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How to use entertainment to bring your event to life

How to use entertainment to bring your event to life

Top tips when hiring event entertainment

A great event should take you on a journey to unexpected experiences and it should stay with you long after the event has finished; reliving it in your memory and brought back to life as you retell and share it with others. And one of the best ways to bring your event story to life is through entertainment.

It’s rare that people forget things that make them happy which is why live entertainment is a great tool for ensuring your event is memorable. Good music and a perfectly selected performer will make your event stand out from the rest, bring guests together and help them stay engaged throughout the event.

Once any formalities are out of the way, it’s the role of the entertainment to ensure the event delivers a high so it’s important to choose with care. These days guests don’t want to just attend an event, they want to be involved in the event. OK, so not everyone enjoys being ‘picked to perform’ but most of us want to interact in some way, even if that’s just sharing a moment, so an act that can engage is a great start.


A recent study found 72 percent of millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things. People want to feel a part of the experience so why not take that knowledge and leverage it into your event entertainment?

Of course, entertainment doesn’t just have to well, ahem, entertain. Yes, there’s nothing like a brilliant live band to get everyone up on the dancefloor and go wild with abandon but it can also be used strategically.

“There are many ways to bring entertainment into your event and tell brand stories, for example we created a Virtual Lion King show for Unity and we used to their logo to make the animal prints on the dancers. It was subtle and you just caught glimpses of it at certain angles on camera. We have also created brand logos and even incorporated David Bowie’s face for a client at a charity Gala. Watching something like that come together live or virtually really does have a lasting impression and it feels personal.” Jane Coulston Beyond Repair Entertainment.

Whether you’re going for a high impact live performance or a fully immersive experience, it’s the entertainment that brings the story to life so think about how it can be used as a key component in the design and structure of your event.

Goals you might want to think about when choosing your entertainment:

  • Practical. Welcome guests with Meet & Greet characters giving them a taste of the excitement to follow and who can also be used as ‘human signage’ around the venue.
  • Educate. Use entertainment to communicate and make key messages memorable and incorporate team building activities to help your staff work together and generate connection and community.
  • Interact. Group activities don’t have to be long, we love mini quick-fire creative workshops where you can meet other people and learn a new skill or even better help your staff work together as a team and leave their mark by creating something that will live on after the event finishes.
  • Inspire. From motivational speakers, inspirational speakers and entrepreneurs to sports stars, celebrities and after-dinner raconteurs, a great story teller (that’s on brand for your event) is a brilliant way to bring a crowd together and give them inspiration for years to come.
  • Surprise & delight. Wandering entertainment acts such as spoken word performers, silhouette artists, caricaturists, strongmen or fortune tellers, can be dispersed throughout a venue or event. Some performers could be interactive walkabout acts whilst others could be ‘hidden’ in different spaces for guests to discover. Surprise and delight is the way to keep guests engaged and drip feeding entertainment is a great way to help your guests stay interested.
  • Transitions. If you’re running a long event like a conference, then entertainment is a great tool for break-out sessions and putting some energy back into the day but it can also be used at other events to help change the mood e.g. flash mob performers really engage guests with their upbeat surprise entertainment performances. Or if you’re looking for something a bit calmer, how about a puppy playpen?! They’re great for engagement and also to relieve stress by taking a moment out of a busy event schedule (it should go without saying but always work with an approved animal trainer).

Pitch perfect: do your research

The least eagerly anticipated part of an evening’s entertainment is often the speech. ‘They rather dreaded the after-dinner speech of their host (an inevitable item). He was liable to drag in bits of what he called poetry’. In the Fellowship of the Ring, host Bilbo sensibly waits until his guests are well refreshed and by the time he gets to his furry feet ‘Most of the company were, however, now in a tolerant mood, at that delightful stage which they called ”filling up the corners” … They were prepared to listen to anything, and to cheer at every full stop.” The Fellowship Of The Ring (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkein.

We all know what we don’t want (goodbye long boring speeches) but when it comes to entertainment choosing the right act can be overwhelming, especially given the enormous range of options that are out there. A good piece of advice? Don’t be a magpie and select the first shiny act you see. The latest trending act might be tempting but are they experienced in performing at events? A big name doesn’t necessarily mean best. What about trying an emerging act? Your budget will certainly go further and they’re more likely to be amenable to requests and tailoring their performance to suit you.

“You can use entertainment like you punctuate a page or a paragraph. Thinking about where you want people to be and for how long. How you would like the event to flow can all be directed through your entertainment, whether that’s pop up elements that guide people through a story, or a host character that can connect the evening. Pace is different for every event, it can build to something or ebb and flow subtly for a book launch or gallery opening. So many spaces, moods and paces ” Jane Coulston Beyond Repair Entertainment. 

Go back to your event goal; a clear understanding of the brand, the audience and the location are the key factors to ensure the entertainment is right. The objective and type of event will dictate the type of guests you’ll be having, helping you match the entertainment to the guests in appropriate ways. After all, booking a rock band for a formal gala dinner might achieve the surprise factor but it’s unlikely to deliver the delight.

“It’s so important that your entertainment is as integral to your event as the venue, catering, decor and guest list. Planning your entertainment should be easy if you know what the aim of your event is. If it is networking then it should be subtle, easily observed and non-interruptive for example, if it is a big gala event it should be WOW and unforgettable but individual where possible, how can it be made to feel personal? A good entertainment supplier can guide you through all of this.” Jane Coulston Beyond Repair Entertainment.

