Have you ever heard the phrase “the medium is the message” was coined in the Sixties, by the famous media scholar Marshall McLuhan? I have always enjoyed the phrase’s pithy pseudo-intellectual tone, but to be honest, I often forget what it really means. Ironically, I heard the phrase recently, while watching a rerun of AMC’s hit series Mad Men. The writers of Mad Men brilliantly used the phrase with the context of the show, while at the same time making me once again realize how the phrase applies to live events and meetings.
First a little background. The phrase “the medium is the message” was coined in the Sixties, by the famous media scholar the time a maverick media critic, McLuhan used the phrase to explain the inextricable connection to the type of “medium” used and the audience’s perception of the message. In other words – it is not what you say, but the medium you choose to say it with.
So, how does this phrase apply to meeting and event planners? Well, just replace the word “medium” with the word “meeting,” and you quickly realize what you already know — the “Meeting is the Message.” The mediums used during your meetings and your live events are the message – not the content. Everything you present during your meetings and events is an opportunity to influence your audience or lose your audience. A live event medium includes various elements ranging from the lighting design, staging, table setting, sound quality, to the written invitation. If one of the medium’s components lacks quality — then your message is compromised and an opportunity to persuade is lost.
I personally see meetings and live events compromised, when a client forgoes producing a quality award or highlight video, in place of the “guy-in-the-office-who-just-got-the-new-IPhone-with-the-$1.99-video-editing-app” video.The minute you compromise a component of your live event medium — your message is diminished. And it does not end there, because there are even more dangers still lurking, such as the quality of the sound, the ambiance of the lighting and the clarity of the IMAG which combine to influence the perception of meeting’s message.
Now, I would be remiss to only point out a problem and not present a possible solution, but first, let me also qualify that my advice only applies to live event production, because hotel and food service are not my expertise. With that said, here it goes. First, I would suggest that when dealing with live event production companies that you let them know that you are interested in a “bundled” live event production package, and I don’t mean combining your internet with your home phone. I mean combining the pre-produced media used for your live event, into a bundle of production services in a live event package. Although more expensive, a live event production bundle can include discounted pre-produced videos, motion graphics, PowerPoint/Keynote branding and stage, and lighting. Second, do not be afraid to say no to bad video or bad graphics. After all, it is not about the content – it’s about the medium.
Obviously, budgeting influences production values, but don’t let that stop you from remembering that a live event medium has many components and the more control you have — the more successful the meeting’s message will be. And if I haven’t made this point perfectly clear already — a medium will affect the audience, not by its content, but by the characteristics of the medium itself. In other words — THE MEETING IS THE MESSAGE.