5 Lessons for Eventprofs From the Oscars

We all have a kind of love/hate relationship with this iconic event. We love to watch but we hate so many things about it.

There is no question that the Oscars have been struggling for awhile. Finding the right host, fumbling through controversy and an audience just plain tired of the same-old, same old are only some of the problems.

Just like many of us who also run events year over year, they are faced with the challenge of delivering against their core purpose (honouring the film industry) and yet constantly searching for the magic that will give new life to a recurring event.

Despite that they are still phenomenally successful and continuously boast one of the largest audiences of any given year.

There are many lessons for eventprofs to take away.


  1. End your event on time.

People hate it when an event of any sort runs late.

Every year the Oscars run long. Sometimes VERY long. People complain/comment on it all the time and it’s one of the reasons many don’t bother watching.

End your event at the published time. Make it a priority. It shows respect for your guests and people love it.


  1. Surprise them!

We all love to be surprised and wowed. Isn’t that why (in part at least) we tune into the Oscars. It’s live! There is a chance that something fantastic will happen. A wild and crazy outfit, a wacky acceptance speech, a spellbinding performance or an upset win?

While we may not be able to rely on “chance” to provide the surprises, think about what you can do to “wow” your guests. What surprise or eyebrow-raising change can you provide that keeps your guests from feeling like they’ve done this all before.

It doesn’t have to be huge. Pleasing guests with small and unexpected touches can have just as much impact as something big.

Whatever you do…it will keep them guessing and keep them coming back.


  1. Stay relevant

Don’t lose touch with what your guests/audience want and need. Ask them.

Times change, needs change and tastes change. Give them the same-old, same old at your own risk.

The Oscar’s experienced their lowest audience in 6 – 8 years (depending on which report your read) in 2016. And we all know why (controversies aside). It’s long and boring and many of the award categories don’t interest us in the least.

People want more. The Oscars need to tap into the very thing that keeps the movie industry fresh and alive. New technology, stunning special effects exceptional promotion.

Work hard at keeping your event fresh and relevant and you will be rewarded with loyal attendees and new audiences. It isn’t always easy.

But change is critical!


  1. Create a compelling event and nothing will keep them away

Yes the Oscars may have had the lowest ratings in years however…it will easily remain television’s top-rated non-sports program of the year.


Because we love the movies.

And we want our favourite movie and our favourite actor to win because somehow it feels like thanking them for the entertainment they have provided.

And we love to dream. We dream of what if would be like to be a star and wear those fabulous clothes and all those diamonds and have a litany of folks pampering us til we look that stunning. We want to arrive in a limo and walk the red carpet and feel that special.

The Oscars let us glimpse at the life of a star. And we come back every year to feel that again.

If you create a compelling event, nothing will keep people away. Keep close to the core purpose of your event but reach beyond and let people dream a little.


  1. Not everything you do will work

No matter what new changes you implement, not everything will work. That’s no reason to stop trying.

This year the Oscars introduced scrolling thank-you’s to shorten speech time (fail) a new order to the award presentations (no impact) and offered more behind-the-scenes glimpses (not enough to make much of an impression). But they tried. And they will keep trying. Because it’s important.

Don’t be discouraged if something you try isn’t the big hit you hoped it would be. Keep trying. Isn’t that one of the things we love about running events? We get to do it again and we get to keep on trying. And when our latest change is a huge success it will be time to start work on a new one!


Whether it’s a charity ball or a trade show, the core purpose of your event won’t change. If that core purpose serves your audience well, they will show up time and time again.

But you can go a long way to ensuring that happens by keeping it relevant and fresh and a little surprising every time.

It’s up to you!




Post by Margaret Johnston, eventswork.com

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.


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