17 Tips for Bringing Your Event to Life by Susan Friedmann
17 Tips for Bringing Your Event to Life
by Susan Friedmann
Your job as an event planner doesn't stop with the meeting in the company
boardroom. You may be called upon to organize an employee appreciate event, an
awards dinner, a product launch, the celebration of a company milestone, a gala
recognizing a longtime employee's retirement, an incentive event for company's
sales force, a fundraising event, a holiday celebration…the list goes on and
One key to a successful special event is to seek out entertainment or
decorations that are unique and fun to spark conversation among guests. As you
begin envisioning your event, picture the mood you want the environment to
create. For example, determine whether you want to create a jubilant,
celebratory atmosphere or one that is more serious. The ambiance you aim for
depends a great deal upon the type of event you're having. If it's a product
launch where you want to create an aura of enthusiasm and excitement, you'll
likely lean toward an exhilarating atmosphere. If you're organizing an event for
your employees and their spouses, perhaps you want the mood to be somewhat
Whatever you decide, the following seventeen tips will help you shape and
enhance the atmosphere with the entertainment, decorations, and food you choose.
1. Think outside the box when planning the atmosphere at your event. Novelty is
the key to your success. Give your guests something to tell their friends about!
2. Create a fun, interesting, and exciting ambiance using special stage
settings, lighting, special scenery, music, ice carvings, flowers, centerpieces,
candles, balloons, colored linens, printed menus, a photographer and gift items.
Budget determines much of your wish list turns into reality.
3. Consider all sorts of amusements – strolling musicians, chefs'
demonstrations, palm readers…anything out of the ordinary.
4. Keep in mind that your entertainment doesn't have to come in the form of
people. An elaborate coffee bar or startlingly beautiful champagne fountain will
have your guests raving.
5. Vary your decorations depending on the type of event you're throwing and the
venue you choose. Find out whether the facility has house decorations that it's
willing to provide at no additional charge.
6. Check all decorating plans with the venue in advance since many have
restrictions on what they allow you to do in their establishment.
7. Create a theme especially for a large event to help make it more memorable.
In addition, it helps make it easier to organize programming, food, décor, and
other accessories. Carry out your theme before, during and after the event for
true ambiance and memorability.
8. Cut down on decorating costs by choosing a themed venue and then building
your event around the décor rather than molding a venue to the theme you've
chosen. For example, find an elaborately decorated ethnic restaurant, and then
provide the musicians and entertainers from the appropriate area of the world.
9. Select a theme that fits your group and complements the tone and content of
your event. But don't have a theme unless you're prepared to follow through with
10. Ask for theme ideas. If you're at a loss, consider having a competition
soliciting ideas from your target audience. Your best ideas often come from
others. But, remember to offer a fun incentive.
11. Consider choosing a theme from the most popular categories, namely: Fashion
(e.g. The Roaring Twenties), History (e.g. A Renaissance Fair), Politics (e.g. 4
th of July Celebrations), Popular culture (e.g. An Evening with Dr. Seuss) or
The arts (e.g. A Night at the Oscars). Avoid the brainwork and check out
http://www.party411.com/themes.html for the easy way out.
12. Choose appropriate entertainment for your group. Participants look forward
to the entertainment segment of a program. They want to have fun, enjoy
themselves, and let their hair down, particularly after stressful and demanding
sessions. Options include: Music (e.g. live, disc jockey or even karaoke),
Spectacle (e.g. magician, juggler, comedian or mine), Theater (e.g. dinner
theatre, murder-mystery experience or corporate theater), Games (e.g. treasure
hunt, or a game show), Video or slide show.
13. Make certain to view a demo video before hiring talent. Watch for the
entertainers' performance quality and the audience reaction. Check out their
references and ask specific questions such as: Would they hire them again? How
flexible, reliable and easy to work with are they? Make sure that their act is a
good fit for your audience.
14. Find out whether the entertainers need extra staging, lighting, or décor to
create the right ambiance. Special requirements add to your bottom line –
watch out, this could get expensive. Be sure that the venue approves any special
requests. For musical entertainment discuss various options, such as low-volume
background music, light entertainment during the meal, and lively dance music.
Discuss how the entertainers involve the audience in their act. People enjoy
both passive and active involvement.
15. Sit-down affairs work best when you include some form of entertainment.
However, if you want something a bit different, look at alternative areas in the
hotel, such as an indoor patio or pool area. Naturally, a plan revolving around
an outdoor pool is contingent on the weather. It's best to have a back-up plan
just in case the heavens decide to open. Buffets and barbecues also work well,
but watch the price tag. These kinds of food functions often require extra
labor, which automatically means additional dollars.
16. Don't serve anything messy for any event where food is served while guests
are standing and mingling. Limit your cuisine to bite-size morsels that guests
can easily eat with their fingers or a fork. Save money by opting for a few
choice hors d'oeuvres in larger quantities rather than a large selection in
smaller quantities. But remember to include some interesting vegetarian
selections in your menu for guests who don't eat meat.
17. Make sure you have enough bartenders and liquor when serving alcohol at your
event. You don't want to run out of beverages in the middle of the party or have
long lines of grumbling, thirsty guests. Consider whether you want to limit your
guests to certain selections, eliminating expensive liquors and specialty
Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author:
“Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to
improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and
training. Go to http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com
to sign up for a free copy of ExhibitSmart Tips of the Week.