Planning a corporate event can feel like a battle. There are schedules and multiple timelines to deal with, keeping track of marketing to attendee's, managing vendors, booking venue and entertainment and a whole host of other variables that are in constant flux. I've been working as a corporate magician and mentalist for over 10 years and in that time, I've met a lot of event planners, both independent and on staff.
While some of them are battle ready soldiers who have a handle on every aspect of the event, I've noticed some blindspots, especially where it comes to hiring the right corporate entertainment. I wanted to put down my thoughts on this, and it is my hope that I can help add some support to those in the trenches.
So, in list format, because it's easiest for me to write and to digest, here are, in no particular order, the things you should know, consider or be aware of when hiring entertainment for your company party.
This is very often overlooked but a very important part of choosing the right entertainment for your event.
An agency who has insurance for all of their entertainment is common, but if you decide to book an entertainer on their own, or through a destination management company (most dmc's require their vendors carry insurance) you need to make sure they carry performers insurance.
Insurance signifies that the particular entertainer you're talking to is professional, detail oriented, has experience in the industry and cares about their clients.
Besides being a good indicator of a professional and experienced entertainer, it is also required by some venues. A lot of hotels, and even some private venues require entertainers to have insurance. This protects them, this protects you. Most specialty insurance brokers start with plans of 1 million and max out at 3 million dollars worth of insurance.
If it can be helped, you need to start looking for and contacting entertainers at a minimum of 3 months before the event, and in the case of a corporate holiday party, maybe up to a year or more in advance. Good entertainers are busy. They book up months or years in advance. During the holidays every year, I get dozens and dozens of calls asking me if I'm available for ABC company's holiday party and more often than not, I'm already booked. Worse than that, I can't even recommend anyone else because they're all booked too. All entertainers know that two Saturday's before Christmas is the busiest day of the year. If you are planning on having your holiday party then, no matter when you're reading this, you should already be calling entertainers.
I worked with a large company this past holiday season, and they had a cool idea. They booked myself and the venue for the middle of January and had their holiday party then. Holiday premiums for the venue were gone and I had the availability. It worked out great for everyone.
3. Do they have a clean show?
I have horror story upon horror story about this topic. It generally goes something like this:
ABC Company hires an entertainer they found online, the magician, comedian, singer, juggler or whoever it is in this situation says something on stage, or in passing while mingling with guests that is racist, rude, politically divisive, or otherwise off color and offends a company executive or company client. That entertainer obviously won't be hired again, but you may be out of a job.
Make absolutely sure that your entertainer works for corporate clients and has a clean show.
3. Show Requirements
This is deeply linked to your choice of venue, or your choice of entertainer. Some services require very specific staging, lighting, sound or space requirements. Some corporate magicians for instance need a full stage with wings on either side, curtains, stair access on the sides of the stage, correct lighting, sound, stairs for the stage, audience placement and the list goes on. Your venue may not be able to support this large of a show. You also have entertainers that work with fire (most magicians have moved away from this because of new pyrotechnic laws) like jugglers, poi spinners and fire breathers. It is vitally important that you check with your venue and see what they allow. This is a ask permission not forgiveness scenario. If you're violating laws or their insurance coverage for the building, they will shut down the event and kick everyone out.
When choosing an entertainer, take a look at the services they offer, if you don't know, ask. Then have an idea in mind of what you might like them to do. Professional entertainers have done hundreds of shows and know what works and what doesn't, they know their shows inside and out and will ask a lot of questions about the venue, how many people, how long the event is and related questions to fully understand what you're going for and offer their recommendations.
A common issue that pops up in my own work is placing a dance floor between the stage and the audience. In my circles, we refer to this as the "dance floor of death" because it kills the energy and efficacy of the show. Two years ago I was working with a client who had forgot to communicate to the hotel that the dance floor needed to be placed after the show. When I arrived at the venue early, I saw that it was already set up, so I made sure to have the dance floor removed and all the tables moved up toward the stage. Some entertainers would have left if it and blamed the hotel for a bad show afterwards but instead of doing that, we fixed it. It was a great show.
