Choosing the right entertainment

You love comedy, so does the boss, but what happens when the comedian you hire for a corporate event says something off-color? Crickets. Discomfort. An early night.

“Appropriate corporate entertainment really depends on the culture of the company,“ said Matthew Helmer, executive director of CSU Events and Constituent Engagement. “You really want something that’s as accessible to as many people as possible. Comedy can be really hard because it can go wrong very easily.”

Comedy and specialized musical entertainment like heavy metal might be a no-go for your corporate culture, but there’s plenty out there that will please most.

Musically, string quartets, classical artists or old-school rock tend to resonate with most audiences.

If you want your entertainment to stand out, reach out to performing artists who can do a reading, perform a dance or act out a scene of a play.

“Arts groups … are a great resource for connecting business to performers,“ said Amanda Miller, director of details and owner of Fort Collins-based The Place Setting Co. “If you need someone really specific or niche, you can work through a talent agency. There are hundreds of people out there who can help you find the right mix.”

These agencies can help book national talent, which is obviously going to be more expensive than local talent but might be more fitting for your event.

No matter the entertainment, keep your eye on time. Rare is the employee who wants to watch every act of “King Lear“ after a long day of training.

“Rather than an hour- or two-hour production, have them preform a vignette,“ Miller said about hiring a preforming arts group.

Big events — particularly fundraisers — need to be memorable.

One event planner recalled working with a company that hosted an event at an air hangar. The evening’s raffle included a trip to an unknown destination leaving on a plane from the hangar after the event.

If the event is near company headquarters, consider inviting the families of your employees. This is a nice transition from work to play and can bring employees closer together. Again, entertainment needs to be appropriate. Face-painting, clowns and family-friendly performers tend to be popular with families.

Providing off-site entertainment — especially if it’s an overnight retreat or meeting — is a great way to leave the conference room behind.

Educational or themed city tours are also fun. Scavenger hunts and seasonal tours, such as a city ghost tour, can also bring the team together.

Avoiding mine fields

Oftentimes, when it’s time for entertainment, it’s also time for a cocktail. While most people know how to handle themselves in this setting, safety should be a priority.

“In a retreat-type setting, people seem to drink more heavily, which is another reason people like coming to a hotel,” one planner said. “They want to go out and have drinks without the responsibly of driving home.”

If you think drinking might be a problem, either provide transportation, send out a code of conduct or restrict the amount of liquor the company pays for.


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