22 Tips for Booking Great Corporate Entertainment: Use these Keys to Find the Best Entertainers!

corporate event planner standing in conference room entertainment

Great corporate event entertainers can make or break your next event. Here are 22 ways to be sure you work with the best of the best. Hire the best entertainment and you will delight your attendees. Get ready to hear lots of thank yous from your boss and leadership team too. It’s show time.

After reading these tips, you will never need to take chances on entertainment again. Read on to discover the 22 Key “E’s for securing an outstanding entertainer.  Here’s how to work with the very top corporate entertainers.

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Your event entertainers must personify these 22 “E’s”:

  1. EASY to reach and easy to work with.

    You have enough to worry about at your event. Avoid entertainers who are super-demanding and more concerned about the snacks in the green room, then they are about your program goals. Three secrets for making things easy: First, is this corporate entertainer easy to reach by phone, text, email? Second, is his/her performance agreement straightforward? Finally, can you have a pre-event phone call with the performer to make sure you are on the same page?
  2. EXCELLENT value for the cost.

    That old saying, “You get what you pay for” is especially true when it comes to booking speakers, event MCs, and entertainers. Avoid looking for bargains. After all, this presenter is going to be the face of your program. Do look for excellent value. Will this corporate entertainer A) Fit your budget? B) Delight your attendees? C) Contribute to the mission of your meeting?
  3. ENTER strong on stage.

    You don’t have the luxury of working with an entertainer who s-l-o-w-l-y connects with your crowd. Hire a corporate entertainer who will grab your group and win them over immediately. Your guest performer has less than one minute to make a great impression and get the show rolling. Here’s one way you can help: Make sure someone on your team gives your entertainer an effective introduction. Discuss this piece in advance of your meeting.
  4. ENTERTAINING for your audience.

    You’d be surprised how many meeting planners forget this part. If your guest speaker, comedian, juggler, mc or musician is not a good fit for your group, do NOT hire them. How can you know? If possible, see them work in person. Watch video clips. Check out their list of past clients. Get recent references. Don’t just think about the cost of hiring a corporate entertainer, think about the impact they will bring. Make sure they are a good fit for your audience. You are looking for the type of entertainment that will bring appropriate laughter, energy, fun, and excitement to your event.

    Today’s attendees are more than passive listeners. They want to SEE a show. You can heighten the experience of your people by giving them an exciting-to-see performance. So, forget the podium. Put your corporate entertainment in the spotlight. Go with visually-appealing entertainment. Your guest performers should appeal to the eye, like the entertainers we all love to watch on America’s Got Talent. Look for movement, audience-involvement, amazing entertainment, dazzling talent, group participation, and lots of fun!

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  1. ENTHUSIASTIC about your group.

    If you hire a corporate entertainer who doesn’t believe in your company’s values, you are making a big mistake. The last thing you want is an off-the-cuff negative comment about your product or service. Your group can feel whether the entertainer or speaker you hire actually cares about your people—and what your group stands for. Remember this: Even if you have not asked your corporate entertainer to deliver a message, they are sending a message to your attendees. Make sure your entertainer conveys a positive tone/message for your team.
  2. ENGAGE your attendees.

    This is one of the best tips in this article. Great corporate entertainment engages your people. Hire the types of corporate entertainment that will get your audience laughing, clapping, standing, singing, cheering!  Involve them. Your attendees do not want to be mere spectators, they want to be participants. Look for corporate entertainers—like comedy speakers, games show hosts, improv players, dance bands—that will actively involve your people. More engagement = more fun.
  3. EXACT on your timing.

    You might hire a fantastic band to perform at your annual gathering. Maybe your group begins cheering for an encore. But if the entertainment runs past the allotted time, it can hurt your event. Be very clear in your pre-event calls and contract about when you want the show to start and stop. Sometimes, the exact start time is just the best estimate. But you can stipulate that you want a 45-minute show. Professional comedians, DJs, emcees, and singers know that timing matters. Bonus tip: Usually less is more. Make sure you leave your audience feeling refreshed, not exhausted.

    The best corporate entertainers are the ones you know you can count on. Deal with established entertainers who do what they say they will do, when they say they will do it. Example: What is their cancellation policy? Be very clear about the “call time” (performer arrival time) you have set for the day of your program. Avoid corporate entertainers who may spring surprises on you after the initial contract is signed. Suggestion: Make sure you know what the travel fees will be. Offer a “buy out” on all air and ground transportation for the entertainer and his/her road team if applicable. Entertainment is vital at your meeting. But remember this: Character counts. The way your corporate entertainer treats you and your attendees is just as important as what they do on stage.
  5. ENJOYABLE for everyone in attendance.

    You may personally enjoy a certain style of ancient folk music or a particular electronica group. But ask yourself: Will this entertainment appeal to everyone in my audience? Avoid controversial presenters. The purpose of hiring Clean Comedians, Variety Artists, or Keynote Entertainers, is to bring everyone together. Look for entertainment that is both tasteful and appealing to everybody who will be in attendance at your event.  Bonus: For most audiences, it’s laughter they are after!

    Hire performers who can entertain without embarrassing you or your organization.

    Even if you are on a tight budget, do the extra leg work and find an extraordinary entertainer. Here’s what to look for: Will this corporate entertainer A) Make my people laugh/feel good? B) Impress my attendees? C) Leave everyone wanting more? Note: This does not necessarily mean that you need a famous entertainer. What you are looking for is results. Measure this in terms of the impact the entertainer or speaker makes on your audience. Hire a corporate entertainer who will WOW your people.
  7. EXPERIENCED with your type of meeting.

