There is one phrase I hear every year that makes me cringe.
“We hired entertainment last year, and it was a total bust.”
This is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Not only because someone didn’t get what they paid for, but now that one bad experience has probably turned them off from hiring someone to entertain their guests again.
But, I completely understand the frustration.
All that hard-earned cash basically gets thrown down the drain. Why risk the investment again?
What if I told you that all you had to do was a few simple things and you could put on a night of entertainment that would not only knock your guest’s socks off but make you look like an absolute hero? All you need to follow some simple tips, and you’ll have an event you’ll never forget!
Tip 1: Know What Works For Your Audience
Basically, get the right entertainment for not only the event but also for the audience. It astonishes me how often this is overlooked. Having a night out for an adult crowd? Don’t hire a kid’s entertainer. Organizing a social event for your church group? A raunchy comedian probably won’t be a good fit. Putting on a gala for the deaf? A cover band probably isn’t a good idea.
I know this may seem silly, but the truth is, I hear this a lot: “Last year we got <insert type of show here> and it just didn’t go over well.” Make sure you’re searching for options that fit with the vibe of your event.
But, that’s only half of the equation.
Your performer should also be able to adapt to an audience. I’ve always found the hallmark of a truly great entertainer is being able to read a room. I know I’ve put a lot of work into this…not only do I make sure I know exactly what my clients need when they book my shows, but I also strive to be able to adapt my shows on the fly to make sure that the crowd is comfortable with my performance. This is a skill that can take years to hone, which is why it’s you only get when you…
Tip 2: Hire Experienced Performers
Everyone has an uncle that can do a card trick or two. Or, everyone has a cousin that can rock out at Karaoke night. But that doesn’t always translate to being able to put on a show.
The best analogy I’ve ever heard about this is from Teller (yes, the “Penn & Teller” Teller):
When a pilot gets hired by an airline, the first question they ask is how much flight time they’ve logged. Why?
Because if a pilot has logged a ba-jillion hours in the cockpit, he’s most likely handled every possible complication that could arise. Low fuel? Yep. Failing engine? Probably. Unruly passengers? Most likely. Flying through bad weather? Absolutely.
Professional entertainers are the same, in a way. When they log hours and hours of performances, they can handle anything thrown at them. Have an issue with your sound system? They can fix it. Not sure how to set up the room? They can help. Have a heckler that doesn’t know when to quit? They’ve got you.
After the thousands of shows I’ve done, it’s rare I come across some new tribulation I haven’t tackled before, and I’ve gained all that experience through years of practice. So, when you hire me, you do not only get the show, but you get all that experience with it. Which is incredibly valuable, so…
Tip 3: Make Sure You Budget Correctly
To put it simply; you get what you pay for. And it makes sense…High-quality performers are in high demand, and there are only so many dates on a calendar. Their hours of “flight time” have made them experts in their field, and that means they are uniquely qualified to help you put on an event that no one will forget. And that expertise is worth every penny. But how do you know if they’re worth it? Well…
Tip 4: Get To Know Your Entertainer
For the vast majority of our lives, purchasing things is simple. You walk into a store, grab a thing, and buy it. If it works for you, you buy it again. If it doesn’t, you don’t. But, hiring entertainment for your event is a little different.
Vetting your potential performer will give you a good idea about whether or not they’re worth their salt. Look for social proof like reviews or videos, but also look into them; if they’ve got a good (or bad) reputation, it doesn’t take much to find it. In fact, most high-end entertainers will have something to make that job as easy as possible; for example, I have all that information in a quick and easy-to-find place for everyone to find or see. It could be a website or a brochure…but the point is that a quality entertainer will have that information at the ready.
And, if your entertainer is really good, they’ll get to know you and your needs too. I always try and talk with my clients to get a feel for what they need, and how I can make the most of their event for them. And, for a lot of events, this is where things usually fall apart, because some people don’t…
Tip 5: Listen To The Entertainer’s Advice
Chances are when your entertainer tells you to do/don’t do something, there’s probably a good reason for it (see Tip 2). While there are a lot of people who are more than adept at planning an event than the Average Joe, many of them only ever have to deal with a one or two of them a year (or, at all). An experienced entertainer, on the other hand, attends tens, hundreds, or event thousands of events just like yours in a year.
Thanks to all that flight time, your entertainer is a treasure trove of experience and ideas, so take advantage of it. Does your entertainer think it’s a bad idea to perform during dinner service? It’s probably because they know no one will be paying attention. Want a two-hour stage show at a cocktail mixer? Your entertainer knows that with nowhere to sit, your guests will be incredibly uncomfortable long before the word “intermission" pops into anybody’s mind. Want to split up a 30-minute show into three 10-minute pieces? Your entertainer knows the only people who'll see the show are the four people who didn’t leave to pee.
The bottom line is, that an experienced entertainer will have seen it all before, and they know exactly what needs to be done to make sure you walk away looking like a genius. But, when the night is over, be sure to…
Tip 6: Keep In Touch
Here’s the thing I think most people don’t realize:
Just because the night is over doesn’t mean that your entertainer can’t keep helping you.
The obvious example here is that you could hire them again to do the same schtick the following year. But many entertainers (myself included) have shows specifically designed for repeat clients. We want to be able to bring you new and exciting things every year, so we work hard to keep things new and fresh.
But that’s not the only way we can help.
Want to put on a dance party? We probably know a good DJ. Looking for something that can work in an unusual venue? We’ve got a guy. Need to find an event planner to take all the stress off your plate? We probably have several recommendations.
Because we work in the industry, we know the industry. And, at the end of the day, we want you to succeed.
So, there you have it. Six tips to get the most out of your entertainment. Now go knock some socks off!