Planning an Event? Keep SAFE: Speaker, Audience, Food, Entertainment


The Diva & Jennifer O’Neill

Your Business Blogger(R) attended an annual fund raiser for the Baltimore Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) a few years ago.  The event was flawless (or made to appear so, which is even more impressive).

When planning your next event or evaluating a get-together, consider this four part test which every good, SAFE party has: speaker, audience, food, entertainment.

1.  Speaker.  The keynoter is key to success and the bottom-line.  In today’s case study Jennifer O’Neill was on target and on fire.  Summer of ‘42, Rio Lobo with John Wayne, Cover Girl. Standing O at the end.

Jennifer O’Neill

Our favorite family motto is delectare et docere, to please and to instruct.  A great keynote does both.  Jennifer O’Neill delivered.

Remember speaker honorariums and speaking personalities are part of the event experience.  I served on two boards where we hosted two contrasting events: one where Steve Forbes, who donated his fee and Bill Bennett, who didn’t.  Dr. Bennett’s $40,000 speaking charge generated marginal returns on our investment.  His subsequent gambling away (of my money!) was not helpful.

The Bible says that a workman is worthy of his wages:  honorariums should always be offered. 

2.  Audience.  The people attending usually will be familiar with each other.  If not, provide some mixer or movement to trigger circulation. This CPC event used a silent auction where lines formed—a queue for conversation. Assertive staff made introductions—good staff introductions are micro warm-up acts.

Use a professional photographer who will create forced group shots.  I find a snarky photographer bully the best.  Everyone smiles; no one refuses. 

The audience was also packed in.  Adjust room size to have every table filled.  Rub elbows, knocking about.  This is most important and difficult for outdoor events.  See audience below. 

3.  Food.  Will your event be remembered as another rubber chicken dinner?  This CPC avoided this with an excellent roast beef entree and an outstanding wait staff/attendee ratio for the experience. 

4.  Entertainment.  The CPC event continued its perfection.  We live in a sight and sound generation where people expect to see movement. The Maryland Boys Choir provided the music, the motion.  God Fearing Gospel struck a cord with this audience. [cliche and pun combo] The 90 young men brought the house down pleasing the packed crowd. 

‘Packed’ being key.  This can be a challenge to manage in some venues where the sardine packing is not possible.  For example, comedians will not perform at outdoor events because there may be gaps too large between the attendees. 

Laughter and entertainment and germs spread best in tight groups.

At your next gathering look around and see if it passes the SAFE test.


Full Disclosure:  My friend, Tom Bury, provided consulting and imprinted tokens for each attendee.  Did I mention the evening was perfect…?

Remember: in planning for the number of attendees, the headcount, the walk-ons-the unregistered-always equal the cancellations. For example, at a recent small talk, where Charmaine keynoted there were 30 pre-registered. The final count was 30.  Walk-ons equal cancellations.

Be sure to follow Your Business Blogger(R) and Charmaine on Twitter: @JackYoest and @CharmaineYoest

Jack and Charmaine also blog at Reasoned Audacity and at Management Training of DC, LLC.

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