Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Creating Valuable Entertainment in Today's Market

In a world where events are no longer held for the sake of "having an event" and event planners are under increasing pressure to justify any and all budget expenditures, it is only fair to ask "what is the value of entertainment to today's events?" The answer is a resounding - IT DEPENDS!

Entertainment as an industry is far too diverse to be painted with such a wide brush, and like any other service or commodity, the value of particular items rise and fall to meet the demands of their audience. In order to answer the question, it might be helpful to break down the answer to the question in the different categories of entertainment.

The definition of value is "the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something." As an entertainment producer for the special events industry for over 30 years, I've always felt that there are four value propositions that an entertainer of any kind can bring to an event.

1. Generate Your Own Audience:  The most valuable entertainers are performers that are capable of drawing guests to an event. Examples of these kind of entertainers would include headline entertainment (Maroon 5, The Rolling Stones, the Dave Matthews Band), or popular stage shows (Cirque du Soleil or Blue Man Group), or cultural stars (the winner of America's Got Talent or  someone like the US Airways pilot that successfully landed the jet in the Hudson River.)

2. Be Memorable: Remember the first time you saw waiters that began singing in the audience, or the first time you saw a woman dressed in a gown that held champagne glasses, or the first time you saw an aerialist hanging suspended from a huge inflatable balloon? These entertainers justify their value by creating a buzz that continues well after the event.

3. Focus Attention: Much has been written about the shortening of audience attention spans. However, successful event professionals overcome that obstacle by creating short moments requesting the audience's attention, and in the process, getting the audience to turn their heads in the direction predetermined by the planner. This is especially true at the beginning of business meetings and during award ceremonies, where an audience may be engaged in conversation and the planners wants everyone focused on the stage. Entertainers that have honed their presentation into 4-6 minutes of high impact shows continue to demonstrate value in the market.

4. Interact with the Audience: Entertainers who interact with their audiences have a much greater value than static performers. The old standbys like caricaturists, fortune tellers, and strolling magicians continue to find steady work, while a new generation of interactive entertainment includes I-Pad caricaturists and hi-tech photo booths that allow you to post your photos directly to a social media outlet.

In addition, Andrea Michaels reminded me of a further consideration. "When I coined the word edutainment," she said, "it was because I believe that every educational experience can also be entertaining. Edutainment is entertainment that educates in a way that an educator cannot. If you look at the definition of entertainment, it means far more than a song and dance group. It can also mean creating emotional connections. For instance, some of the experiences Paul created for The Special Event openings take obstacles and challenges and make them meaningful (while being humorous). This also creates 'connection' from performer to audience and then from one audience member to another, creating a sense of community. The very best speakers are truly 'entertainers' while they give information because they make themselves into performers and not just talking heads. Whatever it takes to get the information across, or the brand experienced in an unforgettable way is NOT dispensable."

Endangered Entertainment

There are plenty of examples of entertainment that do not fit these value propositions, and these are the acts that are in danger of becoming extinct. For example, the ubiquitous three-to-four piece  jazz group for cocktails and dinner (that can be easily replaced by an I-pod) or a run-of-the-mill variety dance band that only knows 80 songs (easily replaced by DJs that can offer 7,000 songs) are types of entertainers having trouble finding work in today's market.

So if the question is "does entertainment have value in today's event market?" the answer is now more than ever! Of course, that assumes that event planners identify the "value" they are looking for, and that they put the entertainment in the best possible opportunity to succeed. But that's another conversation.

Paul Creighton is Executive Vice President of T. Skorman Productions, Inc. based in Orlando, Florida. He has worked for the past 35 years in the entertainment business, both on-stage and in front of the stage. To learn more about T. Skorman Productions, visit You may reach Paul via

Learn more about Andrea Michaels and Extraordinary Events at
Check out Andrea's book, Reflections of a Successful Wallflower, by visiting 

You may reach Andrea via

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