Corporate entertainers are an interesting lot. I know, because I'm one of them. But I also have worked with many others as well and I know that we all have specific requirements that must be met to ensure that our shows are the best they can be and that they do not fall flat.
As a meeting planner, what are some of the things YOU can do to guarantee a great working relationship with entertainers and to make sure there are no surprises when it comes to the entertainment portion of your event?
1) Provide the details. Experienced entertainers know that events and venues vary widely as to how suitable they are for that person's act. As a planner, the more information you can provide as to the room, sound, lighting, staging, audience make-up and any other logistical or technical considerations, the better your chance for success. The entertainer should ask many questions up front, but you may know of unusual elements concerning the specific event that he or she may not think to bring up.
Also, be sure to provide the entertainer with your venue's meeting contact or facilitator so that they can discuss the critical details.
2) Read the rider. Entertainers should have technical specifications in their contract, usually as a separate "technical rider." Many bands have famously included unusual or even ridiculous requests buried deep in their rider just to see if the client or agent did indeed read the whole thing.
My rider only contains things that are critical to making the show the best it can be. My shows are not nearly as demanding as some, because I do not use elaborate props and have no unusal staging or lighting. However, it is absolutely necessary for the audience to be able to SEE and HEAR me, so the sight lines and sound system must be addressed in the rider. Also, since my show is highly interactive, I often have audience members join me on stage, so there must be ample room between tables or seats for people to easily be able to access the stage, and steps up to the stage are needed as well.
3) Be reasonable. Meeting planning is a stressful occupation, especially the night of the event. It is easy to get caught up in putting out fires and letting social graces go out the window. Stay cool.
This goes both ways and I often tell entertainers that THEY need to be reasonable, polite, easy to work with, and as flexible as possible. If the entertainer can make the meeting planner's job easier, the possibility of working together in the future greatly increases.
4) Customization. Some entertainers can customize their show to make it relate more to a specific audience. It is not unusual for them to send a questionnaire to the client about the company, it's people and history, so they can make references during the show.
Knowing who with the client would be a good source of this information and having thier contact information available for the entertainer is a great step in helping the show be as engaging as possible.
I love to incorporate company-specific references in my mentalism shows, sometimes about executives, or products. I have even included the company's mission and vision statements and that goes over well with the top brass.
In summary, helping the entertainer as much as possible with information and courtesy is a great way to make sure they do an awesome job and provide you and your client with a memorable show.
Until next time, think positive thoughts!