Marcel Oudejans Magician PSASA Gala Dinner 2011Everybody enjoys a good party – don’t you agree?  The fun & laughter enjoyed at a company function is one the best ways to create and cement relationships with your colleagues, staff & customers. Company functions should be a highlight and something to look forward to, and given the important role a company event plays in strengthening relationships and friendships, in-house party planners are often under pressure to making sure that their event will be a success.  But frequently the staff-member responsible for planning the event does not have the experience or knowledge to plan and organise the many different aspects of the party – and it’s normally not his or her primary job function.

A corporate event is the accepted way to show appreciation to either staff or clients, to provide an opportunity for your guests to get to know each other personally, and to create an unforgettable memory that your guests will not only remember fondly but also feel compelled to tell their friends and family.  Company functions should be considered to be a marketing opportunity since the success of your event can directly relate to the success of your business:  perhaps this why event co-ordinators are normally very nervous or stressed out during the planning stages of the function!

The key to a successful event is to ensure that your guests share an experience that is so fun, so personal & so completely unforgettable that they talk about your party for a long, long time afterwards. That’s why it’s so important to focus your attention on providing a comfortable environment to get your guests relaxed, talking to each other & laughing as quickly as possible! Be careful: many event co-ordinators make the mistake of spending too much attention, time and money organising things that are not going to make a considerable difference in making the function memorable.

Stop for a moment and think about the last corporate event you attended that you really enjoyed. Can you recall the venue and, if you can, was the venue the most important or memorable thing about the party?  Was it the food?  The drinks? I going to guess and say the most memorable thing about the entire event was how much you enjoyed the company of your friends around the table and possibly how much you talked and laughed, right?

So it’s not how elaborate the venue is, how ‘inventive’ the cuisine is, or how much there is to drink that defines the success of your event.  Yes, these things are still very important to ‘spark’ the kind of spirited atmosphere your guests need to have a great time – but I’m sure you have attended parties, both private and corporate, that were very simple but that were still tremendous amounts of fun!  A successful event is one where your guests are quickly able to create lively conversation that is fun and gets them relaxed and comfortable.

But hold on … how do you ‘break the ice’ so that your guests are keen to share an experience that creates this required level of personal interaction?

In my experience, working with professional event entertainers can be instrumental in creating the kind of atmosphere that will directly contribute your event’s success! By working with a performer who is dedicated to keeping your guests laughing, talking & relaxed, you will have the opportunity to sit down and also take part in the festivities.  The benefits of working with an entertainer who is a corporate event specialist far outweigh the potential problems you may encounter & need to deal with if you choose the ‘cheapest’ entertainment, or take on all the responsibility of interacting with the guests yourself.

Unfortunately, this is where an inexperienced event-planner starts making ‘rookie’ mistakes – mistakes that can cost your company time, money and the lost opportunity of a successful event.  Selecting and hiring professional entertainment can be quite daunting, particularly if you do not have a plan or enough information available.

How do you know if the entertainment will be value-for-money?  What if it’s inappropriate or the entertainment doesn’t arrive?  Selecting and hiring the right entertainment to ensure your event is a success can actually be very simple and easy.

Here are a few tips & suggestions to help you choose the right entertainment for your event:

  • Have a plan for your event — even if it’s a rough plan. You must have a plan for your event – otherwise how will you know what you are trying to achieve?  Your plan can include the following information:
    • Date & time for your event
    • Venue
    • Theme
    • Rough budget (including allowing for at least 10% extra)
    • Timeline
    • Notes and special requests
  • Start looking for entertainment options when you start your event planning. There are several good reasons for this: you can check if your choice of entertainer is available, advance bookings are often discounted, or you can create a theme that matches the entertainment.  The success of an event depends heavily on the quality of entertainment, yet many planners make the mistake of leave this important aspect to the last minute!
  • Decide how important it is for your guests to interact with the entertainment. Do you want an entertainer that incorporates every guest into the performance, or do you want ‘background’ or ‘static’ entertainment?  Remember, since we can agree that interactivity is super important to create conversation, consider if you really need something that your audience will forget about after a few minutes.
  • Be prepared to have several alternatives available. If your requested entertainers are not available, ask them who they recommend:  genuinely professional performers should know other entertainers who would be suitable for your event, & be able to give you suggestions & their recommendations.
  • Credible & qualified entertainers will offer you testimonials & referral letters. Find these letters on your entertainer’s website and do a web search (e.g. Google their name) to find any additional positive or negative comments.  Taking a moment to read through your prospective entertainer’s list of previous clients gives you the best indication of the level of experience your entertainer has, and do not hesitate to call previous clients to ask them for a personal recommendation.  Or ask your friends & colleagues if they have recently seen an entertainer who they would recommend. Just doing this can save you a lot of time, money & trouble in the long run!
  • Consider whether the entertainment is going to be suitable & appropriate for your guests. Not everyone enjoys listening to kwaito, has the same tolerance for ‘risqué’ humour, or wants to see an inexperienced or unskilled performer struggle & ‘die’ on stage!  Establish your company’s accepted policies with your performer very early in your enquiry process: if you need to short-list your entertainment, why not select entertainers that are certain to help you be remembered for all the right reasons?  Nobody wants their guests to tell their friends how rude or boring your entertainer was, and this can be prevented if you chose the right performer.
  • How your prospective entertainer treats you will be a great indication how he or she will treat your guests. When meeting with your entertainer, or during a telephonic conversation, ask as many questions as you like – do not hesitate to make specific requests – since your performer is going to representing your company to your guests.  If you feel that the entertainer doesn’t care about you or your event, you’re probably right: keep looking around until you find someone you really feel comfortable with.

If you know what qualities you’re looking for then selecting & booking the right entertainment for your event or function can a lot of fun!  You’ll be interacting with interesting personalities who love to laugh, are passionate about their work, and who are eager to be in front of an audience.  So when you’ve confirmed the right person for your event, you will not only relax — knowing that you’ll be working with a professional — but you’ll be certain to have just as much fun as your guests. You also deserve the type of event that you will remember and talk about for a long, long time!  Just remember – aim to make your event fun, personal & unforgettable & you can be sure that your event will be talked about for a long, long time afterwards.