February 14, 2011 by Jeff Hurt
Are you old enough to remember the children’s television show Romper Room?
It ran in the United States from 1954 to 1994. It also was televised in Australia, Canada, Japan, Puerto Rico, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Romper Room was aimed at children ages five and under.
Each Romper Room program opened with the infamous Jack-in-the-Box and the Pop Goes the Weasel theme song.
After the theme song, the hostess would greet and welcome viewers. Then she would lead everyone in the pledge of allegiance. Viewers were encouraged to place their hand over their heart and recite the pledge with the hostess.
The program would continue with a cast of characters and kids engaging in games, songs and stories. Viewers were encouraged to join in the fun and do the same thing wherever they were.
Lesson: Hybrid events should start each live-streamed session with a greeting to the remote viewers. Then as the face-to-face audience participates in exercises, the virtual host can encourage remote attendees to do the same wherever they are.
With today’s technology, face-to-face small groups can even Skype in remote attendees to their tables to participate.
At the end of each episode, the hostess would look through her magic mirror and recite the following rhyme:
Romper, bomper, stomper boo.
Tell me, tell me, tell me, do.
Magic Mirror, tell me today,
Have all my friends had fun at play?
Then she would call out the names of the children she saw in televisionland.
“I see Sammy and Jennifer and Jeff and Kim and Freddy.” The hostess would read a long list of first names.
Kids were encouraged to mail in their names to be read on air.
I remember as a child waiting for my name to be called. And when she did, I was elated. I had been noticed. Acknowledged. I belonged. I connected.
Lesson: Remote attendees want to feel like they are part of the event experience. They want to be acknowledged. They want to connect. They want to belong.
As the hybrid event organizer, check to see who is logged into the live stream. View the twitter hashtag stream for names.
Then have your virtual moderator call out some of the remote attendees’ name. Thank them for participating. Thank them for attending. Tell them you see them. Answer their questions.
Romper Room was a rare children’s TV show that was franchised and syndicated. Local television affiliates, like Los Angeles and New York, could produce their own versions of the show instead of airing the national telecast.
Lesson: When producing a hybrid event, consider working with some local regional and state chapters to host their own event at the same time. Create a viewer’s party kit that includes instructions on how to access the live stream, questions for the local audience to discuss after viewing the live stream and an evaluation. Make your hybrid event localized.
If you remember Romper Room, what are some other lessons hybrid event organizers could learn from the kids show? What other children’s TV show lessons could apply to virtual events?
Filed Under: Conference Education, Hybrid & Virtual
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When I read this article a big grin spread across my face! You see, a little known fact about me is that when I was a child I was on Romper room twice.
The first time I was on everything went great and the show producers liked me so much I was invited back. (I have no idea what I did to impress them … too young)
The second time I was on the program for some odd reason I decided that I needed to chase the girls on the show around the studio, while we were on the air. Sadly, that little mistake was the end of my Romper room and Television career 🙂
I am sure there is a lesson here somewhere, but I look at this experience as a pleasant one, in which, yes I got kicked off Romper Room, but I also learned to chase girls at a very early age.
LOL — McCurry out!
Wow, I laughed out loud. Your story created a great visual for me. I can just see you as a little boy chasing girls on Romper Room and the floor manager saying, “Switch the camera to that view. Keep Mike out of the picture!” Thanks for sharing that with us. I am sure all will smile when they read it.
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