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Atlanta Magician – Mentalist – Speaker Joe M. Turner | News and Comments from the Chief Impossibility Officer

Posts Tagged ‘banquet’

Media Hit: Top Business Consultant to Speak at Chamber Banquet

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on January 30, 2012

Here’s a nice media hit from a couple of weeks ago; it was promoting my appearance at the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce that happened last weekend. Somehow I missed it when it came out, but here it is.

Thank you, Dyersburg, for a great evening! I am looking forward to visiting again and seeing the results of the great opportunities you have on the horizon for your city, county, and region.

From Dyersburg State Gazette

Top business consultant to speak at Chamber banquet

Joe M. Turner | Speaker - Entertainer - Consultant

Joe M. Turner


Sunday, January 15, 2012
Special to the State Gazette

Sometimes achieving success in challenging circumstances doesn’t just seem difficult – it can seem downright impossible. Remember, though: things aren’t always what they seem! On Saturday, Jan. 28, “Chief Impossibility Officer” Joe M. Turner brings a special presentation designed to inspire us to rethink the impossible in the coming year.

Turner was a manager in the global change management consulting practice at Accenture, and later a vice president of associate development in the Business Practices Integration division of Bank of America. Those years of experience in training, business communication, human performance development and change management initiatives at numerous Fortune 100 clients give Turner credibility and insight into the challenges that individuals, teams, and organizations face as they encounter changing environments.

Full article: http://www.stategazette.com/story/1804733.html

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The High Price of Cheap Entertainment

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on October 4, 2010

How Magic Works In Corporate Settings
Part Four: The High Price of Cheap Entertainment

Iceberg Dead Ahead!

Don't Sink Your Event! Just when you think you've dodged the budget iceberg by skimping on the entertainment or speaking budget, you discover the immense hidden costs lurking beneath the surface.

Even in a great economy, event planners and producers are right to be cost-conscious. Experienced planners, though, know that there are always significant hidden costs and risks associated with putting low-fee, bargain-basement entertainers or speakers in front of their audience. It destroys the event’s effectiveness. It embarrasses the audience. It undermines the organization’s credibility. Sometimes it can even cost the planner his or her job.

In the last decade I have helped numerous planners overcome “last year’s disaster” – cheesy, amateurish, or foul-mouthed ‘bargains’ that ultimately cost them much more than they thought they had saved. People who know that value considerations are at least as important as price concerns make great clients, but I always wish they could have avoided the painful lesson that got them there. Unfortunately, it took a bad experience — followed by a great experience with me! — for these good folks to learn what savvy consumers have known from time immemorial:

You get what you pay for.

Especially during tough times, I get calls for events where it is clear that the planner is dialing through a list of phone numbers looking for any breathing human who will stand on a stage in return for whatever budget remains after paying for the room, decor, and food… that is to say, for nearly nothing. In their quest to save money, these inexperienced planners are basing the single most focused and memorable part of the evening on ‘whomever we can find for what we have left.’

Your group will be talking to each other and interacting while having cocktails and dinner, but their full attention will be focused on the after-dinner performer for the better part of an hour. From the time the show starts until it ends, the quality of that performance doesn’t just affect the quality of the event – it is the quality of the event. That experience is what the audience really takes with them as their memory of the event – not the floral arrangement, gift bag, or logo-embossed desk accessory. Good or bad, that performance is going to be discussed more than any other element of the event.

  • If the food is mediocre and the entertainment is great, people will remember the entertainment.
  • If the decor is mediocre and the entertainment is great, people will remember the entertainment.
  • If the food is great, the decor is beautiful, the venue is breathtaking, and the entertainment is bad… people will remember the entertainment.

No matter what else happens, people remember the entertainment because that is what holds their attention for the most time and with the most focus and intensity.

I recently got a call from an association that was planning an annual gala in a beautiful, trendy hotel in Atlanta. This was a small group of only a few hundred people, but they were business professionals from around the region, celebrating an important annual event with a nice dinner. They also wanted a professional after-dinner show, but the fee they proposed as an entertainment budget was literally about one-tenth of a reasonable starting price for that service.

