A number of blogs ago I wrote you should not have a band playing hard-driving dance music during dinner. My reasoning is fairly simple. I believe your guests need to eat in peace – and be able to converse with others sharing their table. But more importantly, I want the guests to conserve their energy for when the fundraising activity takes place.
I’m sticking to my guns here – fundamentally – although a recent experience has convinced me: “You can teach an old dog a new trick.”
Let me set the stage. During a recent fundraising event the silent auction was closing and the guests were beginning to move from the cocktail reception/silent auction area into the dining room. This transition usually takes about 15 minutes
The silent auction portion of the event went OK, but there was not a lot of energy being shown by the attendees. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d describe their energy level as a 3.0 or 3.5 at max.
The dining space was nicely decorated – but truth be told – it was larger than needed for the crowd. The band continued to play “transition music” as the guests began taking their seats. That’s when I noticed their energy level had dropped to a 1.
Luckily for me, I wasn’t the only one to notice it. That’s because that night I had the privilege to work with one of the best professionals in the business – Ms. PJ Fuerstman Meyer. PJ is a Event Production Specialist – or in other words – an outstanding event producer from P’zazz Productions. She orchestrates the entire event.
As the guests began eating their salad course, PJ approached me about the lack of energy in the room and said she had a solution to the problem. So, as I left to room to check out the results of the silent auction – PJ talked to the band in an effort to change the energy level around.
By the time I returned – just 3 short minutes later – dance music filled the room and PJ’s Pzazz Dancers were pulling attendees up on the dance floor. I couldn’t believe my eyes. At least half of the guests were boogying to the band and showing their moves on the dance floor. Fun!
It was great, but I was still concerned because I know early fast dancing can deplete guests of their energy. And they continue focusing on having fun and not fundraising. I voiced my concern to PJ.
Now, here’s where PJ really showed her professionalism and incredible talent. Sure, she got the guests on their feet after eating their salads. But, now, how do you get them off their feet and back in their seats for the main dinner course?
Well, PJ had the answer. She asked the food service company to begin serving the entrée in 5 minutes. So PJ went to the band once again and requested a danceable 4-minute song – which they played.
Now, here comes the brilliant part. As the food servers began to stream through the doors delivering entrees, the band suggested everyone take their seats began playing a slow song with a strange beat that no one could really dance to. So people began filing off the dance floor and started to eat their dinner – right on cue, and very subtle.
It was at this time PJ looked at me with a gleam in her eye and said, “See there – I can clear a dance floor in 30 seconds.” I had to chuckle a little bit and thought to myself, “It worked beautifully because it was orchestrated perfectly.”
But before me lie the question I was asking myself throughout the dancing, “Will the live auction benefit or suffer from this during-dinner service activity?” Well, I’m pleased to say it was beneficial. The energy level in the room jumped to at least an 8. Still not a 10 – but so much better than the 1 we were seeing.
So as dinner was wrapping up the live auction portion of the fundraiser began. And I’m thrilled to report the guests had sustainable energy – and that helped us meet the goal for the Live Auction and a new record for the Fund-a-Need. It was PJ that really made the difference.
So the lesson learned was this – people’s energy levels need to be monitored at all times. And it takes an experienced and professional event producer to make those types of calls. I’m convinced if PJ wasn’t there – the results of the fundraiser would have been dramatically different. That is why I highly recommend charities and organizations hire an Event Producer for their event.
Now for a quick synopsis. Can the band play before the entree – Yes. Can people dance before the entree – Yes. Can people dance through the entire dinner – No. It’s too big a waste of the energy they’ll need later.
As for the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog a new trick” – I’d have to humbly disagree. Because in this case, I’m the dog. Although I’d take exception to the “old” part.