From budget to theme, catering to carriages, in a series of blogs for PA Life, events expert Liz Taylor covers the key advice that will enable PAs to make the best decisions when planning events. The latest topic to receive the’ Taylor treatment’ is entertainment. In this blog, Liz shares her five tips to choosing the right entertainment for your event, gained from three decades in the event industry and as an exclusive music manager.
“Memorable entertainment doesn’t just happen at an event,” begins Liz. “It is a carefully orchestrated element that needs real thought and meticulous attention.
“For me it’s always the most important part of any event too. Setting the mood. Raising the tempo. A focal point. Immersive, entertaining, engaging. Good or bad, you can be sure it’s the thing everyone will talk about for years to come, so even if budgets are tight, ALWAYS invest in the best entertainment you can afford.
“It’s therefore crucial to choose the right entertainment for your occasion and make the most of your budget. Luckily, I have some tips on the do’s, don’t’ s and big decisions to help PAs to get it right.”
Never book entertainment for your event you’ve not seen
My ironclad rule. A law of event planning, never to be broken. I never book an act that I haven’t seen live. In person. Social media, YouTube, showreels, nothing compares to how a performance translates in real life. The way an act conducts an audience. How they interact, captivate, stimulate. As an event planner you need to feel and experience this first hand. It also limits room for error or a band not living up to their online presence. In a live performance you will see through camera trickery or clever edits.
Think about how you feel when you leave the performance. Is this how you want your guests to feel at your event?
Do your research. Ask for references. Speak to people who have used them before. Don’t be afraid to meet with them and ask questions too. The best acts are those who ask questions right back. They want to know all about your event and the kind of tone you wish to set.
Choose an act that speaks to your audience
Analysis is more important in event planning than many people give credit for. When it comes to choosing the right entertainment for your event, considering the dynamics of your audience is paramount. Only if you know your audience can you tailor your entertainment choice to appeal to the age group and musical taste.
Think also about how you want your audience to respond to your entertainment. How do you want them to feel? How long do you want them to feel that way. When do you want them to feel it? Entertainment has the power to direct your party. Use it to your advantage.
Make it interactive
One of the best acts I’ve seen is a drumming band. It begins with one or two of the artists subtly tapping a beat from a position within the audience and slowly grows. Nobody in the room knows what is happening aside from the artists, but as time goes on more and more people begin to join in. Before you know it, the entire room is part of the performance. Tapping and drumming along with an amazing band. What works about this set up is that the audience is entirely engaged. Each person feels part of something exhilarating, exciting, and new, but without that paralysing fear of being asked to come onstage.
An interactive act that puts your audience at ease is incomparable.
Hire a multi-talented entertainmebt for your event
Budgets are squeezed at the minute so why not book one party band that does the whole shebang. I work with some immensely talented artists that can hold the whole event together. Compere, music, host – think about what need to deliver within your event and whether it’s possible for one act/band to complete it all. It gives the audience continuity and a feeling of safety knowing they’re in the safe hands of one group of people.
Talent is the key here. Perhaps consider spending less in other areas of your plans (switch a three-course dinner for less expensive, on-trend street food for example) to upgrade the entertainment. Event magician to Dynamo. Local host to Anton du Beke. This will increase attendance and create the elusive WOW factor for your event.
It doesn’t have to be about music
An illusionist, a slight of hand magician, caricaturists, or guest speakers. Entertainment at an event isn’t always about music. I’ve attended events where a piece of graffiti art takes place on stage throughout the course of the evening. The same with ice sculptures. At one jubilee party I organised, artists painted pictures of the scene as happened and were then auctioned off at the end of the event. Think about what your event needs to do, what is its purpose. Remember you can use a variety of entertainment types to meet your needs. Think about how you can best achieve your goals, with or without the music.
Liz Taylor is founder and CEO of corporate and private event planners, the Taylor Lynn Corporation, and has been at the forefront of the UK event scene for over thirty years. She is also MD at Liz Taylor Consultancy (https://www.liz-taylor-consulting.co.uk/), her own luxury hospitality consultancy helping aspiring brands to break into the luxury market. www.tlc-ltd.co.uk │ Twitter: @taylorlynncorp │ Instagram: @taylorlynncorp