Three Ways to Make a Memorable First Impression

With so many distractions today on an audience, a General Session has to make an immediate impact on the gathered attendees, as well as a remote audience … no easy feat. When those audiences are large, from 4,000 to 25,000 attendees, and the session is being shown across multiple venues, the task becomes all the more daunting. The answer, Chris Drury, president and chief creative officer, has discovered, is innovation at scale.

general sesionsChris Drury and team, implementing innovation at scale

“The message needs to be big, images need to be simple and dramatic, and staging and technology needs to be sophisticated and powerful,” he said, defining innovation at scale. “The most important goal is to create content and messaging that engages everyone whether they are in the first row or the last seat in the arena. To make that personal connection we use a combination of various techniques and technologies such as multi-media, live talent, video, animations, multi-screen, second-screen, massive scenic, mobile, and huge visual elements that clearly communicate the content.”

Here are three different General Sessions in which those techniques were employed.

general sessions

general sessions

To launch a new in-store program for Walmart, it was all show, rather than tell. At the General Session, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, the reveal of a 275,000-square-foot store was an effective use of innovation at scale.

At a given point in the General Session, after the key players of Walmart had finished talking about the new store and how it would look, the five screens that were on the stage were flown up and out revealing an actual store. The entire audience was invited to up on stage walk through the set and into the store.

general sessions

IBM InterConnect

At IBM InterConnect2016 we wanted to show IBM’s concept of “outthinking limits” by taking a 27-piece orchestra and choir beyond just a performance. What would connect with this audience would be something that pushed limits. While the opening began with an orchestra playing, it wasn’t until we revealed it at the end of the piece that the audience understood they’d been listening to the score live in real time and in perfect sync with the on-screen images. The moment created an inspiring and emotional connection between the message and the audience. To extend it we “sync’d” the content from the three giant screens in the main arena venue (MGM) live with three matching screens in Mandalay Bay Event Center using multi-line fiber optic connections. That way the audience in the second venue was not just “watching” it but was connected to the event.

general sessions

IBM Insight

What happens when the lights in the arena go down, voices quiet and a 130-foot screen springs to life with beautiful animations, powerful video and a story about how the world is moving toward an economy based on data, analytics and insight?  Minds start to think, pulses start to race, imagination kicks in. But then the magic happens.  At the end of that multi-media experience the front projection screen becomes transparent and a whole other dimension is revealed that includes a deep stage, two giant rear projection surfaces that fill with brilliant images and graphic animations, and a live storyteller who leads us into the next phase of the IBM Insight story. The effect is live 3D created using a series of perforated and rear projection surfaces, dramatic lighting and stagecraft.

That is a memorable first impression.

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