If you’re a parent (or perhaps a university student) you will probably be familiar with ‘The Tweenies’. Four colourful characters, Bella, Milo, Fizz and Jake, are the stars of the hit BBC children’s show, which first aired in 1999 and is still being shown today.
It is a little known fact that I once wrote scripts for ‘The Tweenies’ and I am therefore well placed to explain exactly how this show is like a good event! Bear with me here…
1. It has a narrative
When the idea for ‘The Tweenies’ was conceived, the intention was for it to differ from other pre-school shows by having a narrative running throughout. “It’s going to be like ‘Friends’ but for kids,” the producer told me.
This meant that rather than switching from one random element to another, as many other kids shows did at that time, each episode would have a storyline carried through from beginning to end. It also had background stories about the characters that were referred to throughout the series – for example; Bella spends a lot of time staying with her granny.
Likewise, a good event should be held together by a strong and compelling narrative. What are the overall messages you are trying to convey with the event? What is its theme? Do you take your attendees on a journey? Is there a strong finish?
2. It’s brought alive with storytelling
In addition to overall narrative, ‘The Tweenies’ effectively explains complex concepts to very young children through imaginative storytelling. Each episode also features ‘Story Time’, when a book is read to the characters. The book always reflects the theme or topic of the episode and further reinforces the message.
Storytelling is a technique increasingly being used at conferences. Using real life examples and case studies is a great way to bring brands to life and create something tangible that the audience will both understand and remember.
3. The show is enhanced with video
‘The Tweenies’ is not just about the live action; each episode features ‘Telly Time’ when the characters watch a short video filmed on location in the ‘outside world’. This goes hand-in-hand with storytelling, providing further information on that day’s topic.
Used at events, video is a great way to capture a brand’s story and engage with attendees – just be sure to keep it short and to the point, like ‘The Tweenies’ does!
4. It utilises technology
A core element of ‘The Tweenies’ is the ‘Tweenie Clock’, an interactive device which the characters can press to get information about the next activity on the schedule. “Tweenie Clock, where will it stop?” they ask, as the clock bursts into life. It can land on one of six lights – it could be ‘Messy Time’ when the characters will indulge in a bit of crafting or maybe ‘Surprise Time’ when anything could happen. Using the clock helps build anticipation about what’s coming next.
This is much like using an interactive app at an event to help attendees discover what’s on, where and provide other useful information.
5. It includes team building
The characters in ‘The Tweenies’ always undertake activities together, from singing songs and dancing, to role-play and making things. This helps them bond, discover things about each other and find common interests.
A good event should help its attendees to do this, too, either through facilitated networking or quick team building activities, such as group drumming.
6. It’s not all about learning
Although each episode has a strong educational message, the focus of ‘The Tweenies’ is firmly on fun. The characters learn through song, play and story. A good event will always deliver its learning content in an inspiring and fun way and not bore delegates to death with long, staid, PowerPoint presentations.
7. It’s interactive
‘The Tweenies’ is not designed as a one-way viewing experience; its young viewers are always invited to get up and join in with the singing and actions. “Hey, hey, are you ready to play? Come along and play with The Tweenies,” says the theme tune. In addition, there are online resources, which support the show for parents and children to access after viewing.
Including interactive elements in your event will keep attendees engaged and could keep your message alive afterwards.
8. It takes place in an inspiring space
“The Tweenies” set, which is supposed to be a playgroup, is full of colour. It excites visually with bold décor and a mixture of textures. There are different areas for different activities, a place to relax with comfy beanbags, and attractive outdoor space.
Similarly, an event venue can either inspire or bore. Choosing a great venue in the first instance will give you immediate brownie points with attendees, then you can add extra design elements to really excite.
9. There’s always someone on hand to help
Finally, ‘The Tweenies’ wouldn’t be ‘The Tweenies’ without Max and Judy who look after the young characters at playgroup. They are always on hand to help, guiding the children in their activities, answering their questions and ensuring they don’t get into any trouble.
A good event has plenty of staff on site to do the same for attendees… although it might be stretching it to ask them to sing and dance for them!
So, you see, there are indeed many similarities which can be drawn between this children’s show and a good event. In truth, I think we’re all just big kids and we want to have fun as much as we want to advance ourselves professionally. Do you agree?