December 21, 2020
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Great Virtual Events Can Be About Love, Actually!

As we all wind down this week, reflect on this year, and think about 2021, I thought I’d share something on a bit of a lighter note, related to my favorite holiday movie and the work so many of us have a common interest in... events.

Here are the top 5 things that I love about the movie Love Actually and how they can be inspiration for your next event in 2021:

  1. Hugh Grant’s opening narration sets up the film: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed. But I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere."
    ​​​What could be an opening narration for your next event, read by just the right voice that draws your audience in, makes them care, tugs at their heart strings and tunes them into the frequency about what this event represents? How great would that be?
  2. Multiple vignettes, interwoven stories, characters, plot lines and creative tension. There are 10 in all. (BTW, there were originally 14 mini-stories in the original script, but that turned out to be too many). The young character Sam’s love interest, his father, Liam Neeson’s friendship with the Prime Minister’s sister, who is betrayed by her husband’s interest in his assistant who is later seen living next door to the love interest of the Prime Minister, who is his assistant at 10 Downing Street.
    Think now about how you could develop characters that you interweave together as part of a synthetic narrative and story line for your event. For those of you in the medical field, a doctor, a patient, a hospital, an EMT, a crisis, and an inspiring outcome of heroic work could be knitted together into a story that unfolds over three days.
  3. Hugh Grant as the British Prime Minister, giving an inspirational speech defending the honor of the UK to the U.S. president citing Harry Potter, David Beckham, The Beatles and William Shakespeare. It was emotional, funny, and had a clear purpose.
    One such short, pointed and powerful voice once or twice each day would go a long way in speaking to the pride, emotion and relevance of your audience. Speak for them, speak to them and select issues that give them agency. What regulation, social issue, and source of collective pride or injustice has your industry dealt with this year? Deliver a 90-second inspirational talk to elevate the spirits of your audience.
  4. Given that Love Actually was released in 2003, I don’t know if “pop-up” surprises like a band singing The Beatles song, All You Need is Love at a wedding was a first, but it did get the ball rolling for emotional surprise interruptions.
    What emotional, meaningful, or fun interstitials could you “pop-in” to your 2021 event? Music, a poem, a short video, meditation, stretching exercises, yoga… the list of ideas is limited only by your imagination and your knowledge of your audience. If you want to keep your audience’s attention, keep them guessing when the next surprise will pop-up.
  5. The climactic Christmas Pageant. This cinematic gem brings so many characters, story lines and emotions together through good scripting, camera angles, and direction. All of the ten love vignettes were stitched together or were soon to be. Just the kind of ending a good holiday movie should deliver.
    Most virtual events don’t have a pre-determined conclusion that an audience is waiting for. For starters, we have to help them care how your event is going to turn out. Great virtual events, like all events, must have an outcome, a conclusion, a problem solved and a story arc that brings your event narrative to a crescendo and a ‘wow’ ending.

To each of you who read this blog I wish you a wonderful holiday.

Regardless of what you believe, what or who you worship or don’t, and no matter how you will enjoy these days off we’re all about to experience, I want you to know that I am grateful for you and thankful for being part of our shared community.

With warmest thoughts to you and your loved ones.

don signature

Don Neal
Founder & CEO

360 Live Media

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