4. How are they helping you?
So entertainment is awesome, it's a universal truth since the birth of man, we get bored. We've come up with some really creative ways to entertain ourselves and there have always been entertainers. Sometimes you just need a fun activity to keep everyone having a good time. But have you ever considered that there might be other things an "entertainer" can do to actually help you reach event goals? Things like boosting information retention during a sales meeting, or improving how many purchase orders you get at a product launch? What about deeply connecting your company to your employees and their families in a meaningful way? What about increasing traffic and qualified leads at your tradeshow booth? Or increasing attendance to your events, year over year?
I've been working as a corporate magician and mentalist for over 10 years and coming from a business background has given me a lot of insight into how to help companies connect to their employee's, clients, potential clients and even their community in a fun, positive, memorable but more importantly than that, meaningful way. There are too many forms that this takes for me to put it into a blog post, but if you're interested in how I can help you look like a rockstar and boost your company event to the next level, get in touch. I'm at your service.
About the Author:
Alan Paoletti is the owner of APMagic, a corporate events company based in Plano, Texas.
We're proud to announce that we're a 5 star business on google.
Our clients have spoken and they know that for high quality, corporate event entertainment, there is no other choice than APMagic. We're proud to have been able to serve our clients and customers for over 10 years in Dallas and surrounding areas.
We have also be fortunate to serve clients all over the country for their special event needs.
If you have a corporate event, party, tradeshow or maybe you're just looking for party entertainment for adults in Dallas, you can feel great knowing that you made the right choice with APMagic.
So, I don't blog on here as often as I should, and I'd like to make the change to doing it more often.
I'm getting booked up for the holidays which is great, I'm excited to be coming to a lot of different events this holiday season and helping connect people together.
My Son is getting huge! He's 19 months and refuses to stop growing. This is his second Christmas, and I really love watching it through his eyes. It's like everything old is new again. My Wife and I put up the Christmas tree November 1st and we're singing Christmas songs in the car everyday. Two years ago I would have that that was weird but this year is just a lot of fun.
My brother and sister in law are expecting their first child any day now, the whole family is really excited, we can't wait to meet our new addition to the family. Mom and Dad have decided not to find out the gender of the baby and so it's going to be a surprise for everyone when we find out. My sister in law is really ready to have the kiddo, I think she's tired of being pregnant. I remember when my Wife was pregnant for 10 months, she got so impatient to deliver him. I told them both the same thing, they'll come when they're ready.
Exciting things ahead!
More updates as they come.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
So you’re putting together your annual banquet, cocktail party or high end corporate event and you know that you need entertainment.
What is your plan?
Do you have one yet?
As Nietzsche said,
"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying." (Not that the author agrees with just about anything else Nietzsche said)
Know as many of these things as possible;
Got a plan? Great, now how do we pick the entertainment?
Why are you having the Event?
Why is your organization putting tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into this event?
What does everyone hope they accomplish at it's conclusion? Know what success looks like to you and work with people who care about that vision.
Be realistic when choosing entertainment, if you choose it as an after thought and you've spent all the budget, all you'll be able to afford is low quality acts.
There is a huge difference between a 300.00 act and a 3,000.00 dollar act. It's like a car, you can have a Geo, or you can have a Ferrari, sure they may do the same basic thing, but if you want the performance of a world class act, and the impact it has on an event, you'll have to pay for it. And ultimately the success or failure of the entertainment (and the party) comes back to you the planner.
Also if you’re working smart, you should first hire the venue and then immediately after the entertainment, not only so that you have the budget for it, but because great acts book quickly and may not be available by the time you get around to calling them.
Consider the flow of the evening, what type of mood are you trying to create?
When trying to work out what you should do, it’s a really great idea to envision the outcome. What do you want the outcome to be? After you have that established, work backwards. What do you need to do so that outcome is a reality?
Level of interaction,
Are you looking for high level engagement or just something that everyone can enjoy in the background?
