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Sometimes you can draw parallels from your real life to a TV show or series. For event planners, you may be surprised to learn that planning an event has more in common with the Netflix hit Stranger Things than you might think…
Netflix has been on a roll recently with its popular original TV shows with contenders such as Fuller House, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. This hasn’t changed since the arrival of the latest “Stranger Things” which topped the previous Marvel fan favorites; Daredevil and Jessica Jones and pipped them to the post at third place in the ratings chart for Netflix originals.
The series aired in July to an audience of over 8.2 million and is centered on a young boy’s disappearance and the arrival of a telekinetic girl. With talks of season 2 already in the works (and why wouldn’t they with their latest success) you may be wondering: what has this got to do with event planning? It turns out, quite a bit and here’s why *Spoiler’s ahead*.
Picking a Quirky Cast
Having the right team around you for planning and executing an event is imperative and this is something the Duffer Brothers clearly excelled at in the show. With the likes of Winona Ryder, Natalia Dyer and Millie Bobby Brown the cast is an eclectic bunch that help to bring the show to life!
In the same way, motivated and upbeat staff that also represent your brand or image is key to an event and can help to handle guests properly giving a better, all-round experience.
Finding Unusual Superheroes
While the cast run around trying to find Will they stumble upon some amazing people such as the telekinetic Eleven (El). Event planning can similarly resemble the government agents trying to track them down as you try to get the best guest speakers or entertainment at an event.
Although it may be hard, try to put every effort into speakers or entertainers because they can make or break the attitude of the guests as well as sometimes being the reason they come at all! Finding something that is going to suit everyone is a tireless task that can often be the hardest part of event planning (as hard as finding superheroes maybe?).
It Can Make You Crazy
Event planning is stressful and it can keep you up at night, worrying about whether it will be successful, dealing with mistakes or even making sure that everything is organized just the way you want it.
With government conspiracies, secret labs and disappearing children, Stranger things can mess with your brain too and with a host of powers and another world involved it can get a little hard to deal with, just don’t be like Dr. Brenner and go insane – take it easy and try to take the planning one step at a time.
Creating a Great Story
A narrative or theme for events often help piece things together whether it is as subtle as a color scheme or as obvious as a costume theme you should have an idea or plan to base your event around. This is the same as Stranger Things that wouldn’t have even gotten off the ground without a decent and engaging story that keeps the audience entertained and interested.
The Small Things Count
Throughout the show you will see nod’s to Stephen King and other influences of the Duffer Brothers including background posters for “The Thing” as well as characters reading the author’s novels. These are all subtle creative points that collectively help to create a good aesthetic and work towards the theme.
Sometimes it is the little things such as favors or centerpieces that can give a great experience and be remembered the most by guests when planning an event so don’t forget them, it’s all about the details!
Stranger Things has an amazing eclectic soundtrack that suits what is happening on screen while also in keeping with the era that it is set which adds to the watching experience and can resonate better with their audience who can be transported back to their childhood as soon as a song comes on.
This couldn’t be truer for event planning as well, the right music can help to set the mood and break up any silences leaving things feeling less awkward. Some events require constant music and others just need a light background song but either way it can help to create the atmosphere. Even if you have a conference or business speaker, don’t be afraid to have some quiet waiting music to settle the audience, or intro music as they take the podium. Music is important regardless of the type of event.
Almost every episode of Stranger Things left us with a cliff hanger, and what does it make you want to do? Watch more! I bet you’ve probably already Googled if there’s going to be a season 2 and this is the same for event planning.
If you can, try linking previous or future events together as a series so that people know you regularly organize events and what they can expect from you. This is also a great way to get people to follow you on social media and develop an online community because they want to know more about what you have to offer. Having the next event date planned and announcing details as one event comes to a close can also help to bring people back and spreads the word more effective (why do you think Netflix releases all of the episodes at once – it wants you binging, talking about it and begging for more).
There Are Things You Can’t Control
Where do we even start! There are outside forces, government agencies and other worlds’ in Stranger Things that the characters have little chance of controlling (no matter how hard they try) and this is especially true of event planning.
Weather, cancellations or unavailability can wreak havoc while planning an event and make you feel like everything is conspiring against you. Try your best to make backup plans (e.g. have a gazebo on standby if rain is due or lots of ice if a heatwave is coming) but remember that sometimes things are out of your control and you’ll need to wing it and deal with them as they come, that can separate the good event planners from the best.
Helpful To Be Telekinetic
Don’t you all wish that you could think really hard and “things” would happen? Imagine how easy it would be to move objects with your mind and do a host of tasks all at once! While this isn’t exactly found in event planning (we don’t think?!) it takes a lot of multitasking and flexibility to get things done and organize large scale events and being telekinetic would definitely help! (Maybe give Eleven a call?)
Keeping it Interesting
Stranger Things is definitely full of twists and turns that have you grabbing your seat (and in some places a little scared!) this is all a part of the experience and keeps everyone guessing. While it is important that people know what to expect from an event, surprising attendees can create everlasting moments that make your event memorable. Make sure you add a few surprises to make your events unique and so that there is a reason for regular attendees to come back.
It’s OK to Go Retro
The 80’s genre has definitely been done before and Stranger Things is no different. It gives a nod to the 1980’s culture as well as directors like Spielberg (the officers use the same costumes as jaws) and thrillers such as “The Thing”. It has something extra though that doesn’t feel like you’re watching old re-runs and the Duffer Brothers brings the era to life in a new and exciting way by adding the sci-fi element.
When planning an event it is ok to use ideas that have been done before, not every event has to be an original idea but you have to make it your own. Add a twist or new direction or even combine themes and bring them to life in a unique way, there is a reason they are called classics and it’s because everyone loves them.
From Eggo waffles to Danny’s burger, El eats it all in Stranger Things because it turns out that being telekinetic makes you hungry. Food is also used in many scenes to slow the pace and allow conversations between the characters, bringing them together more.
The same can be said at events, if you are looking to integrate guests and get them talking then sit down meals and buffets are always a great option. People who eat together tend to talk more and have a starting point to break the ice so it can be easier to approach other guests. Food really does bring people together.
Contingencies for Gatecrashers
How many times do the government agents crash through the doors trying to get what they are looking for? Or how many times do people interrupt during the scenes? (The answer is a lot) but almost always there is some sort of plan (or at least a great escape route) and this is something to consider during event planning. As a planner you will always try to come up with a solution for those who are uninvited or any attendees who are going to be a problem, whether it’s sitting chatty people at tables together or hiring extra security there is always contingencies for the naughty ones to consider.
Poorly organized or planned events can be a horror show and that’s definitely something you don’t want in common with Stranger Things. Leaving your attendees feeling flat and like they have wasted their time ruins any chance for the future so leave the horror to the Stranger Things writers and take a few pointers from the show!