Here are the secrets a Family Event Director should follow EXACTLY. I have conducted over a thousand crowd shows in every kind of church and situation across America. I promise, if you break even ONE of these guidelines, your event will suffer.
None of these points are complicated, but they WILL impact your event if you don’t follow them. They are event killers. The secret to conducting an effective, high-octane family production is learning how to avoid event killers.
IMPORTANT: The success of your event is not based on the games, music, props, shouts, or any other one element. The secret of success is HOW YOU BLEND IT ALL TOGETHER. It’s the way you conduct the crowd show. You can have great games, cool music and whatever else, but if you can’t make it mesh together effectively, the event will suffer.
These simple secrets will help you avoid mistakes that will harm your event. They have been learned and tested over 15 years of conducting high-energy family events. You don’t have to make the same mistakes we did. Learn how to avoid these event killers and your event is all but guaranteed to be a success. These secrets are not complicated, but some may surprise you.
Here they are…
1. Trying to start with too much excitement. This comes as a shock to some. But if the start of your event is too pumped-up, the crowd will not understand where you are going. It’s like a train ride. You have to get everyone on board BEFORE you leave the station. Start slow and build from there. Make sure everyone understands how the games work. Explain the scoring, timing, shouts and the role of each person on stage. It’s more important to be clear than to be crazy. First help them understand, then they will get excited.
2. Talking too much. The director should keep his/her words few, but sharp. Do NOT be in love with the sound of your own voice. If you talk too much, your words will have a decreasing impact. If you don’t know what to say, keep quiet. Don’t be preachy. Let the shouts and the games do most of the communicating.
3. Dysfunctional sound tech. Your sound tech has to understand what to do and when to do it. He must also be willing to maintain a proper volume. No fades, in or out. Choppy is better than smooth. Music should start and stop abruptly. If you are not sure your sound tech understands what to do, he doesn’t. You MUST practice starting and stopping the sound prior to the event. If your sound tech is confused, your event is toast. Proper sound tech training (yes, we know he thinks he knows it all already) is a huge leap toward a super-cool event.
4. A star director. The director’s job is to “direct” the action, music and volunteer selection. He is NOT the focus. The director should be enthusiastic but not an over-the-top attention hound. Focus the crowd on the action and message.
5. Laying down a tarp. NEVER lay down a tarp or plastic sheet on the stage. PERIOD. Safety is the main reason. Tarps are slippery. It is the number one way to cause someone to trip. If your games can be played on a tarp without anyone tripping then your games are too bland. If you cannot do the kind of games you want on your platform, then find another place to conduct the event. It is better to vacuum after the event then to take someone to the hospital with a broken arm. In 15 years Kidz Blitz has never had an injury. This is the main reason.
6. Distorted microphone. If the crowd cannot hear your voice clearly over the applause/cheering, you will have little power to conduct the event. You must control the energy of the crowd, and you do that with your words. A lousy microphone will make that very difficult.
7. Use SHOUTS to engage the whole crowd. Everyone wants to be part of the action, but it simply isn’t possible to involve every single person in a stage game. The solution: bring the competition to the crowd. Involve them in earning points for their team. Do this by shouting out the first few words in a key point and then pointing to one side of the crowd for them to repeat. Follow with a few more words and pointing to the other side of the crowd, and so on. Example:
God does not give us
a spirit of fear
but of power
and of love.
The side that yells the loudest wins a point for their team.
8. Trying to control the crowd by stopping their energy. This might be the biggest secret of all. Here’s how it works. If kids are shouting/talking excessively during inappropriate times, you will NEVER regain control if you use a phrase like “OK, I need your attention,” “listen up,” “can we have it quiet?” etc. They came to your event to express excitement/energy. The key is to direct the energy, not stop it. If you made everything clear at the start of the event, then they know two powerful things. One, they know that you will pick someone to go on stage. Two, they know that the shouts are worth points. If you sense that you might lose control of the kids in the crowd here are some phrases that will help.
- Stand on the floor directly in front of one side and say, “Here we go, Blue Team. (Start a shout.)” Then repeat that on the Green Team. Standing directly in front of them will help get their attention. Channeling their energy into a “shout” will give them something to say together. It’s not a problem for them to talk out loud, you just need them to say something together to re-establish focus on the event.
- Use the 4 most powerful words a kid can hear, “I need a volunteer!” Then you can add, if necessary, “I’m looking for someone sitting up straight, not bothering their neighbor. I need just the right person.” Do this as your eyes scan back and forth over the crowd.
9. Families seated apart. It helps to have families sit together during an event like this. Why? Because there are times when you need a kid to volunteer their dad, a dad to volunteer his wife, etc. If they are not sitting together this becomes a SLOW process because you are trying to figure out who is pointing to who on the other side of the auditorium. Have someone at all doors instructing families to sit together as they come in.
10. Getting rattled. Once you have done the preparation, go with the flow. Never look like you’re at a loss about what to do. The crowd won’t be alarmed by anything if you don’t look alarmed. For instance, if a stage manger forgets to set up something, call his attention to it in a fun way. Laugh. Then go on. Have fun with it.
11. Misplaced props. Nothing–as in NOTHING–is more embarrassing than setting up the next game/challenge only to realize you left an important prop in the storage room. Double-check every piece that you need.
12. Bad lighting. Lighting doesn’t have to be like a Vegas show. It is most important that the stage is well lit where the action will take place. It is best when you can focus the lighting to the front center. Dim or eliminate lighting behind the stage and in the corners. Dim the house lights BEFORE people come in. If the stage is brighter than the house lights, kids will automatically focus their attention to the front. Special effect lighting is cool, but will not make or break your event. People are not coming to see your fancy lights; they are coming to experience the action. Make sure they can see it.
13. Throwing stuff into the crowd. NEVER throw lots of stuff into the crowd at the same time. Kids WILL fight over it. If you throw–or blast–a t-shirt into the crowd, do it quickly and never telegraph where you are going to throw/shoot it. Never give them a chance to group together where they think it’s going to land. That insures pulling and tugging for the item. NEVER EVER EVER throw candy into a crowd of kids, especially in a seated area.
14. Spotlighting the one who lost. Never use the words “lost” or “won.” It takes the focus from the point of the game and places it on the competition. After a game is over, use phrases like “both did great; but by a little, the point goes to the ___ team!” Or to the one who “lost” say, “you did a great job, but I guess we have to give a point to the ___ team.” The crowd will appreciate your use of words to soften the competitive element.
15. Neglect to pray. Ask God to do more through you than you can do on your own.