Being a big Sopranos fan I was glued to the TV this past Sunday night and like almost everyone else I know, I had my own theories of how this historic television series was going to end. Would Tony flip or get arrested? Or would the Brooklyn crew (or worse, a friend from within his own crew) finally whack him?If you were one of the 11 million viewers who saw it, or if you haven’t been living under a rock all week, you know that the ending wasn’t really an ending. After a tense build up of a scene, with Tony and his family gathering in a local restaurant surrounded by menacing looking characters and the familiar strains of Steve Perry belting our “Don’t Stop Believing,” the screen just went blank. It’s an ending that has left many people feeling disappointed and let down. I have even heard some people say they wasted their time watching the show and getting emotionally involved with the characters, only to be let down in the end.
And so I asked myself, as I do with almost everything in life, what can I learn from this that applies to our business? Here’s what I came away with:
Give careful consideration to how you end your events.
Look at the Sopranos. For seven seasons this series has been critically acclaimed, won award after award and literally changed the way television shows are made. Viewers watched religiously, bought the DVDs as soon as they became available and talked about “Tony” and “Sil” as if they were family. And yet with one disappointing (to some people) ending, it has lost much of its luster. People literally feel betrayed.
We run the same risk. People will remember your ending so much more than they will the rest of the night. So if you put all of your time and effort and programming genius into the first three hours and forty-five minutes of your event and then limp out the door in the last fifteen minutes, don’t be surprised if the guests have the same reaction as the loyal Soprano’s viewers: “That’s it?”
I always try to pick an ending that will leave them clamoring for more. When not told otherwise by my client, I will use an upbeat song rather than a ballad. I like a song whose message works as a last song (“Last Dance,” “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” etc) and I like to emphasize and encourage applause and recognition for the guests of honor. At a wedding I will usually mention where the couple is honeymooning (information I gathered when I met with them) and ask their family and friends to send them off with some love. If the videographer is still taping I’ll get a wave goodbye and often finish the night with the guests in a circle around the couple, clapping and singing.
This is the last impression people are going to have of this celebration and I want it to be a good one. I want it to be a lasting one. I want to leave people feeling good.
If only David Chase had thought the same things.
Till next week . . .
Mike Walter’s emceeing career began in his hometown of Queens, New York in 1984. With an eye towards radio, Mike attended Connecticut School of Broadcasting in 1988 where he was chosen from his class of 25 as “Most Likely to Succeed.” After school, Mike helped to develop a staff of DJs from 12 to over 50 by training new recruits and handling an increasingly complex schedule. In early 1993, Mike felt an increasing desire to venture out on his own and by March of that year he became a partner in a much smaller Mobile DJ company, Elite Entertainment. He quickly had an impact on the Elite staff, imposing his high standards of emceeing and DJing. Mike bought out his partner in 1998 and Elite Entertainment has continued its growth (21 emcees in 2006) and sets the standard for excellence in New Jersey. Mike has always believed in training talent from within and his message has helped show hundreds of DJs from across the country that it is possible to grow their companies without sacrificing quality.
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