Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing Entertainment for Corporate Events
Corporate events are more than just a party or a chance to trade handshakes, business cards, and introductions – they’re also a prime opportunity to foster brand awareness and goodwill in an out-of-office setting. That’s why everything from the color of the tablecloths to the length of the menu is carefully crafted to impress and delight guests – and in the center of it all is the crown jewel of the experience: the entertainment.
With so much pressure to produce a memorable event, where do you begin your search for the best corporate event entertainment? A simple list of do’s and don’ts for corporate event entertainment will help start you off on the right foot. In general, the more thought and consideration you give to the building blocks of your event, the better the eventual soiree will be.
Planning Best Practices: An Overview
What does your ideal corporate event look like? Although it may seem like a fairly simple premise for event planners, a successful event is measured by many aspects – with a visual impression being among one of the most crucial. Whether you’re trying to determine if your goals realistically align with your budget or simply require some basic event-planning guidelines, read on for essential info to turn your vision into a reality:
- Do: Reach out for help, ideas, and budget assistance with your event entertainment setup.
Want something really show-stopping, but feel like you’re drawing a blank on ideas? Don’t hesitate to brainstorm with your corporate event A/V services provider. They can consider your theme, colors, or even your cause to help determine which features best represent your brand message and journey.
- Don’t: Decide to “go without” some sort of theme for your event
No matter how dry or matter-of-fact your industry may be, an event is a chance to showcase how much interest, control, and expertise your company offers to potential clients and partners. A theme helps to put your best foot forward, addresses ‘appropriate attire’ issues (e.g., the classic all-white party), and as a general rule of thumb, associates your company with an excellent time. A theme also makes finding the perfect entertainer that much easier: when you know what genre to search for, you’ll find an appropriate entertainer that much more quickly.
Audio / Visual Best Practices
How your entertainment is perceived by your audience needs to be carefully addressed during the planning phase of any event, regardless of musical genre or type of performance. Whether you’re featuring a celebrity DJ or a jazz quintet, don’t run the risk of your attendees getting frustrated while straining to listen due to poor audio technology, or bending around a support pole to see as a result of careless organization.
- Do: Check out the view and acoustics from the “worst” seats in the house
Nobody wants to miss the action when it comes to a hyped main event – so make sure they don’t. If there is a gap in visuals or sound, determine if you can bridge the gap with tools such as simulcast screens or speakers distributed throughout the space. If need be, your audio-visual corporate event service provider may be able to make recommendations for specialized listening or viewing equipment, or even apps to help your attendees feel more connected.
- Don’t: Assume your entertainment of choice will fit perfectly in every venue
Always hold a sound check prior to the start of the event, as far out as possible, to give you time to make any necessary adjustments in a pinch. You don’t want to find out as your main event takes the stage that half the audience can’t see or hear them clearly. Certain acts – such as magicians, acoustic musicians, and dance artists – are ideal for smaller venues, whereas others, such as traditional amp-wired music acts, work best in large stadiums or park-like settings. This step also ensures knowing if additional equipment (such as generators or supplemental cabling) are required for set-up beforehand.
Marketing Best Practices
Sure, it’s important to get your attendees excited about your event, but the event should be part of a holistic approach to engagement, experience, and building a strong brand identity, too. Besides, it isn’t just about good optics, it’s about good business after the fact.
- Do: Hire an entertainer or group that is happy to be associated with your brand
In addition to their performance at the event itself, having your entertainer mention your company on social media helps build hype prior to the event – and ride positive influence afterward. If they already have a strong presence and following on social media, their sphere of influence can even help boost your own marketing efforts in business circles.
- Don’t: Try to cut corners with less-than-professional entertainment
While it can be tempting to hire the boss’ cousin’s friend to entertain your visiting crowd of stockholders, remember this is a chance to make an important impression on people you might not normally associate with so casually. Hire the band with a proven track record: corporate events are not the time or place to experiment with aspiring entertainers more likely to go off-key than on pitch. This advice extends to other service providers at your event as well!
Brand Identity Best Practices
You should have a clear, consistent picture of your brand and/or company identity in mind as you’re arranging your event: your entertainers should reflect the needs and tastes of your stakeholders, investors and employees alike. If need be, narrow your choices down to a handful of options, and send an anonymous quiz to make the rounds of the office or stakeholders for an answer.
- Do: Carefully research and interview your potential picks for strong social/political leanings
While it would be wonderful to take sociopolitical issues out of business dealings, the truth is that they are often inextricably linked. Advertising a heavily liberal group as a headliner for a heavily conservative corporation, or vice-versa results in an awkward clash of philosophies and an evening everyone will remember for all the wrong reasons. Be sure to, at a minimum, follow an entertainer’s social media accounts to get a feel for the kind of ideas, images, and causes they espouse to make sure they align with your brand’s ideals.
