Have you ever attended a business meeting and experienced any or all of the following?
The meeting starts 15 minutes late. The CEO takes the stage, taps the microphone to make sure it’s working, searches for their remote to advance the visuals, suddenly a video starts to play, the stage lights go out and the video finally stops 10 seconds later, OOPS! He is standing in the dark for what seems like an eternity. The microphone is not working and the CEO shouts “Hey… is this mic on?” Finally he advances to the first visual and to his surprise, it is the marketing presentation, not his opening. There is a long pause, the stage lights come back on and he finally screams out “What is going on here…What are we missing?
The answer is…
A PRODUCER! The Producer is like an orchestra conductor who fine tunes his musicians before the performance and spends countless hours rehearsing.
Just like a conductor, the Producer’s role is to ensure that every element of the show runs flawlessly. Ultimately, it is the Producer’s job to understand the show flow, manage the presenter’s content and staff the event with the best “A Team” technicians to operate the technology. To accomplish this, a detailed Run of Show is created prior to the event. Rehearsals are conducted with each presenter so they understand the flow, where they are entering the stage, and so they can approve their visuals, they know who they are introducing and where to exit the stage. Rehearsals should always include a real walk through of the event, not just a few minutes of standing on stage practicing the presentation. Everyone that goes on stage should have their own time to review, practice and ask questions of the Producer. Without this individual attention, there’s no telling what a presenter may do. I think we have all been in THAT meeting!
The producer’s role is also to call the show cue by cue. From walk-in music, recorded announcements, house lighting, stage lighting, video rolls, play on music for the presenters and keeping the meeting on time – the Producer is the one person that understands all elements of the event. One of the more critical responsibilities is making sure the AV technicians (Audio, Video, Lighting, Cameras, Graphics Operator, etc.) are all in sync with the flow of the meeting. Each technician is given an ROS (Run of Show) sheet with every cue on it. Often the original ROS is revised during rehearsals, updated, and the final ROS is given to each technician prior to the show and for the technical rehearsals that happen before any presenters take the stage. See a sample ROS >
It may seem like a tremendous amount of responsibility…and it is! Your event Producer is the one person that can make or break a successful event. The next time you are considering whether or not a Producer is really necessary, ask yourself this one simple question: “What will happen if this event does NOT go flawlessly?” If the answer is “nothing,” then you probably don’t need a Producer for your event. If the answer is “something bad,” then by all means make sure you have a seasoned Producer running your show.
David Carr has been a Producer in the live events industry for over 30 years.