I’m at the Elite Meetings conference right now – where high-end hotels meet high-end meeting planners. We’re in Florida, so the party last night included exotic birds and alligators. The bird loved me. I kept my distance from Herbert the alligator! I guess if they hold this event in Alaska, they’ll bring in a Polar Bear. Yikes!
Ok, on with the comedy writing blog. . .The next important question I like to ask clients about their group so that I can write specific material for them is:
What are the attendees’ biggest headaches and challenges? This will surprise you. What you may think is the worst part of their job, might not really be the worst part. If it’s a company, they may say something like the copier NEVER works. A lot of times they’ll say, well, I’m trying to think of what’s funny. I say leave that to me. Just tell me what your headaches are and I’ll work with that. And don’t let them stop with “budget problems” because everyone has those.

And a sister to question to that is, What is going on in the industry that I should know about? This will again give you some insight into headaches in the industry. And again, you may be surprised on what side of the issue they are on. When I did a show for the National Association of Blind Merchants they said that one of the biggest pushes in the industry was that a government group (I think it was a government group) was trying to change the size of each denomination of paper currency so that blind people could tell a five dollar bill from a 10, 20, etc. Surprisingly enough, the Blind Merchants were AGAINST this. They said we don’t need to spend time and energy with this project. Their problem isn’t that they can’t tell a 5 from a 10, they already know how to do that. Their problem is that they want more money, not telling bills apart. Now, if I hadn’t probed further, I might have written jokes that were pro-changing the size of currency, which would have gotten everything off to a bad start!

So investigate a little further and find out the real challenges both in their jobs and in their industry. Coming up in the next blog, a few more questions you can ask your client.

Aside from industry and day-to-day headaches, also ask about the theme of the event. Almost every conference has a theme, so you certainly want to find out what that is – whether it’s “go get ‘em” or “we can do it” or whatever. BUT more importantly, you want to ask HOW did they come up with that theme? The committee may have some funny logic as to why that them, and you’re off to the races with some great material. Armed with this information, you can also come up with some funny themes that the committee thought of but rejected or some variations on the theme they have. For example, if the theme is “Good to Great” (based on the popular book) you can have some fun that it’s better than last year’s “Mediocre to Good” theme OR that the competition has the theme “Mediocre to Good.”