As event and meeting professionals look for creative ways to make their online events stand out, entertainment to engage attendees seems to be top of mind. So BizBash tapped a few entertainment marketing experts to answer event pros’ burning questions surrounding securing entertainment for virtual or hybrid events.
How do I decide what kind of entertainment to book to ensure it will fit the tone of my event?
The first step in securing talent for your online gathering is to narrow down your search based on the overall goal and theme of your event, and choose the ones that will convert best from live to virtual. “Just like you would for an in-person event, program entertainment based on what the theme of the event is, the people attending it, and what would wow them,” suggests Natasha Miller, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Entire Productions. “For example, we program artists most appropriate and that translate well on a virtual stage. There are artists that can be featured performers such as a singer, band, or mentalist, and others that can be threaded throughout a program like a graphic recorder or sketch artist.”
Once I’ve decided on a virtual event performer, how can I successfully book them?
As all event and meeting planners know by now, organizing virtual events is a different ball game than an in-person format, so Christian Henderson, senior talent booker at G7 Entertainment Marketing in Nashville, Tenn., advises giving yourself more time to book talent. “Organizers are trying to book talent two the three weeks out as opposed to two to three months out. Time can help in order to find the right talent out there for what the event needs.”
Photo: Amy TolbertHow can my attendees engage with the talent?
Since the industry-wide shift to virtual back in March, G7 Entertainment Marketing has utilized chat rooms in moderated conversations with recognizable speakers and celebrities they’ve booked. Speaking from experience, Henderson notes that “virtual events work wonders with the chat function in their livestreams.”
Kat Bryant Flaherty, vice president of client services for San Francisco-based AMP Agency, adds that a chat feature “is a great way for the attendees to get a sense of community, and it’s fun to watch—like eavesdropping on all the conversations at a cocktail party!” Flaherty considers this digital conversation a win-win because “the chatter that happens also provides valuable feedback for us, the producers, as people are pretty vocal when they like something or when they don’t.”
Entire Productions has accomplished audience interaction by hiring DJs that take song requests virtually, mentalists who call on audience members to assist their digital illusions, and artists who have attendees pose for a screenshot to draw caricatures throughout the event. Miller aims “for guests to come out of the event exclaiming ‘I didn’t think a virtual event could be this fun and cool!’”
Making time for a Q&A session, incorporating interactive games such as Bingo and Name That Tune, or doing a giveaway during an event are also highly effective in getting that feeling of audience interaction through a screen, according to Flaherty. She says these sort of activities ”reward attendees and add excitement. Everyone likes free stuff!”