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Anatomy of a Show: The 2nd Annual Telly Awards

We recently hosted our annual employee awards show, The Tellys! Named after our affable mascot Telly, the show gives us a chance to nominate fellow teammates who exude our core values and award those who exceed expectations.

Themed after the Oscars (but without any scandalous slaps involved), we included segments such as humorous hosting bits from our People team, features from teammates about their favorite memories of being at Brandlive in the past year, and, of course, showcasing the winners of the awards.

Creating Your Own Engaging Show

The Tellys are a prime example of how you can use Brandlive to bring the magic of television to work, and how you can use your own original and creative spin on a tried-and-true format to keep your audience tuned-in. 

And listen, we get it: it’s a lot easier said than done to simply be “original and creative” and to produce shows your team will be excited to watch. 

But we have a secret: it isn’t hard if you know the formula.

Read on for a more detailed outline as to how we structured The Tellys – and how you can do the same for your organization’s big moment events, too.

Pre-Show Preparation

Why The Tellys?

With all shows, you need to identify why you’re hosting it in the first place. For us, the point of our annual awards ceremony is to celebrate our people. Our team is full of folks who are experts in their fields, so we wanted to reward them with acknowledgement and recognition…and the nominees and winners got some dough, too. 

We also host The Tellys annually because we feel it’s important to create rituals within your organization. Our familiar yearly cadence of celebrating the team sets up the expectation and excitement around our early-spring award show; it’s something we work for, look forward to, and bond over.

The Awards

The centerpiece of our show is the four value-based awards that come directly from our core values – which also have a convenient acronym of TACO to easily remember them.

  • Turn it up: For most shows and presenters, energy is everything. That first 15 seconds often defines the next hour. Setting the bar high and finding the next level is what we do. And as a team, we’re amplified when we work together to reach it, knowing that there are always new ways to attain max volume – and there’s always one person that turns it up more than the rest.
  • Always on: Our customers count on us to always be on for them; on time, on schedule and on point, both live on air and on demand. And since standing still doesn’t let us or our customers stand out, we are constantly striving to make the things we touch just a little bit better, each and every day. This award acknowledges the teammate who is always on – morning, noon and night.
  • Create magic: Magic happens when we take risks, stay curious, and push the envelope, so this award recognizes the person who lives this every day. We want our customers and audiences to feel special about the magic moments we are helping them create. We believe that creativity and magic is inside all of us, and it’s our job to tap into it and bring it to life.
  • Own it: Leadership requires owning it, big time. Whether it’s helping our customers produce a show, shipping code, closing deals, or taking the lead on any project, we believe excellence comes from clear ownership, following through, and being accountable if things don’t go as well as hoped. The person who’s acknowledged for owning it is constantly learning, growing, and inspiring those around them.

This year, we also added an additional 5th award, The Telly. We have so many incredible employees, and many were nominated multiple times for multiple awards. So, we created an award just for this occasion. The people nominated for The Telly live and breathe our TACOs in so many ways, every single day, and our team wanted to recognize them with this extra special award.

The Tellys mood board, inspired by the Oscars and other big award shows; the golden, elemental look and feel influenced the design of our graphic package.

Run of Show Framework

Every show needs a run of show; that is, an outline that influences how, exactly, the show will go. Our north star for The Tellys was the Oscars, so we wrote our run of show to mimic theirs. We created a mood board inspired by the Oscars and other big award shows, and used the golden, elemental look and feel to design our graphic package (including overlays, backgrounds, transitions, and lower thirds) as well as inspire our music and sound effects. 

Once we had our run of show dialed-in (with wiggle room for the unexpected, of course), we started to hone in our plans and segments. We worked with teammates who expressed interest in participating in our creative bits, and stayed open to ideas evolving and adapting. Knowing that everyone involved had a good time making it made it all the better, too. 

The Tellys in Greenroom
Building the Tellys in Greenroom is simple, and allows for nearly unlimited customizations.

Behind the Scenes Production

The majority of The Tellys was shot live in the 2nd floor studio inside of our Portland, Oregon office. The MCs used a two camera set-up and professional lights, and had a video wall behind them with our Oscars-inspired background. A similar set-up was used to pre-record the voiceovers for all of the award’s nominees, as well.

Outside of the studio, we used Greenroom to connect with teammates who won awards and who were working remote when featured in our Magic Moments segment. We also had a production team member use a drone on the rooftop of the Brandlive office to shoot the cold open with our CEO Sam Kolbert-Hyle, featuring sweeping views of Mississippi Avenue and Downtown Portland.

