Have You Ever?

Today, I went to a concert at the fairly new Jazz At Lincoln Center Rose Hall. It’s located on floors 5-7 of the Time Warner Center on the newly designed Columbus Circle here in New York. I attended a $200/seat tribute to the honorees of the Israel Cultural Arts Society. I was amazed at the talent on the roster and felt lucky to be there.The program boasted performances by some of the most revered musicians on the classical scene anywhere.  I felt privileged to be on the list of comped ticket holders courtesy a colleague in Public Relations.

It turned out that the headliners weren’t actually participating in the program as players, but only as recipients of awards. When the time came to present, sure enough the people in the PlayBill turned up on stage but only for a few half prepared words of thanks in the form of an awkward few minutes of unrehearsed, unchoreographed speeches. I was so disappointed I didn’t stay for the second half.

I mention this entire situation because it hits home to me the value of setting up situations so they run smoothly, look and sound terrific and Wow the audience  (what we, in production refer to as “production value”), but most importantly, to deliver on a promised performance of any kind.

My friends make fun of my preparation techniques. I am not a casual hostess (every cracker comes out on its own platter) and have historically cared greatly about the way I present nearly anything. Today, I often get into debates with friends about interview situations and whether we sometimes come off too something…clever, quick, funny, sharp, savvy, computer literate (Gawd forbid), fashionable, or how about too tall, too young (my niece – who are we kidding) or perhaps worst of all, too old. When recruiters are asked how to conduct oneself in an interview they often lead off by saying “just be yourself”.

Over the years, I’ve found that that is THE most profound oversimplification of the situation and often, doesn’t work. A perfect example of this was at today’s presentation. It lacked panache and pre-thought.  All the gaping holes in the prep showed. And I couldn’t help thinking to myself,
“what do you expect for a fundraiser”.

NOT TRUE. Many of us have produced a lot of fund raisers. I certainly have. And nobody I ever worked with would or should ever  compromise under the cloak of non-profit status.