Radio City Music Hall just announced the cancellation of the new Rockettes show, “Hearts and Light.’” After two years in production, a week before opening night, and a huge marketing campaign, why did the producers pull the plug? Not because of the extraordinary dance numbers, or fantastic set, or the robust ticket sales, but, because at its heart, the story line lacked cohesiveness and energy. The show’s narrative was described as “flat and even a mess.”
By all accounts, this news was a shock to the cast, crew and production team. How did they not know there was a problem? If only this kind of setback were limited to very rare occurrences, along the lines of Haley’s Comet. Unfortunately, this type of result happens in public presentations all too often: great intentions and expectations, but no “there, there.”
Writ large, the Rockettes story is a lesson in what not to do. Here are five signs that your next presentation might also be in jeopardy:
1) The only people supporting your preparation are your direct reports.
2) You are fixated on designing super cool graphics to accompany your presentation rather than structure, flow, and messaging.
3) You refuse to videotape yourself because seeing yourself on video unleashes a torrent of negativity.
4) You cannot clearly state (with passion) the purpose of your presentation.
5) You are focused on the adoration of your audience yet you have done nothing to fully understand who they are or what they need to hear.
It’s heartbreaking for those who have invested so much of their time, creativity and sweat into a new production only to step on the brakes. And yet, it is also shocking that they got this far without realizing there was no compelling narrative or dynamism.
Practice and preparation are two legs of the three-legged stool. Feedback is the third and equally important leg. Without it, the stool collapses. High kicks and cute costumes are not enough.
What adjustments do you need to make before your next show?
Charlotte and Barbara