Entertainment that is in line with company image will make a positive impression on your guests so look for acts that won’t make your guests feel awkward, confused, and out of place. Remember that scene in Succession when Kendall raps to commemorate 50 years of his father, Logan, running Waystar Royco? It’s not so much the rap that’s bad but it’s the context of the performance that it makes it so utterly toe-curling. There are few things more painful than trying to elicit some joy out of a crowd that is, for the most part, extremely not into something.


Choosing entertainment is pretty straight forward if you’ve got a clearly defined audience but what if that audience is made up of different generations? That’s the challenge we faced for an event we hosted at Illuminate at the Science Museum.

This is where a clear creative brief comes in handy. Having one theme (futuristic) enabled us to curate different types of experiences that appealed to different age groups but still felt relevant. Our interactive games such as motion based driving simulators went down a storm but we also had a range of dancers and gymnasts for those who wanted to simply watch and admire, as well as an interactive Bubbleologist who kept the younger guests mesmerised with square bubbles, smoke bubbles, flat bubbles, the tiniest bubbles in the world and other jaw dropping tricks.

How much is too much

“As well as swimming and taking rides in the host’s motorboat there is music. Gatsby’s parties feature a full orchestra, ‘no thin five-piece affair but a whole pitfull of oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and cornets and piccolos, and low and high drums.’ As well as popular hits of the day, such as ‘Three O’Clock in the Morning, a neat, sad little waltz of that year’, the band also tackles the more heavyweight repertoire.”  The Great Gatsby (1925) by F.Scott Fitzgerald.

Whilst it’s not necessary to go-all out like Jay Gatsby does in The Great Gatsby (budget alone will often rule this out) we would recommend staggering your entertainment throughout the event. Musicians playing background music as guests arrive is a treat whilst a wandering entertainer like a magician will be a great ice-breaker whilst finishing on a bang with a big performance will ensure the evening ends on a high. As well as creating the big wow moments, entertainment can be used to pace the event.

“Try to avoid picking entertainment to tick a box, less can be more and you don’t have to have lots of acts to make something feel entertaining. Quality over quantity often makes things more memorable.” Jane Coulston Beyond Repair Entertainment.

A well-planned event will keep everyone engaged throughout, dialling the entertainment up or down; this could be to help break up the day or just help guests liaise with others by giving them something fun to talk about or do. And if you can incorporate any messaging or branding to personalise your entertainment then ever better as it helps retention as well as spreading the word. If guests are having fun then the mood becomes positive and the energy of the event increases

Entertainment acts that surprise and delight, such as spoken word performers, silhouette artists, caricaturists, strongmen or fortune tellers, can be dispersed throughout a venue or event. Some performers would be interactive walkabout acts whilst others could be ‘hidden’ in different spaces for guests to discover. Surprise and delight is the way to keep guests engaged and drip feed entertainment is a great way to help your guests stay interested.

I love the nightlife

“The guests danced until ‘every cheek was crimson and the floor was scattered with fans, hairpins, shoe-buttons and wilting flowers.” Cold Comfort Farm (1932) by Stella Gibson.

After not being able to hold events for so long I can confirm that there is nothing better than that moment when a live band starts to play, or the DJ drops the first beat, and seeing guests rush onto the dancefloor. People love discos and they love to dance. Now more than ever.

We like to have a combination of live music as well as DJs at our events and often combine the two together with live performers (like a sax player) enhancing the DJs set. Whatever you choose work with someone who knows how to ‘read the room’ and create an atmosphere with build-ups and crescendos.

Virtual insanity 

The world of entertainment has changed enormously in the last few years. Technology is advancing all the time and that means there are now plenty of exciting ways digital technology can be incorporated into your entertainment option, providing new ways to connect. From virtual to augmented reality gaming, LED entertainers, walkabout robots there’s plenty of unique digital entertainment to choose from.  Photobooths have been replaced by digital mirrors and gaming tables moving over for simulators.  Artists can capture a portrait on an ipad and print it off in minutes whilst LED dancers can have your company’s logo scrolling across their outfits as they perform.

Immersive experiences

‘Immersive’ has become the buzz word that you now see on nearly every event brief and it seems that you can hardly leave the house anymore without bumping into some new immersive experience popping up. It goes back to what we said at the beginning, people no longer want to passively consume; they want to actively engage. But sometimes in the rush to deliver immersive experiences, the quality can sometimes be sacrificed along the way. So by all means look to incorporate ways to involve your guests through entertainment but make sure it’s there for a reason not just a gimmick and that way it will be meaningful and memorable.

Jane Coulston from Beyond Repair Entertainment advises using immersive entertainment to “bring your space to life by allowing performers to compliment it and bring the artistry to the guests. It can be done in many ways, roaming actors, artists, living art and games/activities, when the performance is immersed around the guests it really does bring that experience element to life.”

With experience in producing award winning events, a string of happy clients and a team of individually talented professionals, Evolve Events is the perfect event agency for delivering high standards.  Our team have over twenty one years’ experience in producing events and team is headed up by Gary Peters who has been voted as one of the most influential people in the events industry. Our event services including venue finding, set design, styling and build, AV and lighting, stage management, sourcing entertainment &  quality catering – and of course, event invitations.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you produce and style your event then please get in touch and we can chat through your requirements.

To get more event ideas you can visit our blog here or follow us on social media at @evolveevents.

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