- Do: Make sure that your attendees have heard of the artist or genre you’re hiring
Well-meaning event planners or company employees may be excited to bring a favorite artist or performer on board for your event, but will the majority of your audience be as enthused? Bear in mind the typical age of your average attendee, as well as their preferences and tastes. While some audiences would love a popular country music star or risqué stand-up comedienne, others would rather duck out early rather than sit through a set. Likewise, be sure to give your entertainment a brief run-through on what your company does, as well as prominent philosophies or guiding principles: it will help them connect with your audience a bit better.
Scheduling and Booking Best Practices
Don’t run the risk of a disappointed venue: make sure you’re using these tips to keep your entertainment on schedule, on-task, and on the stage when they’re supposed to be. Your performer will thank you for being thorough, and your audience will thank you for being thoughtful.
- Don’t: Assume that your entertainment will be available without a contract
If the date of your event is still up in the air or otherwise undetermined, don’t expect performers to have wide swaths of booking time open for you. The best way to avoid disappointment when it comes to scheduling acts for your corporate event is to book early, pay a deposit, and confirm the dates as quickly as you’re able to. Paper trails are your friend, as are online calendars that can sync reminders for confirmation or booking balance due-dates with text messages and email.
- Don’t: Forget to schedule an intermission and/or networking period
When individuals attend concerts or shows, they’re purposely attending to see their favorite artists – thus, they’re more likely to sit still for long periods of time without complaint. Even then, most major shows have intermissions for attendees to buy merchandise, use the bathroom, and get refreshments. If your keynote speaker or performer is scheduled for a solid hour and a half, that puts undue stress on both performer and the crowd. Give everyone a chance to stretch their legs, refresh their drinks, and hopefully make a new corporate contact or two.
Day-of-Event Best Practices
So you know who you want to book and where you want them to perform, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will stay on track – be prepared! Anything can happen with an important event looming, and if you’re in charge of making it successful, you’ll need tips like these to get the job done:
- Do: Assume the weather will be uncooperative
If any part of your event is being held outdoors, plan for rain and hope for sun. Even the best entertainers aren’t typically equipped to play in the pouring rain, so make sure you have an indoor stage or performance space standing by in case of inclement weather – your guests will appreciate the forethought.
- Don’t: Put all your proverbial eggs in one basket
The news is full of ultra-popular singers canceling tour dates and concerts for everything from mental health to family concerns. To a lesser degree, it makes a great deal of sense to brace for that potential issue rather than being caught flat-footed. Always keep a backup entertainer in mind, preferably one that needs very little warning time to show up and save the event if the main act cancels or becomes otherwise unavailable. While no entertainer is particularly thrilled with being “second best” and being kept in a holding pattern if they aren’t busy, it gives you an enviable insurance policy against your performers dropping out.
Mileage Best Practices
Why should the fun stop just because the event is over? If your budget dollars are already used for hiring and paying your performer, you might as well get more out of them by filming or recording them to use in potential campaigns later. Here’s what you need to know before you break out the camera and start capturing footage (or instructing a videographer to) at your event:
- Do: Film, record, and capture photographs of your event from every angle
Whether you place the images you capture in an employee newsletter or spread them in newspaper articles across your local community, you’re getting more mileage out of your entertainment booking. As people see and remember the great times they had at your event, your brand becomes that much more associated with happiness and satisfaction, both from employees and beyond the company walls.
- Don’t: Fail to notify attendees that they may be filmed or photographed, even employees
If you are filming your entertainment presenters as they perform, make sure you’ve obtained releases from both your entertainer and en masse from the audience, via well-posted signage at the entrance(s). This will give you the freedom to use those images in future marketing campaigns or goodwill outreach efforts. Be sure to check your local and state regulations regarding camera footage to make sure that recording, broadcasting, and/or streaming your event is allowed.
Whether you’re holding an informal business luncheon at a local hotel or a formal dinner with vendors and distributors at a convention center, entertainment is key to keeping your attendees engaged, having fun, and interested enough to explore. Find the right entertainer the first time, and know what to expect when you do, including your bottom line – as well as future success with your largest clients.
While proper planning and caution can prevent a great deal of issues, booking corporate entertainment also requires the wherewithal and knowledge if a “show must go on” scenario happens to pop up in the middle of your event. Always plan for the worst and hope for the best, and you’ll never be unprepared.
Don’t get stuck with sub-par entertainment, but book your entertainment as far out as possible to avoid scheduling conflicts. By the time the event rolls around, you’ll have a lot less stress on your shoulders, and your attendees will have a wonderful show to look forward to. Selecting the right entertainer can feel a little like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack, but with these tips in hand, your search will hopefully go much more smoothly.