As an entertainer, I see events from a slightly different perspective from the rest of the audience. And with an interactive performer, that lens changes even more. Here are a few simple tips that I’ve found make for the best interactive entertainment experience.
At many events, your audience will be at tabled rounds. That means about 50% of your group is facing away from the performer. Add to that distractions from servers, glasses clanking and guests busy enjoying their meals, and you’ll have a performance that loses 20% of its steam before it has even begun. So schedule your performance immediately following dinner, after dessert has been plated and coffee has been poured. Then you can halt service until after the show is completed, and everybody will be able to enjoy the program to its fullest.
Does the CEO need to give a speech? Is somebody in the company a stand-up comic on the side and wants to roast the incoming board? These can all be great components of an event, but I always recommend that they come after the main entertainment if they will be longer than 15 minutes. Guests have an energy spike immediately following dinner, followed by a descent into “food coma.” By scheduling entertainment first, you’ll ensure that the energy level of your group stays lifted.
Like speeches, awards can often take way too long. And as much as we would wish otherwise, most employees and peers don’t care about the awards that they or their friends are not receiving. For award presentations longer than 20 minutes, it’s advisable to end the evening with them rather than putting the entertainment last. More importantly, this will prevent your guests from leaving early and missing the entertainment entirely!
My top rule. Under no circumstance should you separate your entertainment from your audience with a dance floor (unless your entertainment is a band). Put the dance floor at the back of the room, or bring chairs in to fill in the dance floor while your guests enjoy the entertainment. Otherwise, you make front row seats the equivalent of mid-row seats, and the people in the back may have issues seeing the show clearly.
Should we surprise our guests by hiding the entertainment from them? Under my advice, no. Think about going to a movie or a concert. If you have some knowledge of what you’re about to see, you’ll be able to enjoy the program more. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy performing close-up illusions and mind reading before taking the stage for the full group. It gives your guests the chance to create a buzz in the room, preparing them to appreciate the performance to its fullest.