Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Why events must end

Have you noticed that everyone is talking about storytelling? Define your story arc and the paragraphs of your life / job / brand will float into place.

It hasn't escaped the guys at Live Union that I'm finding it hard to get through a meeting without mentioning the 'event narrative'.

Russell Davies has a brilliant piece in this month's Wired (the article isn't online) about the importance of endings. Russell writes, "we're used to the narrative power of endings in books, films or music, but lots of digital experiences just sprawl on forever because they can."

Endings are obviously inherent to live events, yet it strikes me we often spend more time thinking about how we can keep them going through digital channels than how we can conclude them with a memorable finale.

Back to Russell, "...endings aren't just important to narrative. They matter because our brains pay them disproportionate attention."

I was thinking about this at today's Panasonic Olympic event in Trafalgar Square. There were some four person booths in which you could watch a 3D video of the Beijing opening ceremony. It was free. I shouldn't really complain. But I will, a little bit.

The problem was the experience's lack of coherent narrative - there was no beginning, you queued, got processed by security guards, then you had a good middle, then you were ejected back onto the street. No memorable ending, no Panasonic person asking you what you thought or information on the TVs, or clever twist - nothing for the brain to pay disproportionate attention to.