Last night’s Academy Awards ceremony was a reminder to communicators about how important environment is to the communication process. Based on the evening’s Twitter feed, the most impressive element of the Oscars was the creative visual environment. The producers created an excellent environment for the broadcast, with funny videos, enormous screens, great lighting, holograms, and music. (I especially loved the way videos were shown on massive, arching screens.)
These elements were impressive, but they competed with, and stole the show from, the communicators. No one was tweeting anything positive about James Franco. The tweets about Anne Hathaway were nice, but left you feeling like Paula had just told her how pretty she looked before Simon told her never to do this again. They did not interact well with the environment. They seemed to be in competition with it, and the set won. Hands down.
As the communicator, your message can be enhanced as you interact with the visual environment. Every element of your services should move toward one idea, and your communication should be the apex of the idea. Do not rely on cool sets, graphics, videos, and music to communicate your message for you.
It’s not a good thing if people are complimenting the creativity, instead of the creativity complementing your message. At the end of the day, you don’t want to hear people say, “That (fill-in-the-blank creative element) was so cool!” The reason for creative elements in church services (and awards shows) is so that people will say, “That (fill-in-the-blank creative element) really helped me understand what you were saying.”