a meeting or event.

A good host (or hosts) adds to the experience. Returning hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were an overwhelming hit, from their opening monologue to Poehler acting as Fey’s adult son “Randy.” They kept the three-hour show moving with their humor and charm, creating a relaxing and entertaining environment for attendees, nominees, and viewers. Anyone who has the job of hosting an event or presenting a session can take a few cues from them.

Attendees like the opportunity to network and chat among themselves. The Golden Globes are considered a more casual awards show. Attendees sit at round tables, and throughout the show you could see them sipping wine and champagne and chatting with fellow tablemates. I noticed attendees were standing up and moving to other tables to talk to those around the room as the show either went to commercial break or came back from it. This serves as a prime example of why letting attendees network, chat, and learn from one another during your meeting needs to be a top priority.

Community happens online, too. Like many things in Hollywood, the Golden Globes got the public talking. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook were on fire, with people—attendees included—offering up their own commentary and photos of what they loved and hated. It’s a good reminder that meeting planners need to account for and engage their online-only participants, too. Imagine the possibilities if these award shows made a more concerted effort to continue the conversation with their TV audiences in social media spaces.

What other takeaways or ideas do you get from big, star-studded occasions like the Golden Globes when it comes to event planning? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Trophies given out during the 2014 Golden Globes. (via the Golden Globes Facebook page)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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