I’ve worked a lot of back stages in conferences, theatre productions, concerts and a myriad of stage performances. Backstage has its own special ambience and set of experiences. That’s why watching the live streaming of the backstage at the Emmys was probably far more interesting than watching what was happening in front of the camera. And the producers of the Emmys catered to that view with a 3-Camera view and ‘Director’s Cut’ of the backstage events specially streamed live on the Emmys website this year.
So instead of seeing Julia Roberts stepping out for a couple of minutes to award the best actor Emmy, you got to see her greet others, pat their arms, grab a drink and watch different portions of the show on the green room big screen TV. You saw Jay Leno walk through making a phone call and then turn and smile and chat with someone who grabbed his attention. You watched the announcer and her assistant do the voiceovers as the stars in front of them gather in the wings and peek through the curtains. You got to see what happened backstage and out in the auditorium during the live commercial breaks. You saw the scores of presenters, award-winners and performers preparing and debriefing after their performances, while other scores of producers, stage hands, lighting people, make-up artists, announcers and more organised the hundreds of thousands of details required to run such an enormous undertaking.
And you heard and saw that particular backstage effect: a mix of quiet talk, gestures, laughter and happiness at a job going well or at little gaffes, watching the other performers while you prep, while focusing on getting a great performance out there. The high 5s, the handing off between people, the ‘stars’ being directed by the juniors who know what they’re doing. Cooperation. Ebullience. Successful partnering.
Too often our organisations, and leaders, think it’s all about what happens out front. But what happens ‘out there’ is only a product of what happens ‘back there’. All the preparation, planning, highs and lows that lead to a successful performance.
The ‘magic’ only happens when you put in the effort. And I always found that whether in front or out back, it was always a blast. I also made sure it was the case whenever I was in charge – and that required planning, preparation and spot on performance.
Make sure it’s a blast when you’re in charge too.
© 2014 Peter J. McLean
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