Olympic Ceremonies Offer Lessons
Four Things Planners Can Learn from the Olympics Opening Ceremony
While watching the spectacular opening ceremony for the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, I remember thinking 1) What kind of planning must have gone into pulling off this visionary, flawlessly executed event? and 2) Pity poor London for having to follow in its tracks.
As one of the most highly watched events in the world—not to mention a major source of national pride—the pressure to plan a fabulous opening ceremony is, to put it mildly, intense. It’s hard to imagine London improving on Beijing’s stellar job, but from what I’ve been reading in the press, it seems this year’s ceremony, orchestrated by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle, will be suitably grand.
Here are some details about Friday’s ceremony that planners can apply to their own events:
1) Choose an inspired and appropriate theme
Organizers have selected a suitably dramatic, epic and inspired work as their thematic muse: Shakespeare’s The Tempest. There are few details on what exactly that theme will entail other than the ceremony title—“The Isles of Wonder”—but it’s hard to argue with the logic behind the choice. For an event of this scope, the organizing committee needed to choose something grandly theatrical, and it doesn’t get more grandly theatrical than a Shakespearian romantic dramedy with mystical undertones.
2) Drum up interest by keeping things secret
The organizing committee has been keeping mum on details about the event, even going so far as to start a Twitter hashtag, #savethesurprise, to keep people in the know from leaking information. The result of this close-to-the-vest approach? Lots of feverish speculation in the press and curiosity from the masses. The lesson here: Don’t give everything away about what you have in store.
3) In with the old, in with the new
The opening component of the ceremony promises to be fresh and inspired: a pastoral landscape set-piece with live animals and fake clouds. It will be unlike anything any other country has done before, with some no-doubt groundbreaking techie features. But once the “Wow” element is done, the ceremony will proceed as it has for years, with the passing of the torch, introduction of athletes and other tried-and-true traditions. Planners know all too well the importance of making their events fresh and exciting while never veering too far from the customs and rituals attendees expect.
4) Don’t scrimp on entertainment
When it comes to entertainment, you want something that’ll leave a lasting impact. Friday’s ceremony promises to do just that by featuring none other than British rock god Paul McCartney. While you may not be able to nab the Beatle for one of your events, it nonetheless proves that it’s always smart to aim high.
Intrigued? Make sure to tune into the ceremony Friday. As always, it promises to be a memorable, stirring kick-off to the fabulous Olympic games.
You also won’t want to miss international meetings coverage in our September issue, including information on convening in the U.K. And to get ready for Friday, check out this list of the five best opening ceremonies ever. (Guess what the No. 1 pick is?)
Image: Director Danny Boyle is organizing the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic games.