Many performers and speakers would have quickly ended the conversation and moved on. I took a different approach, though, because I want this group to have a successful event whether I’m there or not.

Here’s what I shared with them:

As much as I’d love to get your organization’s business immediately, I’m more interested in helping you have a successful event. That way, I’ll have earned your trust, and you’ll know that I’ll be honest and professional with you when you call me in the future and you have a realistic budget to work with.

So here’s what you need to know to have a successful gala event this year: Do not proceed with this plan. The nature of the venue you have chosen demands more than the lowest-common-denominator. If $X is your budget, you should not hire an entertainer this year. Get extra drinks, or decor, or music. Show a fun video montage of people in your organization. But do not use that money to hire an entertainer. Any performer you could get for that fee is not a performer you want to put in front of an audience of professional adults at an annual gala, especially in such a nice venue. That substandard performance will only cloud your interest in having a true professional at a future event when you could have afforded it.

I have no doubt that you can use a phone book or a search engine to find someone who will do this for you at that fee. When you find that person, run as fast as you can in the other direction. You will have found an inexperienced, sub-par performer who is desperate to put the words ‘corporate events’ on his or her web site or résumé. This is not what you want for your audience. Better to save the money than hire anyone for that amount.

Money down the drain

'Bargain' entertainers and speakers for corporate events are money down the drain.

For professional audiences and events, cheap entertainment is an expensive, high-stakes wager on a losing proposition. The hidden costs – reduced effectiveness, diminished credibility, and lasting negative impact – far outweigh the tantalizing prospect of getting an imagined bargain on a speaker or entertainer.

There are creative ways to achieve professional results on a wide range of budgets, and I love working with my clients to find those solutions. But you can always trust me to tell you where the real opportunities and the real limits are, and to be honest about what will work best for your event and your audience.

Bottom line – the success of your meeting, conference, or gala is as important to me as it is to you. I look forward to working with you, whether as a speaker or an entertainer, to create a successful event.

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Planning for After-Dinner Entertainment: Visibility Matters

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on September 15, 2010

How Magic Works In Corporate Settings
Part Three: Convention Dinners and Galas – Visibility

One special evening of a conference or convention – often the final evening – is typically built around a gala banquet event and some kind of after-dinner entertainment.  Presenting a solidly entertaining show for these audiences is a core competency for my profession.

As you might imagine, I’ve found myself in a variety of venues and performing situations along the way.  Like every meeting and event planner, I’ve also had to deal with last moment challenges and changes.  Technical problems, lost luggage, travel issues… you probably have your own list of horror stories.  Part of being a professional is being prepared to deal with those curve balls.  Whether the audience is fifty people or fifteen hundred or more, I’ve got to be ready to create a successful experience for the audience, no matter what.

That said, there are a number of points on which meeting and event planners can work with performers up front to make sure that known pitfalls are avoided, creating the best possible environment for a successful event.

One major pitfall is the issue of visibility.  The audience must be able to see the performance.  This is an obvious point, but in the planning of a large event, this singularly important component of the experience can be inadvertently weakened by seemingly unrelated choices.

In this article, I’ll share some concepts on the importance of visibility, plus some personal “lessons learned” that meeting and event planners can keep in mind to enhance the success of after-dinner entertainment for their galas and banquets.  Even if you’re working with entertainment of a non-magical nature, it’s worthwhile to do at least a mental run-through of your event plan with these concepts in mind.

A large centerpiece, while dramatic, can obstruct the view of everything else in the room.

A large centerpiece, while dramatic, can obstruct the view of everything else in the room.

Obstructions

Consider those tall, elegant centerpieces on the tables.  Bold, artistic centerpieces can set a dramatic tone in a banquet room, but they can also hinder conversation at the tables.  If there is an after-dinner performer or speaker on the bill, consider a smaller piece.  Alternatively, you can arrange with the host or banquet captain to have the centerpieces moved to another location before the performer begins.  You might move them to tables along the outside walls of the room, or use them to create another decorative element in the room such as a bordered walkway to a photographer’s corner or the exit.

Besides centerpieces, are there balloons, lighting trees, extra microphone stands, an unneeded speaker’s podium, tray jacks, or other extraneous items obstructing or cluttering the audience’s view of the platform?

