Recently, I had an unusual gig. Rather than my usual theatre show or after-dinner event entertainment, I was asked to perform my magic and mentalism schtick and MC an event hosted in a store, where all their suppliers came to showcase all of their hot new things for the year. I would do a bit of magic, introduce two or three presenters, do a little more magic, and lather, rinse, repeat until the end of the event. It's the kind of gig I do often enough to have it in my corporate magician skill set.
After the event was over, the client came up to me and told me how thrilled she was about the event. She was not only impressed by the magic that happened on stage for her guests, but was also very pleased about how the crowd was interested, engaged, stayed at the event much longer than expected, and (hopefully) became more informed customers that helped my client make a profit.
It was a great event all around, and when it was all over, I was thanked abundantly for helping make their event a smashing success.
And, while this particular gig is a bit different from the norm, the reaction of the client at the end of it was one that I’ve seen time and time again. And while they could have done what they did before with the same results as before, they decided to add an extra little spark and hire a professional. And what did that do for their event?
It made it fun.
Now this isn’t saying their event wasn’t fun before. But, they did step out of the box and do something exciting, different, and novel. Not only that, but they had someone on hand to troubleshoot audio issues, fill time, promote deals in-store, and keep their crowd’s attention. But, most importantly, adding a bit of novelty can go a loooong way to making your event the talk of the town.
I’ve touched on this myself in a few blog posts before (specifically here and here), but I feel like this topic of making your event fun by getting a professional entertainer deserves an entry all its own. Why? Because over my magic and mentalism career, I’ve performed at hundreds of corporate or private functions of varying sizes and styles for many different purposes. And while many of them blur together, some stand out in my memory for two reasons. They were awesome, or they were awful. And, as I’ve seen many times, it can make or break an evening, which can have bigger consequences than you realize.
So...Why Should I Make My Event Fun?
I feel like at least a few of you think this is obvious. Of course you want your guests to have a good time. But, there’s a lot more at stake here than just making sure everyone is happy. If your guests are having a blast at your event, the outcomes of the whole event can change drastically.
If it’s a fundraiser, having fun and putting on a great event can affect your bottom-line profits. If guests feel happier and like they’re having more fun, they’re likely more willing to spend a little more to support your cause.
If it’s a trade show or product launch, the customers attending are more likely to like you, your company, and your product, so they’re more willing to invest in it.
If it’s a recurring event, that means you’re likely to have the same people come back year after year, and even bring others, causing your event to grow. Which is great if you’re hosting a fundraiser, trade show, or other annual event.
If it’s a company outing like a barbecue or a Holiday party, that means your employees are more likely to socialize, interact with, and befriend each other, leading to a more satisfying and efficient workplace.
You get the idea. It’s also been a scientifically documented fact that if your customers, guests, or patrons are in a good mood, they’re likely to spend more, donate extra, stay longer, or perform better. Not to mention the whole idea of the reciprocity effect. You gave your guests something of value, so they’re more inclined to do the same in return.
OK, But I Can Be Fun On My Own. Why Should I Hire An Entertainer?
Again, there’s the obvious answer here: an entertainer entertains. They come in, wow the pants off your guests at your event, and everyone has a jolly-good time.
But that’s not all.
An experienced professional does more than just put on a show. Since their entire business is based on their audiences and clients having the best time possible, they’re also experts on how to make that happen. And, it’s not just about the show.
Not too long ago, I did another show for an organization at a hotel conference centre. The idea was to put on a show for about two hundred and seventy-five guests after dinner, and add a little excitement to the evening. When I arrived to set up, anyone with technical experience was nowhere to be found, and none of the attendees setting up the event knew anything about the malfunctioning sound system.
Cue the pro.
In a matter of minutes, I had the microphones up and running, and everyone had a great time. Not that I’m an experienced sound engineer, mind you, but I’ve dealt with enough sound systems in enough places to troubleshoot most problems.
At another recent event, a stream of presentations were cued up prior to dinner. One of the presenters ran (very) short, leaving about a fifteen minute gap to fill before the evening could carry on. Rather than sit in silence, I came up, had a conversation on stage with the presenter, and covered the gap so no one would notice.
