This month, I had the honor of writing for the National Speakers Association‘s publication, Speaker Magazine. I interviewed corporate entertainment producer Chris Condie, of Condie Entertainment, in this month’s edition of “Welcome To My World: A Snapshot Into the Lives of People Who Hire Us.”
Jeff Civillico (JC): How did you get involved in corporate event production?
Chris Condie (CC): I spent 15 years on the client side of corporate events, working in marketing for Fortune 500 and small entrepreneurial companies. At the same time, I was performing as a professional musician for over 10 years. I saw events from both the client and talent perspective. I wondered why someone wasn’t taking care of the issues that repeatedly came up as a result of this perspective gap. Eventually I realized I could solve those problems since I spoke the language of both the client and the talent.
JC: Can you elaborate on that phrase “speak the language of both the client and the talent?”
CC: Well for example, on the talent side, let’s use the example of a tech rider. With my background, I understand what exactly an act is looking for when they ask for specific points in that rider. I often know what will meet the act’s needs for less cost. So I’m able to modify the tech rider to stay on budget for the client, while still giving the talent what they need. On the other side, I know what my clients are looking for. I understand the pressure to deliver a top-notch event that will top last year’s because I’ve been in their shoes. I can often help talent modify what they do to provide a customized experience that will make them look like superstars to the client… without the talent having to alter much of their program. Promo materials are just like performances—keep the audience wanting more.
JC: What’s the #1 thing you look for in promotional materials?
CC: Video is everything—a compelling, short and sweet, agent-friendly, electronically-delivered video. I’ve found speakers and entertainers often want to show 10-15 minutes of video to tell their whole story. If we aren’t enthralled 30-seconds into a promo video, we’ll move on. If a client or producer is interested, we’ll dig to learn more about you. We’ll even fly out to see you. But we won’t watch 15 minutes of lack-luster video.
JC: How has the current economic climate changed what types of speakers / entertainers are getting booked today?
CC: Speakers and entertainers play an enormous role in helping the client achieve what they want to accomplish with the event. You need to understand that. I believe many speakers and entertainers today are too eager to lower their price. You are worth what your worth—hold your ground. Instead of reducing your price, focus instead on adding more value to your program. Some of my clients have actually increased their budgets for speakers and entertainers in an attempt to book bigger names, so they can draw more attendees to the event. They know budgets are tight at home, so they need to increase the size of the carrot to get people to attend. They now often cut back in other areas like media placement, dessert options, etc.
JC: Any horror stories?
CC: I booked a big name country singer to perform at a beautiful hall that was home to the city’s symphony. Just before we dimmed the lights, her tour manager said that he needed to set her glass of water on stage. I informed him that we would take care of it, and provide a table or stool for the glass of water. He was adamant that he needed to set it, because he knew just where to place it. He walked on stage and set the glass down on the symphony’s $250,000 grand piano! Of course, the headsets instantly blew up with chatter. The symphony house manager ran out and removed the glass right as the band took the stage. The tour manager proceeded to blow up at the entire tech crew backstage, making a scene. I don’t remember how the singer performed. I only remember the incident, and I won’t work with that act again because of it. That’s the way it works.
JC: How important is how a speaker / entertainer conducts him or herself off stage at your events?
CC: To me that is paramount. Anyone who doesn’t understand that we all (producers, speakers, vendors) start “working” the moment we arrive on-site, and not simply when the mic is on, is missing the big picture. This is a relationship business. If you’re not conducting yourself appropriately off-stage, you’re not building a relationship. Lastly, as a producer, I want to produce shows, not babysit. The easier you make my job, the more professional and personal you are, the more you focus on satisfying the client at every turn, the more work you will get from me, and the more my clients will refer you to their friends at other companies.
A natural-born problem solver, Chris Condie started Condie Entertainment to provide entertainment solutions in the corporate event world. With a degree in marketing from the University of Utah and nearly two decades of production experience on both the client and talent side, Condie provides corporate clients a unique set of skills which ensures their events are engaging, strategically-focused, and stress-free, while saving them valuable time and money.
As an entertainer, Jeff Civillico – “Comedy in Action” – provides stage entertainment and MC services for corporations nationwide. As a speaker, Jeff delivers his keynote – “Branding Your Passion” – to illuminate the unparalleled access and professional opportunity that exist today. By using his career as an entertainer and employing his signature interactive physical comedy routines, Jeff illustrates exactly why and how to pursue your life’s passion.