I just finished watching all 20 episodes of Peter Morgan‘s The Crown. Have you seen it? It’s got a lot to offer: family and political drama, intelligence, luxury, taste, inside view behind the curtain of royalty , stellar cast and jaw-dropping settings. And it’s (mostly) educational. My favorite character is Prince Phillip. I’m told he’s the favorite in real UK life as well.
What really blew my socks off was the opening scene, aka “opening credits“. That’s the introduction to each episode in any television series. (It’s the part with the credits.)
Opening credits are by director Patrick Clair who’s made a career out of opening credits. See what he did for True Detective and Orange is the New Black. These 1-minute segments are true Project Wow and top composers are adding their own wow.
Thing is, opening credits used to be simply a required part of the production. It was at the level of “check the boxes nothing burger” creativity and perceived value. No longer.
Taking it from project humdrum to Project Wow:
Patrick Clair explains the change like this:
…television executives had increasingly realised how these titles could become key to drawing people into a series, giving shows a “distinctive visual identity”, and were willing to invest months of time and millions of pounds in these one-minute sequences.
In an age of Amazon and Netflix, where streaming platforms are unconstrained by time or commercial demands, “There’s so much enthusiasm these days for us to come up with the most bizarre and visually distinctive ideas,” added Clair. (The Guardian, US version, Nov. 11, 2016)
Where is the opportunity in your project(s) to take the “opening credits” to the next level of WOW? Don’t restructure the whole company, pick something small that’s completely under your control and transform that tiny element into something Wow.
Example 1: Email Wow
My super coach Susan Hyatt often answers my emails with a short video. Even if she’s in her pj’s. She’s taken a routine mini communication project and makes it wow her client, aka me.
Even before working with Susan, I have inserted short videos of me into technical online training modules – adding humanity and humor to “check the box” software training.
(Hint: upgrading the communication channel may be an easy wow.)
Example 2: Meeting Wow
Add wow to a routine meeting. Use these 25 Imaginative Conversation starters. Print them, cut them out and have everyone pick a question (without reading it first.)
Don’t waste time using meetings for status updates! There are a million better ways to do that.
(Hint: adding a quick “ice breaker” is a good way to add some wow to a routine meeting. That’s in the case you can’t actually cancel the meeting.)
Example 3: Presentation Wow
How can your make it fun for your audience?
Would it be better as a panel?
Bring cookies from Sugar Bakeshop?
If making presentations is a big part of your job, know that the bar has been raised. Nancy Duarte’s team sums up presentation trends, including the key importance of understanding and communicating data clearly and effectively. Great communicators use personal stories and theatrical flair to engage their audiences.
It’s not enough to be on the Top Dog’s favorite project. That’s a hollow victory even if you do get it. What do YOU value in a project? What makes it fun for YOU?
Your Project Wow may be sitting on your desk right now
Take the projects that are in front of you and find a way to add some wow factor.
Here’s a closing thought from Erwin McManus, who’s pastor of a church in Los Angeles.
“Be ready when you get there. Don’t make the mistake of living your life waiting for good things to happen — make good things happen. Be faithful in the small things that do not matter to you as much and treat them with the same level of respect and important as the big things connected to your hopes and dreams.” Erwin McManus in the highly-recommended The Last Arrow Save Nothing for the Next Life.