How to Prepare for an Entertainer or Guest Speaker
You’ve done your research and selected an entertainer to perform at your event or venue. Now what? Whether you’re planning an event in a theater, library, conference room, classroom, or living room, asking a few questions will set expectations and eliminate stress for both you and the performer(s).
Terms of payment
Discuss where to direct the invoice and/or contract and payment method. Indicate whether you or your organization has policies regarding the payment of vendors. If a deposit is required, ask about the terms.
Exchange contact info for the weeks prior and day of event. If there is another contact person on the day of the event, relay the contact information for that person, as well.
If you are advertising the event, ask the performer for a bio, photo, logo, and/or a description of the presentation. If you are trying to promote the event publicly, see if the entertainer can send out announcements through email, on their website, or through their social media sites. Provide detailed information for the release to avoid inaccurate information being advertised.
Order of events
If your guest is doing more than one thing (e.g. a show and book signing, face painting, etc.) discuss the order of events. Discuss whether you are needed to direct the audience from one activity to another.
Ask the performer when they intend to arrive and how much set up time is required. Determine if the will require any help/equipment for load in or set up. Where applicable, ask if they prefer the audience wait until show time to be seated or if early arrivals are ok. Direct the performer to any changing area or practice space as requested or practical.
Determine if the performer needs sound or lighting equipment and who is providing it. In addition, a performer may need tables, chairs, or extension cords.
If space is an issue, discuss who will delineate the space or determine preferred staging area. If there are other performers or activities before or after, make sure the performer is aware of any time constraints. If they are performing at the same time as other activities, consider the noise level of each and allow ample foot traffic space between areas.
Consider how the audience will be seated (if there is a choice) and if the performer has a preference of theater style, in a U shape, or on the floor or ground.
When possible, save a parking space close to the venue for the performer. If they need a pass or if there are specific areas to park, get that information to the performer ahead of time. As a nice gesture, let them know of any construction or traffic detours in the area.
Who/where to report
Especially if it’s in a larger venue, let your performer know where and to whom they should report. A cell phone is a great option for busy events.
Determine who will introduce the performer. If the performer would like you to do the introduction and it is more the just the name, have it written for you to read.
Ask how long it will take for packing up and getting out. If there is a set closing time or time you need/want to leave, inform the performer in advance.
If there is a chance the event could get cancelled, inform the performer prior to booking the event and decide upon cancellation plans. Discuss the time at which the decision will be made and any plans to reschedule.
I hope that’s been helpful! Is there something else that you wish you had discussed prior to an event that would have made it better? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!