High level engagement would be something like, a magician (like me) or comedian or a speaker. Low level engagement would be a jazz band or DJ that just plays music in the background or a photobooth, something that people can choose not to engage with if they don’t want to.
Size of Venue?
Now if the size of your venue is small of course you're going to be limited by what you can bring in.
You are obviously not going to bring in Cirque de Soleil to a venue the size of a vestibule.
You also want to make sure that your act isn’t too small for the number of guests you have.
As a magician, I perform a variety of different programs depending on the situation and size of the audience, if my services aren’t a good fit for what the planner has in mind, I’ll tell them straight up, it is far more important to me to choose events where I know I’m a perfect fit than to make a quick buck and ruin my reputation.
Most professionals have the same opinion. It is wise to listen to suggestions from them on how they can most effectively serve you and the needs of your event.
Size of Group
The choice of venue is of course directly dependent on this but you’re going to have to take into account how many people you're trying to entertain and are you doing it all at the same time or is the entertainment in the background? Think either music where people can just listen in the background ,or event a cabaret act or strolling magician, where people can choose to engage or not.
How do you know if the entertainer is any good?
This can sometimes be difficult to ascertain. But there are a few sure fire ways to gauge the quality of the entertainer.
Look for testimonials with actual names and the companies they are affiliated with,
Are they appropriate? When hiring entertainment for a corporate function, you must consider the type of material the entertainer has. If it’s “Blue” or racy you may want to steer clear. The last thing you want to do is hire a comedian who uses inappropriate themes or language, not only because it will offend some people, but because that all comes back down on you for choosing them!
I hope this guide has been helpful, if you’re working on your own event I would love to hear about what your doing. (and or more planning tips, download my free guide)
While there is a lot to do when planning a company event, these 5 steps are a great way to make the most of your planning time and bring your project back on track.
(If you enjoy this list you can also download my free pdf with more helpful planning tips by entering your email)
This can seem like an overwhelming task, but breaking it into smaller pieces can help a lot, if you have a team to help you, don't be afraid to delegate, give the task of securing catering to one person, entertainment to the next and so on, having a team that is all on the same page can help too, apps like Wunderlist are fantastic for making sure everybody is on the same page and has the same information.
Budgeting-This is probably the most important aspect of the planning process, most people create a budget without a realistic idea of what each aspect of the event will cost, this will cause shortages in one area and a blow-out in others. When putting together your budget for review, make some phone calls and talk to vendors about fees, be sure you know a few things before you call to get an accurate quote,
1) Where you plan to have the event?
2) How many people in attendance?
3) How long is the event?
4) Who is the event for?
It's better to know what everything will cost and ask for that amount for the budget, than to get a budget and try to make everything fit it, this tip alone will save you lots of stress down the line. Also it's important to listen to the professionals you are speaking with, chances are, if you were convinced to call them, they are experts in what they do and know how to best serve you, and if they aren't the right fit they should tell you, in that case, ask for a referral, they probably know who you should talk to and this will save you time from having to hunt down another vendor.
Program-How will the flow of the evening go? It's a good idea to imagine the event like a story, there is a clear beginning, middle and end. What will people be doing as they come in? Do you have name badges? While not always necessary they are helpful when having a large company party where everyone might not know each other.
Break up long sessions with other activities, if people have to sit for a long time they will become bored and uninterested, nothing worse than a crowd that doesn't want to be there!
If there are people speaking or awards being presented, know who will be speaking, and for how long, we all know that person in the office who can pontificate for hours, checking in with all the speakers and giving them a time limit and signaling them how much time they have left can do wonders for keeping things on track.
Choose your venue carefully and early on, this is the foundation for everything else you'll need to plan. Think about space, how many people are you fitting into this room? If it's too large, people will feel distanced from each other and the party will end up like a middle school dance, too tightly crammed and people will be cranky. This is also important for vendors. Caterers will need to know how much space they will have, DJ's or musicians will need to know how much space they have for their equipment and Entertainers will need to know if their presentations will work in the environment.
