Professional magician Ed Sumner discusses how interactive entertainment can make the difference at corporate events.
Many aspects go into creating an event, from food to venue to decorations. One aspect that is often relegated to further down the list is entertainment. According to professional magician Ed Sumner, this shouldn’t be the case: “There are many types of events that might be considered corporate – an awards night, a Christmas party or even a small team gathering in a restaurant. The constant throughout all events is that at their core they are about people. Close up entertainment is an excellent choice because things like magic are interactive.”
Good entertainment should be flexible and able to tailor their performance to suit your event’s needs: “Close up magic, where the performer mixes with guests, is a great way to welcome people during a drinks reception, or where networking is part of the schedule. It helps to break the ice, set the mood, and start conversations around a shared moment of the impossible. Or after dinner, a stage show is a great way to up the wow factor. Whatever you have in mind, it’s worth a conversation.”
Having up-close entertainment also adds a lot to the experience for delegates: “By integrating with guests, up-close performances break down barriers so people want to be involved. The best performance is interactive, not passive! Imagine a room filling with uncontrollable laughter, gasps of amazement and rapturous applause. Imagine people turning to their best friend and asking them, “How did you do that?” That’s what entertainment adds to events.”
Finding a way to incorporate this into an event seamlessly can be a tricky process, but it is well worth the effort: “There is a saying in magic, which I think applies across the whole events planning industry. People are either there to remember, or they are there to forget. With that in mind, the best advice for someone hiring a performer is to make it a feature of the event. Even if you’re only adding in a taste of magic, such as during the guest’s arrival, treat it as something special. Tell guests in advance so they can get excited about it. The best events I have performed at are the ones where people have been genuinely enthusiastic about what I do.”
Finding the perfect performer for your event is equally as important as the type of entertainment you choose. Luckily, Ed has a few tricks up his sleeve in that regard: “Much of hiring of talent is about the personality of the performer,” Ed explains. “Do you want this person at your event? I honestly believe the best way to get a feel for someone is to speak to them. While an initial enquiry might come via email, it’s always a good idea to speak on the phone. A short ten minute phone call could save you hours of emailing back and forth.
“Another important factor is, of course, experience and being able to solve issues that can come up during the performance. You may look at their online reviews, and photos or videos of them performing to make a shortlist. But speak to those on your shortlist and it will become pretty clear, pretty quickly, whether they know what they are talking about or not. Being confident in who you choose is paramount”