The Emmy Awards Show’s Big Mistake – or How To Quickly Lose Any Audience

By Merna Skinner (Words at Work) - No Comments

The 2013 Emmy Awards Show failed to entertain – in part, because the host, Neil Patrick Harris, significantly missed the mark, starting with his opening number. Harris, who has proven himself an engaging, entertaining host of other awards shows, failed his audience during this year’s broadcast, not once, not twice, but three times.

Harris and the show’s writers ignored a basic tenet of effective communicators -to put the focus on your audience and what they care about – not on yourself and your concerns.

For over 11 minutes Harris’ opening number focused on himself – as one former host after another climbed on stage to offer Harris hosting advice. What someone should have said to him was to put the focus of attention where it should be – on the audience and the nominees – not on himself as host.

Harris also failed by not giving the audience what they anticipated from him – an opening song and dance number. Effective communicators should surprise their audience, but never disappoint. And while the opening was different, it wasn’t as entertaining as a musical montage might have been.

As if feeling guilty, the show’s writers did eventually add a song and dance number and, with a bit of a snarky wink, called it “The Number in the Middle of the Show.” It was lively, entertaining and too late.

Finally, Harris again repeated his “self-focus” theme with a nearly three minute skit performed by his cast mates from his TV show How I Met Your Mother. With sobering facial expressions, the actors looked straight into the camera and discussed Harris’ EHD or “Excessive Host Disorder.” Again, we didn’t care.

By the end, Harris had spent 15 minutes of a 90 minute show talking about his role as host. Interestingly, the very first words of the show’s opening came from TV monitors playing scenes from past TV shows.  Those first words: “Enjoy the night, it’s all about you.”  If only the “You” referred to the audience and not Neil Patrick Harris.

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Merna Skinner
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Satori Communications, Inc.