So you’ve booked an entertainer. Now all you have to do is sit back and let him do his job, right?
Not so fast!
As you might guess, I’ve attended hundreds of corporate events as a featured entertainer and hundreds more as a guest, and I’ve seen pretty much the entire range of venues and staging. One of the things I’ve learned is that no matter how great your entertainer or speaker is, there are simple things you can do as event planner to make the show not just good, but spectacular.
1)Tell all your guests how incredible the entertainment is going to be. Hype is contagious, and what your guests experience depends a lot on how you present it to them. So use every opportunity available to create high expectations.
2)Be sure that an important representative of your company or organization introduces the entertainer personally. From time to time the host of an event feels awkward speaking in public and asks that the entertainer introduce himself or that a DJ read an introduction from the back of the room. This subconsciously signals to the audience that the entertainer isn’t important and isn’t worth paying attention to. If you are the host of an event, the attitude to take is that the entertainer is your personal gift to the audience. Address the audience from the perspective that you are about to give them something so special they will be talking about it for years.
3)Read the introduction exactly the way the entertainer wrote it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen executives step up to the podium and read a performer’s introduction as if he were trying out a comedy routine. I think the people who do this are generally insecure speaking in public, and using jokes to cover it. Performers and speakers write their introductions in order to create a specific set of expecations in the minds of the audience. By adlibbing or, worse, mocking what is written in an introduction, the intoducer signals to the audience that what they are about to see isn’t really worth their time or attention.
4)Close the bar! If you want people to believe that they’re about to experience something truly special, the first thing to do is eliminate distractions. An open bar in the back of the room is probably the biggest distraction most after dinner speakers and entertainers face. Now, you might be thinking, “but I want my guests to have fun.” Of course, but that’s why you hired the entertainer in the first place. Most after dinner entertainers will be on from 45 to 50 minutes. Simply announce a last call about 10 minutes prior to the show, then open up the bar again afterwards.
5)Schedule the entertainment before the boring part of the meeting. If awards are going to be presented, consider presenting them after the entertainment. If a non-professional speaker is going to be offering a few words, put the entertainment on before them. You might be thinking, “but I’d like to finish the evening with a bang” In fact, it’s very difficult to bring the energy of the room up once it’s been allowed to sink. Much better to let the entertainer build that energy and then let it fuel the more personal presentations that will follow later.