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Briefing 101: The Art of Briefing Your Contestants Essay
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Briefing 101: The Art of Briefing Your Contestants Essay
By Jon Cudo, Editor Gameops.com

In any game presentation there are things you control, and things you don't. The unexpected can pleasantly surprise you and create that water cooler moment in the game or it can bite you. The goal is to control as much as you can and allow the unforgettable moments to happen, but happen within your plans, not at the expense of them.

Picking contestants and briefing them should be in the column of things you control, yet even the best laid plans can get messy when contestants go from their back stage briefing to participating in front of your packed house.

When working with contestants, I have a straight-forward Three Part Plan for Success that you can use with any contest. Backstage, walk through the contest and their role with them carefully and follow these three steps. The first two you probably already do (at least one of them, I hope). The third is the key to limiting something going wrong because they don't know what's expected of them.

Part 1: Explain the contest.
Part 2: Explain the contest again.
Part 3: Have the contestant explain it all back to you.

It's that simple.

The best way to know if someone really gets something is to have them teach it back to you. This plan lets you tell them what they need to know. It then allows you to go over it again, including any of the important details. Then you turn the classroom jujitsu on the student, and let the student become the teacher.

If they can explain it to you, where they go, when they start, what they do and how it ends, it's a pretty good bet they can do it. Most contests include opportunities for you or your staff to assist contestants during the time out, but you will start the time out with participants who know the basics inside and out.

That's it. Three parts and you are off to the races (so to speak).

More helpful hints (the Ups)

  • Look It Up

If you are using props, let the contestants see them. If they are racing around "a giant soda can", if you are standing next to the can, they aren't left wondering what it looks like or how big it is.

  • Feel It Up

If they are shooting or throwing something, let them handle it. Some indemnified contests do not allow you to let the contestants practice, but if that's not the case there is no reason not to let them get comfortable with the tools and toys.

  • Talk It Up

Talk to them or have a staffer engage with them. Again, some people are not often in front of thousands of people as the center of attention. Nerves are often the case of contestants getting confused or not performing well. Having someone to talk to as they wait can help. They know they have someone in their corner and they can ask additional questions. Don't lose sight of the fact that going on the court may be ordinary for you, it's likely extraordinary for them.

  • Draw It Up

Showing exactly on your court where people will enter, where they will stand, where props might be and where they will exit when it's all over can only help their understanding. As noted in a previous spotlight, Gameops.com offers dry erase white boards with permanent sporting fields imprinted on them. These are a great way to show layouts of props and they allow you to wipe your directions off and let the contestant explain it back to you (complete with them redrawing the prop placement).

  • Dress It Up

Make sure your contestant is dressed for success. Are they wearing shoes that are suitable for the activity? Do you need to hold their jacket or purse while they are taking part? Allowing them to practice can also help sort this out.

  • Sign Them Up

Sign the waiver. Make it clear and easy to read. No fan should be on your field without signing it. Be sure a lawyer reviews your template.

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