Overall, The Tellys were an expertly blended hybrid show, mixing together live and pre-recorded segments. Coming together in a few days, with just a couple hours of editing, The Tellys is an example of how having the right team and the right tech can make elevated events a breeze. 

One of the Brandlive production studios, located on the 2nd floor of our office in Portland, Oregon.

Anatomy of The Tellys

Tellys Red Carpet: Pre-Recorded Intro Video

The show really begins at the red carpet; to watch the stars saunter in, check out their fashion, and have some banter to get the audience hyped for the awards themselves. For The Tellys, we channeled our inner actors with this Oscar parody, creating an opening that would be immediately engaging, using scripted jokes and characters from various departments. 

The red carpet was our first of a few pre-recorded segments, a pro-level production tactic to bring more ease into your live show. Pre-recording segments means you can nail them exactly as you intended, though there are certainly times when going live offers more value. Deciding which segments should be pre-recorded or live will look different based on the presenters and the show itself, but there are a couple of best practices to keep in mind.

Welcome to The Tellys: Countdown Timer and Opener

After the intro, we had our countdown timer that opened The Tellys. This welcomed the audience with a more traditional entrance that the audience would come to expect from an award show, letting them know that the show was officially starting. This opening reflected our overall look and feel inspired by the Oscars, and was complete with theatrical fanfare and golden graphics.

The Tellys were produced using Greenroom; here, you can see all of the shots built using Showbuilder, a feature within Greenroom.

Cold Open: Standout Drone Shot

Our cold open started the show with a bang: a unique, rooftop drone shot with the CEO and views of Portland. As we touched on earlier, Sam and a member of the video production team took to the top of our building to start the show with a story about our logo, our mascot (and hero) Telly, and how our TACO values came to be turned into company awards during last year’s inaugural Tellys.

Right before the show, Sam told the people who were watching it live in the office (about 30 people huddled in one of our living rooms at our office around a huge TV) that he was headed to the roof. This worked and people actually thought the cold open was live, running to the window to see if they could get a peak at the drone high above. The best pre-recorded bits don’t have to feel pre-recorded. 

MC Intro and Banter: Live in the Studio

The Tellys was hosted by two beloved members of the Brandlive team, Amy and Steph – our VP of People & Culture and Director of Experience Ops. Together with the help of a few comedic geniuses on the team, they came up with Oscars-esque jokes, poking fun at memorable events of the year, snafus from staff, and a few inside jokes (you know, you just had to be there). 

All of this build up ultimately led to the presentation of the five awards we gave out during the show. Our MCs spent time going through what each category means, who the nominees were, and, finally, introducing the winner live in the Greenroom to accept their award. 

A behind the scenes look of Amy and Steph opening an envelope revealing the name of an award winner, live in the Brandlive production studio during The Tellys.

2021 Box Office Stats: Audience Engagement

Impressive metrics is something to be proud of, and it’s possible to showcase them in an entertaining way that won’t make people start to doze off. In fact, we rounded up some fun stats and business highlights from the past year and presented them in a way to spark audience participation. We encouraged the team to put their guess in the chat for the number of new employees added, deals closed, Greenrooms created, Slack messages and Zoom minutes (can you believe that one was over 3 million?).

This box office stats segment is another example of a clever way to break up the bulk of the show’s content (in our case, the five awards) to keep your audience excited for what’s coming next.

Magic Moments Over the Year: Additional Show Segments for Excitement

Another segment we used to break up the show was called Magic Moments Over the Year, where we talked to employees and asked them about their favorite moment from the past year. We used music and storytelling to kick-off this portion of The Tellys, showing an iconic scene from The Sandlot and the song “This Magic Moment,” which was the perfect segue into our aptly named segment. 

Adding to our ethos around creating rituals, we wanted to include this segment to showcase 15 of our teammates – from newbies to veterans, from those local in Portland to those halfway around the world – who exemplified humor and emotion in their own unique ways. These displays of authenticity create real connection throughout the entire organization, adding to the benefit and effectiveness of ritual. Along with The Tellys itself and our core awards, this segment is one that is also easily repeatable year after year.

Thank You and Outro: Keeping With the Theme

Finally, we ended the show with a big thanks to our team, plus a video outro that stayed on-theme with the rest of our golden Oscars aesthetic; Bruno Mars’ hit song “24K Magic.” Ending a show with a music video is a perfect way to end a meeting or event on a positive note, securing your theme, and signaling that the show is over and it’s time to exit (or in this case, dance!). 

Sizzle Reel: Leave a Lasting Impression

After the curtain has closed, create a sizzle reel (like the one shown at the top) with highlights from the show that you can share with your audience, or even on social media to get people excited for your future events.

Watch The Tellys!

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