The Main Event

Do you plan events for the corporate world like product launches, conferences, seminars, etc? If so, look into these seven practices of successful event planners. You can easily dismiss these points as trivial or as something that doesn’t apply to you, as I did at one time. Slowly however, I learned to apply them as I saw I events become unraveled right before my very eyes, because I chose to ignore these simple guidelines.  This has been learned the hard way, and although they’re pretty basic, most event planners agree this is the main stuff you need to be aware of for successful event planning.

  1. Be certain that information flows freely across your teamLook, event planning is rarely done in isolation. In most cases you’ll have a team of individuals who you’ve delegated various responsibilities to.  It can be very easy to generate assumptions that everyone knows what the focus of the event is, and exactly how what they’re doing fits in with what everyone else is doing. But both assumptions may be totally incorrect.

At the start of your event planning effort, take time to share your event’s objective along with your “Plan B” policy with every single one on your staff. Make sure you huddle in with all of them to explain this.  Have regular meetings to assess the progress on an ongoing basis to ensure that everyone is cognizant of all aspects of the event. Continue reading

Paranormal Activity

There is one area we still have not talked about in my blogs. Spiritualism. Although many of you Alexandrites may not choose to work presentations of this type into your shows, the subject has recently gained much interest lately. Priests of ancient times made deception a science and an art so as to convince their followers that there was life after death. They preyed on the superstitious fears of the masses with cleverly concealed apparatus in their temples to make it seem that the spirits spoke to them. In certain parts of Greece you may even still find speaking tubes, trap doors, secret passageways, syphons, trick altars, etc., by means of which they controlled the speaking idols, fire-spitting, water-projecting, and food-eating gods. These excite the admiration of the modern magician and almost cause him to turn green with envy, so clever and such good magic are these contraptions.

From the time when the Faux sisters startled the world with their spirit rappings in 1848, rogues posing as spirit mediums have mulcted millions of dollars annually from the simple minded and even from the intelligent but credulous, by using magic to prey on the most solemn and sacred emotion of the human heart, the longing to hear from a loved one beyond the grave.  Until about 1908, physical phenomena were the rage among spiritualists. In practically every large city there were hundreds of materializing, trumpet, slate writing, table tilting and rap producing mediums. Most of them prided themselves on working under “strict scientific test conditions,” being tied with ropes, handcuffed, placed in sacks, etc. Continue reading

Ill Equipped

If you have an event planning guide you give to clients, there should be a substantial section covering audio/video equipment for your client.  Whether it’s yours rented to them or from an outside source you will need to inform your client why equipment is necessary, what to get, and where. Perhaps you have been the planner at an event and had the spine chilling moment when you realized that equipment was needed that simply wasn’t there.  The audience can’t see what the presenter is holding in his hand, or worse, they can’t hear him. The amount of technical equipment required for an event will depend on the sort of people attending and the size of the event. An event production company will be able to assist you in all of this. A good place to start is usually to consider what media to utilize to depict your messages. Here are a couple ideas to get you going.

Ask these questions to your speakers/presenters: What visual media can be seen in their presentations? PowerPoint slides, video, DVD? What kind of screen needs to be used? A simple screen, a projector and lap top, or even a harder stage-set with lighting and graphics? Many of those may depend on the size of your audience. Usually the larger the guest list, the more equipment you will want. Are we dealing with front, back, or fly projection?  Is a Public Performance License needed for videos, DVD’s, or music you wish to play? Continue reading

Get Mental

Recently I’ve watched some performance mentalists and although I don’t perform this type of entertainment, I have some “Thoughts On Thought Reading or Mentalism”; that is the art of presenting seemingly paranormal effects in an entertaining manner. Its essence lies in the performer’s ability to successfully suspend the disbelief of his audience. Fortunately, there is already substantial belief among the public in psychic and other paranormal phenomena, but it is a large mistake to assume that simple public acceptance of the possibility of E.S.P. is sufficient to carry a successful performance of mentalism. Such a view has been the cause of many a bad act. And, believe me, there are plenty of bad mentalism acts around today.

So what is it that makes a mentalism act good? There are many factors, of course, but the main thing is that the performance must be entertaining. Anyone who thinks otherwise and has the nerve to perform a standup act in a theatrical selling is a fool-and probably an egotistical fool to boot. If a performer really thinks that the mechanical performance of technically flawless mental effects will cause an audience to sit in awe of his “powers” and bring him success, he is sadly mistaken.  Now, obviously, entertainment value alone does not make a mental act. But it is very difficult to be entertaining if the audience doesn’t like you and whatever it is that you’re doing. So we arrive at a very simple rule-to succeed you have got to do everything in your power to be likeable. So many mentalists that I’ve seen try to affect a threatening, superman-type image. That sort of thing may intrigue people for a while, but in the long run it puts them off-they may like to go to freak shows on occasion, but they go there to gawk, not to interact. And if a mentalist cannot get people to interact- i.e., to volunteer, to participate he doesn’t have an act. Continue reading

Be Extraordinary

Over the past year, I have covered the top event blunders that can make an event go awry.  This week we come to number 25. Mediocre entertainment is worse than bad entertainment.  At least with bad entertainment guests will have something to talk about.  Seriously, you want stellar entertainment.  Nothing but a home run will do. The truth about most events is that a year from now most people won’t remember the decorations, the food or the venue.  All of this will disappear like a phantom just weeks after the event.  The entertainment, however, will make or break just about any event.

If you bore your guests with a monotone speaker or make them sit through a bad comedian the potential of a successful event is lost. Instead, it becomes one more long, drawn out, and hard-to-sit-through ordeal. In contrast, an excellent entertainer or speaker who can engage your guests, make them laugh, and create a fun atmosphere will be remembered for years to come. Continue reading

Too Much Talking

There are so many events that I go to where it feels like there are more speakers than guests! People don’t really want to sit and listen to five or more speakers. If you overload your event like this you’re bound to leave your guests bored at best and irritated at worst.

If you’re not careful, booking something like this can become a scheduling nightmare for you. But you can avoid all this by simply determining how much time is available for presentations. Does the event take place over several days, or is it a morning session? Even if it’s a five day trade-show, you must determine how much actual presentation time there is.  Keep in mind that people also need time to eat, network, roam and smoke.  If you’re planning a one day event, the general rule is three speakers. Continue reading

It Takes Guts, Damn It!

You need to have the right attitude; not just to perform magic but to sell yourself.  Now, I know you’ve learned some great magic, even purchased some apparatus and begun performing shows.  But are you getting booked for shows?  The reason I ask is that I’ve received a few emails from you Alexandrites who have decided to start performing professionally.  I congratulate you for taking the steps necessary to get there.  But you’ve told me that you are having a hard time getting shows and making money.  I’d like to try to fix that here.

Look, there are so many magicians out there who are better than you, even better than me.  The problem is that they don’t know how to sell themselves.  They actually think that by having a website and a Facebook page they will become professional magicians.  They don’t know the one important thing, that it takes nerve, and if you don’t have the chutzpa to do some of these things, you simply won’t make it as quickly as you had hoped to.  There is nothing here against your morals or principles, but you have to have the nerve to try these things.  You don’t have to be good to start, but you have to start somewhere to be good. Continue reading

The Follow Through

Some event planners still operate from the mindset that once the event is over, that’s it.  On to the next one.  This is one of the biggest misconceptions about event planning!  The event is just the start to building relationships, and relationships are the lifeblood of any business.  Just about anybody can get a customer once.  The real value is in the second, third and fourth event they use your services for; and by not fostering these relationships you can miss out on potential sponsors or clients. Too many people walk away from networking events feeling good, but doing nothing.  You need to take some decisive actions.

You’ll come across a variety of things during the event that need to be followed up on afterwards. Doing this as soon as possible will help you tie up loose ends before moving on to a new project. Having your notes and ideas still fresh in your mind will make this process easier and more effective. Continue reading


Chances are you’re just like me..totally obsessed with magic. It’s become your passion and you work at improving your skills at every chance possible.  You seek out friends who also love magic, read books on the subject, watch magic DVD’s and practice your magic tricks like crazy.  Because of this, you will have perceptual vigilance about magic. You probably will be the first to notice magic sets on sale as you walk around a superstore. You will spot magic shows advertised on TV far more often than non-magicians.  Because of this “magic glasses” view of the world, it’s easy to assume magicians are everywhere and common place.  The truth is that most people are as blind to magicians being all around then as they are to everything else.

A friend of mine runs a wedding photography service.  It’s amazing when we compare how often her subject, “wedding photography” is searched compared to “magician for hire.”  Read some books on ventriloquism, watch some shows and read some blogs on the subject for a week or so.  You will start noticing how much more popular it has “suddenly” become.  But type in “how to do magic tricks” in YouTube and it may depress you.  You will find countless children performing close up magic tricks in their bedrooms with varying degrees of success. Continue reading


Have you ever gone grocery shopping without a list?  Did you end up with a full cart, but not a single meal?  Lists are beneficial for even the quickest shopping trips.  Similarly, even the smallest events require detailed plans, and shopping lists are no exception!

There are a surprising amount of supplies that must be obtained for small events.  Sure, many of them can be acquired from your own stash (scissors, a stapler, etc.), but others need to be purchased in advance.  On the cruise ship where I perform, Holland America, there is a Port And Shopping Guide, whose entire job it is to plan the shopping in for passengers while in the ports.  Don’t make the mistake of running out last minute assuming you’ll figure out what you need as you go.  Not only will you forget key items; you’ll also almost certainly violate the budget that you so carefully created after reading about Event Blunder #11. Continue reading