The point is, when you hire someone with experience, they’ve seen it all, and know how to handle it. So, not only do you get a great show, but you get someone who knows how to stop problems in their tracks so that everyone gets to experience an awesome event. Just like a pilot logging flight time, a professional magician, performer, or entertainer has the tools and experience to make sure whatever event they’re at goes off without a hitch.
Sure, These Are Good Points, But I’m Not Sure It’s Worth The Expense.
When a lot of people plan for an event, the entertainment is usually the last priority on their list. But, there’s a few good reasons why it shouldn’t be.
To illustrate this a little better, let’s imagine a slightly different situation: The caterer.
You’re hosting an event, and you have two options: Your cousin Sal, who costs next to nothing, and cooked you a burger one time that was pretty dang good. Or, a catering company that is much more expensive than Sal’s one-man-meat-mission. Which one do you go with?
Unless your cousin Sal is the caterer, my guess is that you went with the catering company. And I bet it’s because you wanted someone who has the experience to handle the large crowds, hectic schedules, and the hustle and bustle of the event. And, as much as you love your cousin, you know he’s going to leave your guests wanting.
Hiring an entertainer is no different. Sure, there’s a lot of different options out there, but just like a good caterer, this is one of those things where you get what you pay for. Not only do the pros have years of experience they can draw on to make your event top notch (see above), but they have road-tested their shows over hours and hours and in front of thousands of people so you know it works.
It all goes back to the first point in this article; the better your guests feel, the better the event goes. Plain and simple. And someone with the experience to make sure your guests are entertained is worth every penny.
Not to mention the unexpected side-effect: you look like a genius. When you bring in someone to put on a show, it’s not the entertainer who gets the credit for making the evening magical. It’s you, the event planner. As an entertainer-for-hire, my job isn’t to just be entertaining. My job is to make you look good by bringing all that fun, experience, and know-how to the table.
But That’s One More Thing To Worry About. What If It’s A Huge Hassle?
This is a major concern I encounter a lot from people asking about getting entertainment for their event. As much as they like the idea of hiring an entertainer, they’re terrified that whoever they bring in is going to be a huge Capital-D-Diva and will need to be waited on hand and foot.
But the truth is, it’s the opposite. Like I mentioned above, my job is to make you look good. So to do that, I make sure that you don’t have to worry about a thing. The show needs to get set up? Got it. The sound is a little wonky? I’ll take care of it. There’s a few tables that can’t see the stage? Let’s put them where they can. You don’t know what you need for AV equipment? I’ve got recommendations. You need someone to introduce guests, be an MC and keep the evening moving along? Done and done. We’re the experts that want to help you succeed. And we want to make sure it’s as stress-free as possible. Once we have what we need, we chug along doing our own thing until it’s time to step on stage, put on a show, and make you look awesome for having the idea to bring in the magician in the first place.
Well, This Sounds Great! Let’s Do This Thing!
Good. I’m glad we worked that out! Now let’s get in touch for that big To-Do that you do!
But, whoa there, Bucky, there’s one thing. You gotta plan ahead.
If you’re all gung-ho about having a mentalist or magician come and blow some minds at your event, there’s nothing that bursts your bubble worse than reaching out, contacting them, and finding the date has already been booked (which happens more often than you’d realize).
The best way around this is to be ahead of the game. Entertainers (especially corporate entertainers) are usually booking months in advance, and while you might be lucky and find a gap for that event that’s just a few days away, it poses another problem; prep time.
With scheduling ahead, it gives both you and your chosen entertainer to work out all the details for the event. This is the time where a sound system can get set up, any special requests or inclusions in the show can be arranged, or any weird or wacky details can be worked out in a timely, un-panicked fashion.
For me and my schedule, I usually recommend booking a date at least three to four months in advance, but that can vary between entertainers, times of year, and the type of event.
But at the end of the day, bringing in a professional mentalist, magician, comedian, entertainer, or MC is one of the easiest ways to make your event memorable for all the right reasons.