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Conference Gala Dinners

Producing Conference Gala Dinners

Conference gala dinners are mostly remembered either for the right or wrong reasons, or unfortunately not remembered at all. A conference gala dinner can be a great experience you wished had lasted longer or an evening when you’d rather have either stayed in your hotel to catch up on sleep or had an amazing night out with your new best conference buddies. When creating and producing a conference gala dinner there are a few simple golden rules you should follow.

Scheduling the conference gala dinner

Imagine being the poor speaker up first early in the morning following the conference gala dinner, chances are you sacrificed a great night by coming home early or you’re speaking to a vacant conference room.

Scheduling the conference gala dinner on the final night is always ideal – delegates are ready to wind-down, relax and enjoy themselves. You won’t be sacrificing any sessions to the night after syndrome, and if done well, is likely to be remembered as the highlight of the program. If you cant have the conference gala dinner on the last night then finish early!

Planning the conference gala dinner program

Try and avoid making the closing ceremony too exciting or extravagant, instead save the impact for the conference gala dinner but keep the formalities to a minimum. Your delegates will by now be tired of sitting, listening and concentrating, so make the night a show.

Consider starting or finishing the night with a highlights video of the last few days, full of delegate faces and fun moments. This can simply be done with a montage of stills set to music. Then post the video to the website so delegates can download it and share it with their colleagues long after the event.

If the night includes an award presentation be sure to keep it fast paced and as exciting as possible. Remember that only a small percentage of the audience will be directly involved and even fewer winners. Consider adding some fun and create a few lighthearted awards that prize the most memorable delegates, speakers or sponsors, that’ll likely attract everyone’s interest and keep your guests engaged.

Entertainment at the conference gala dinner

As with all events and live experiences don’t loose sight of your guests – its their night not yours.  Firstly take care when selecting the MC or host – if you want to keep your guests engaged then get someone who is entertaining and professional. An inexperienced MC with little personality will ‘loose’ the audience in the first 5 minutes and will struggle for the rest of the night. You don’t necessarily need a well known personality or celebrity, its not about who they are its all about how well they perform on the night. Save the bucks for a big name and invest your budget in high quality performances.

Make sure the entertainment appeals to a wide cross section of guests and try and include some local ‘flavour’. But don’t, please don’t provide cultural entertainment from another country – how would you feel if when overseas you were presented with a troupe of roaming performers dressed in kangaroo suits singing Waltzing Matilda!

Include a number of highs and lows during the night. Audience attention spans are best between 10 and 20 minutes so keep the acts short and spread them over the whole night. Create an impactful opening moment and try and include some entertainment between each meal course. If you do have formalities, get them over early or break them into short grabs, interspersed with entertainment.

Be culturally aware and always remember that one person’s comic is another’s clown, and another’s magician – when it comes to comedy and magic people have widely different tastes. So know what you’re getting and make sure they are world class, enough said!

And finally, whatever entertainment you choose, be it an MC, a dance band, a stage show or roaming entertainers, do your research, if possible ‘try before you buy’, and don’t just rely on word of mouth.  And of course make sure you always book your acts through Instinct Events and Entertainment!