Lighting

In addition to possible physical obstructions, lighting is crucial to visibility.  Discuss the options with your performer.  I work in a variety of environments, either using the venue’s existing lighting, or working with the production company if the event is using theatrical lighting.  When budget is a concern, an act who can work effectively with a venue’s existing lighting is a smart choice.  When producing a large event, though, there’s no substitute for professionally produced lighting.

Platform or Stage

It’s a given that a raised platform or stage not only improves visibility, but also enhances the production value and theatrical impact of an event.  That said, if your event has fewer than 100 people, you can often produce a successful event without a raised platform or stage.  With enough space between tables, everyone can see a properly positioned speaker.  Consider a corner of the room for the stage area; this can sometimes allow you to dodge inconvenient columns or posts.  Some groups working with a limited budget can find success by setting up tables on one end of a large room and theater-style seating on the other; if your group doesn’t mind changing seats for the show, you can accommodate larger numbers without using a stage.  If going without a stage, make sure the lighting and sound are flawless.

Distance

Distance is a key component of both visibility and a sense of immediacy.  Separating a performer or speaker from the audience with a dance floor or other large open space always reduces the effectiveness of the presentation and diminishes the audience’s experience (Figure 1).  Splitting an audience with a dance floor (Figure 2) will also drain the energy from a live presentation or performance.

Figure 1 - Avoid Figure 1 - Avoid Figure 3 - Preferred

If a dance floor is required, place it to one side of the room and add an additional table for the DJ (Figure 3).  If the DJ or band must use the same stage as the performer, or if the dance floor cannot be repositioned, try to place seating on the floor until the dinner and show are concluded, then have those tables removed during a break after the featured performance and before the dance music starts.

Atlanta magician and keynote speaker Joe M. Turner presents an illusion via IMAG at a 2010 conference.

Atlanta magician and keynote speaker Joe M. Turner presents an illusion via IMAG at a 2010 conference.

IMAG

Image magnification, or IMAG, can be a valuable solution to problems of distance and staging.  By projecting the speaker, presenter, or entertainer’s image on large video screens, problems of distance are quickly overcome.  In addition to allowing more viewers to see the proceedings at a greater distance, it also broadens the scale and thus the variety of entertainment which can be presented effectively.

With regard to magic specifically, IMAG allows performer to use a wider range of equipment and draw upon a broader repertoire of material during the show.  For example, a magic routine with a handful of dollar bills, a deck of cards, or the company’s annual report suddenly becomes just as visible to thousands of people as a full-scale stage illusion.  This can result in savings on the entertainment budget because the transportation of additional illusions and assistants may be trimmed if the show is designed for a single performer.

If you think IMAG may potentially be part of your event plan, discuss it with your performer so that you both talk through the full range of options available as part of the entertainment.  One last tip – please don’t record the projected video without the knowledge and consent of the performer; an infinite set of repeat performances for future audiences is an added value for which performers and speakers deserve to be compensated.

Head Tables

Whether at a dinner or a luncheon, no experienced speaker or performer ever wants to be trapped behind a lectern at a head table.  Add a platform on another wall to improve focus on your performer and to give him or her space to move.  Likewise, the people at the head table should not be relegated to watching the side or back of any presenter.  Give your performer or speaker the opportunity to make an excellent, lasting impression on your organization’s leadership by letting them experience the presentation as it is intended to be seen: from the front.

In Conclusion…

Good visibility is critical to the after-dinner entertainment experience.  Savvy event planners and meeting planners keep visibility in mind even when working on details that seem unrelated to the entertainment.  First-time planners — often those who have recently been tapped for “this year’s event” — sometimes find themselves surprised at the last minute when all the pieces of the puzzle are finally in the same room at the same time.  These tips are intended as helpful hints from someone who has worked through the challenges and wants to help you create the best possible environment for your successful event.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on entertainment and event-planning pitfalls… and how to avoid or overcome them!  And in the meantime, if you’re planning a meeting or special event – call me and let’s talk about how my visual and psychological illusions can add value to your conference or banquet.

Distance

Distance is a key

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