Without entertainment, you run the risk of people forming cliques and not interacting with each other, this is a big problem if your goal is to strengthen cross department relationships. People can also become bored and want to leave early or maybe not even show up at all, nothing kills a party faster than low energy. Unique, engaging and meaningful entertainment gives everyone something to talk about besides the weather and can be the difference with how enjoyable and memorable your event is or isn't.
About the Author-
Alan Paoletti is the owner of APMagic, a corporate entertainment company in Plano, Texas and specializes in creating unforgettable experiences for his clients all around the country.
He can be reached at 972-835-1283 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ok guys, this one is going to be a bit of a personal post.
Between yesterday and today I have done so much work on the house getting things ready for our little bundle of joy!
I relocated my office to another room in the house to make my old office into a nursery,
bought and built a dresser, changing table and crib all by myself and done all the normal around the house chores that my very pregnant wife can't manage anymore.
On top of all of that, I'm working! And working hard. I am calling all of my prospects and drumming up business for the new year, certainly needed with my Son on the way.
I might as well get used to being tired, I hear Fatherhood is a full-time kind of gig. :)
Anyway there is my update. Talk soon.
The holidays are here yet again! Time seems to fly by so quickly these days.
If you're looking to (pumpkin) spice things up this year, consider high quality entertainment. We've all had DJ's, photo booths and live bands. They're great, but if you feel like something more engaging, guaranteed to make a splash and leave you're guests talking about your party for a long time afterwards, you should really consider more interactive entertainment, magicians, illusionists and mentalists are unique among entertainers because they engage directly and intimately with the audience, they reach out and make the attendees feel like stars. Great for your upcoming corporate Christmas/Holiday party.
October is cutting it close for booking your holiday entertainment, don't be left behind!
Professional entertainment starts booking Holiday parties a year in advance!
If you'd like to have Alan Paoletti at your next event, fill out a Contact form or call
So, a quick update of what's going on in the world of Alan Paoletti.
New photos and video!
I've also put together a great little closeup magic demo video for those interested in such things, it can be viewed on the video page.
My wife is now 12 weeks pregnant with our baby, we don't know the sex yet, but when we do you better believe there will be an update on that.
On a more somber note, my dear cat, Nala has passed away from a genetic intestinal disorder, the condolences and prayers I've got have been overwhelming and I thank you all for your emotional support during this difficult time.
So it's been a really fun week.
I helped out my friend Trigg Watson, a fellow Dallas Illusionist on a TV show called Masters of Illusion and I just got to see the finished product a little while ago.
It was so much fun to help a fellow magician with the design, rehearsal and filming of this piece.
I'm also working with a large company for a holiday party coming up in December. I had a meeting with them on Wednesday at their corporate office and I have to say that I'm just blown away by the edgy spirit these guys have. You can tell they love their jobs and do them very well. I'll be able to talk more about this client along with pictures from the event in December.
Which of course reminds me, if you're reading this and you haven't thought about getting your holiday party together, save yourself a huge headache and watch my video on event planning for the holidays. It's closer than you think and you're really doing yourself a disservice by procrastinating. It can be fun and easy to do if you start early and work with a professional.
Alright, I'm about out of time, back to work on my corporate training program and preparing for shows! Talk soon.
What a month so far! It's been fun but boy am I pooped.
This month saw me perform for Sabre for the first time, an incredible company with just the coolest people you've ever met. Usually when I do a corporate show like that it is for "infotainment" I'm teaching a team about communication, or sales techniques but this was just straight up for fun. The employees have been doing a very good job at something very difficult and their bosses just wanted to see them have some fun.
Oh, and I had a tree fall on me! Thankfully no one was seriously injured in the accident. I did have to pick up a tree limb off of the lady who was sitting on my left before the branch fell. I was terrified for her but she came out laughing as you can see later in the video.
I need to thank Ty Turner from Flash Film Media for the video, truly a professional who works well under pressure!