    There’s an old saying: Success leaves clues. You never want your group to be the “guinea pig” for a new entertainer who is just starting out. There is far too much at risk (including your personal reputation). Here’s an important point: Even if a corporate entertainer has experience with one type of group, i.e. sales, it doesn’t mean he is experienced performing for teachers or union contractors. When you watch the entertainer’s demo video, look for this: Are they performing for the type of people, and in the kind of venue, you are representing?

    You are not hiring a psychologist; you are scheduling corporate entertainment. So why is empathy important here? Because great entertainers emote. You want them connected to the excitement about your award winners. You want them tuned in to the deeper cause behind your Annual Gala. This is another way of saying hire corporate entertainers who will genuinely care about your people and the bigger purpose of your program.
  9. ENERGIZE your audience.

    When you hire a rock-solid professional entertainer, comedian, or variety artist for your special event, your audience should FEEL the energy on stage. Work with an entertainer who “brings it.” This doesn’t always mean you need a loud performer. Sometimes the best entertainers are masterful story-tellers or comedians who customize their humor around your audience and theme. The most important thing is that your people feel connected and captivated by your corporate entertainment. Look for comedians, jugglers, specialty performers who will MOVE your audience and increase the energy in your meeting room.
  10. EXPERT at what they do.

    This goes beyond experience. If you are hiring a comedian, select one who is an expert at personalizing the humor around your key people. If you are scheduling a dueling piano show, hire the best in the business. The best corporate entertainment happens when you work with the best in their niche. Warning: Be careful about hiring an entertainer based on one or two TV appearances. You are not booking a TV show; you are booking an entertainer to delight your unique group. So, hire a seasoned pro who specializes in entertainment that your attendees will love and appreciate.
  11. EXPLAIN their set-up needs in advance.

    Great corporate entertainment should delight and surprise your attendees. But as the meeting planner, you do not want any surprises. Hire a corporate entertainer who is upfront and crystal clear about his set-up requirements. This includes staging, sound, and lighting needs. All of this critical information should be spelled out in a simple “rider.” Make sure this rider is attached to the actual agreement. You want to know precisely what is required—ahead of time. Suggestion: Here’s a helpful industry saying in the entertainment business. Look for entertainers who “Pack flat but play BIG.”
  12. ENHANCE your theme.

    Remember the performance you bring into your program, is really a show-within-a-show. The entertainment needs to be integrated into your larger program. So, if have an “Aloha” theme for your holiday party, it may make sense to hire the Island Hula Dancers, not the Mexican Mariachi group. If you schedule a Clean Comedians performer, invite him or her to incorporate elements of your theme into the fun on stage. Look for ways to use entertainment to reinforce the main purpose of your meeting. For example, “You Can Do It!” might be a great theme for your meeting and would fit well with a comedy-speaker/entertainer at your event.
  13. EMPOWER your people.

    Most corporate entertainers are not inspirational speakers (though some are!). Keep in mind that your entertainment can either add or detract from the vibe of your event. Look for performers, comedians, specialty acts, musicians who bring positivity to your program. You want them to set a tone of celebration at your event. Hire entertainers who LIFT the laughter, energy, and spirit of your audience.
  14. ENDORSE your organization.

    Make sure the entertainers and speakers you hire want to be with your group. The main thing to avoid is a corporate performer ranting about a political or business agenda that is not in line with your organization. You don’t need the entertainer to pontificate. But you DO want them to give your group a shout-out. It can be as simple as, “I’d like to thank the good people at INSERT YOUR ORG NAME for inviting me to be a part of this special evening!” Your attendees and your leadership team will appreciate feeling appreciated from the platform.
  15. EXCEED expectations.

    Look to hire an event entertainer who will go above and beyond for you. They are out there.

    Do not hire an entertainer who has the reputations of arriving late and leaving early.

    The ideal combination is booking a performer who not only has a great act, but a great attitude too. This is where a “pre-decision” phone call with the entertainer can really help you. Asking for references is only part of the process. Make sure you follow up with those references via phone or email. Hear first-hand about this entertainer. Will he/she go out of their way to help you hit a home run at your meeting?

  16. ELICIT applause!

    You want your corporate entertainment to do more than fill time. Your guests want to have the time of their lives. Schedule an entertainer, comedian, ventriloquist, musical act, emcee, or other performers who are guaranteed to give your guests a great time. Look carefully at the corporate entertainer’s demo video. Do you see people clapping, laughing, and enjoying themselves? What will the corporate performer do to ensure that everybody feels entertained at your meeting?
  17. END the program on a high note.

    The way your keynote entertainer concludes her performance is vital. It’s true. First impressions matter. But so do final impressions. This may be the big finish of your evening program. So, the final part of the entertainer’s act, show, or performance is critical. You want your people walking away feeling amazed—and impressed that you hired the right entertainer. Think about this ahead of time. Will this presentation leave my audience on a super high note? That’s what you want. Talk about the ending, right at the beginning of your discussion with the entertainer.

Great entertainment is essential for your event success. By following the 22 Tips in this article, you will ensure that the corporate performers and entertainers you hire are a big plus for your program. Now have some fun and enjoy the show!

Keep Reading: 10 Ways You Can Make Virtual Meetings More Interactive

Adam Christing has been hired more than 4,000 times as a keynote comedian, after-dinner speaker and master of ceremonies. He is the founder of Clean Comedians.