Here's how to take control, in a non-confrontational way, as a gesture of cooperation.
I described my “take the beach” approach again at a recent event tech check, and I’m yet to find someone who knows the obscure reference. The approach is about “controlled collaboration”, even though the source material is hardly collaborative.
Do you remember the ad that appeared in the back of some comic books, “The InsultThat Made a Man Out of ‘Mac’”? The gist: skinny guy at the beach is bullied by bigger guy, humiliated in front of love interest, goes home, buys Charles Atlas’ book, gets muscles, returns to beat up bigger guy, becomes the “Hero of the Beach”.
Why is this relevant to a tech check at a corporate event? I prepare for, and arrive at, events with the intention that I’m the “hero of the beach”. I'm not being confrontational or overbearing, and it can be effective in any role you play in event planning and production.
It’s not about conflict, it’s about taking control of the situation.
The ad resonated with me not because of the method, but the attitude. Instead of letting that moment haunt him, or risk facing a similar situation in the future, the skinny kid took action. It still has the same meaning for me to this day, and has nothing to do with becoming a “manly man”.
As a hired host or entertainer, there are often times when production elements related to sound, lighting, staging, visuals, etc… have not been provided as I had expected. You may have this same experience in your role. Even with sophisticated operations and big budgets, because there’s a lot of moving parts, things can slip through the cracks.
I arrive early and take the initiative to connect directly with other team members who will be providing the elements important to my role. Most event profs bake this into their ROS (Run of Show). But, I don't make assumptions that everything is in proper order, and even the most experienced event professionals can’t read your mind about the specifics that are important to you.
If the lighting isn’t sufficient, the mics aren’t set up where I want them, the AV tech doesn’t actually have the URL for my App or the mp3s for my Quiz Show, or there’s a large fern blocking the view from audience left, taking control means we’ll have an opportunity to figure out solutions before I’m actually up on stage. This makes the audience and the client much happier than if we troubleshoot in real-time, or with only minutes to spare.
That’s why I believe when you “take the beach” to ensure you’ve got what you need to present the best event or show possible, it’s a collaboration, not being self-centred. Other people working the event are juggling many other elements, and your initiative isn’t antagonistic. Taking control, even if you’re not in charge of the production, improves the event experience, which is in everyone’s best interests.
Unlike “Mac” in the Charles Atlas ad, however, when I’m literally “taking the beach”, it’s a much more serene scenario, and it’s not a mic that I’m holding in my hand, but, instead, something much more delicious.
Here's an image of the ad, btw: