Do you know that one of the best things you can do at a corporate event is make a live show belong to the audience?
A quick overview of what I am going to talk about in this article. Why it’s important? How much customization do you need? How to do it? And the effect it has had on my career.
When you think about customizing an event you’re talking about taking it out of the generic show that you do for anyone no matter who they are, and putting stuff into the show that actually belongs to that audience.
Why it’s important? Well doing something like this builds a lot of rapport. Instantly the audience gets out of their auto pilot mode and realizes that they are going to see something a little bit different – something that they understand and is connected to their corporate culture. It engages the audience like nothing else.
Coming out to start your show with some sort of comment, some sort of joke, or something that shows that you know who these people are, what they do on a daily basis, and what makes them tick connects you to that group so fast. It is a shame to throw something like that away. These people share a huge common denominator and to show that you can step into it and put your particular spin on it is incredibly powerful.
How much do you need? Well in an hour show my partner and I do about fourteen references. More isn’t necessarily better. You want to have a lot of good stuff so go ahead and write a lot, and just grab the gems. Grab the things that experience shows you are going to work, and that are going to get laughs.
If you sing could you work them into a song? If you do magic could you produce one of their widgets? That’s the kind of stuff that shows you went the extra mile for this company. It’s really great for comedians. It’s fertile ground, so explore it.
How do you do it? How do you gather up customized material? One of the best ways is to have a template. If you’re a singer use a song. If you’re a magician use something in a magic trick. If you’re a ventriloquist have the figure say stuff about the company that you would never say. A template is a really good piece to use. My partner and I use this extensively in our shows.
How do we get that template filled out? We submit a questionnaire to them. It is a twelve question questionnaire, and the answers to those questions pop right into the template. It’s not quite a turnkey solution, but it’s pretty close. It gives you just about everything you will need for customizing jokes, songs, magic tricks, or whatever it is you want to do with the information you get.
Also one of the most powerful tools for customizing is searching the website of the company. Getting on there and finding out what they make. Do they have any unusual names for their products? Do they have offices in weird places? Do they have a website that’s really hard to understand and everyone knows that? Those are perfect topics to use in customization.
You can talk with the people at the event. Get in there with the meeting planner and your contact at the event that belongs to the company and ask them what happened. Be current. Like what happened today? What happened last night at the meeting? Did anything happen that was unexpected? Was there a big laugh from the crowd? Did something break? Did some loud noise go off? Did somebody streak across the stage?
Whatever it is… all the stuff you can use to show that you’re in tune with that event and what’s happening there. Be careful of slamming competitors. There is a way to do it tastefully, but also you run the risk of making some people angry. So find a way that works for you. If you use slides in a show, show yourself using their stuff. How great is a picture of you using a chainsaw or another picture of you trying to use a competitor’s products? If it’s a chainsaw use a slide with a lot of fake blood on your arm or whatever. Just show that you are in tune with what they make, and you can make fun of the competitor’s stuff that way.
What kind of effects has this had on my career? Over the years it has given producers faith that they can absolutely toss anything they want to us. We’re going to have fun with it. We are going to include it in the show. We’re going to make it a really a memorable piece of the program we provide. More importantly, it puts all but a guaranteed standing ovation spell over your audience. People hear enough of their stuff mentioned and your funny enough with their stuff, their culture, and getting inside their minds and becoming apart of their world they are going to be on their feet for you at the end. That makes the client extremely happy which, of course, makes the producer happy. This makes the producer want to book you again.
Also using their information and their stuff in your show keeps people talking about the show long after it’s over, and that’s free advertising. That’s keeping the buzz of you in their culture.
Work on customizing your program and I will see you on the road.