1. Content is king. It all starts with content. Without great speakers who can deliver, you're climbing uphill. 2. Know your audience. Aim small in terms of your audience. Be VERY specific in terms of who you are creating an experience for. Aim big, miss big. Aim small, miss small.
3. Creativity many times requires conflict, complication and frustration. Everyone wants to know how to deliver creatively. But getting there is many times a course in patience, conflict resolution, and many hours of frustration. Great ideas and creative programming is the result most of the time of healthy tension and debate over many months. It's a process.
4. Find talent everywhere. If you can't hire someone full-time, then bring em in as a consultant, or at least just for a day to bring fresh ideas and different perspective. When you live in the middle of planning and producing every day, it's good to have someone from the outside.
5. Understand the difference between producing, directing, and leading. For Catalyst, each of these roles are different people. And they require different kinds of people. (more on this later) It's important to not just have the same person filling these strategic areas, unless your event is basic and not in need of a comprehensive production team.
6. In programming, focus relentlessly on transitions. Many times producers focus so much on the speaking, or the key production parts, that they leave the transitions to chance. It's essential to have transitions that are seamless, experiential, and connect with the audience.
7. Engage all of the senses. Taste, Touch, Smell, Seeing, Hearing. Hit all of them as much as possible. Most events or experiences only focus on Seeing and Hearing. Disney is the best I've seen at this.
8. Video/screens can be one of your greatest assets, or biggest barriers. Everyone thinks that they have to do IMAG screens and lots of video elements, but anymore, if it's not HD quality and really well done, it can be a hindrance. The biggest lesson- if you are leveraging video, then invest heavily in the quality.
9. A proper balance of challenge/light/funny/serious is a good grid for the rhythm of your programming. Lots of combinations on these four options. Always build in margin through humor and intentional moments of light-heartedness. Otherwise people will check out.
10. Learn from those who are more talented, have more money, create bigger events, and know more. Regardless of industry or background, learn from those who are the experts. We're never too good or too big or too experienced to learn from someone else.