How To Make Your Special Event Completely Flop

Written by Tim Grable

March 16, 2017

As an agent and manager for over 30 years, I have seen many special events succeed and fail. Some have been so terrible, you’d think the event planners were trying to make their event a disaster.

How To Make Your Special Event Completely Flop

3 ways to guarantee your special event will flop

1.  Secure a Bad Setting and Poor Technology

Through some thirty years of performing, I’ve worked in a wide variety of terrible settings.  Some of the worst were gymnasiums.  I remember one particular time speaking from center court surrounded by several thousand unruly high schoolers.  I’m not suggesting I only encountered this setting once but this time is memorable because the principal was unable to get enough attention to introduce me.  After several minutes  ineffectively screaming into a distorting mic he finally looked at me and shrugged as if to say, “May your God protect you.” I then walked to the center of the arena where I was tied to a 6 ft. microphone cord connected to a podium containing four tiny speakers.  I should mention that the podium/speaker was made by Sears and Roebuck.  Notice that Roebuck is still in the name so we’re talking early sixties at the latest. Low tech at best.

I actually nearly salvaged this special event.  Honestly. But a little more than most of the time, given this situation, I failed.  Which was a shame because with a little good event planning it could have been different.

2.   Keep the performer as a Hidden surprise!

Several years ago I put together a contract rider spelling out some ways that a sponsor can help me to help their event succeed.  I adopted the K.I.S.S. principle, a simple acrostic for KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.  And it is, after all, pretty simple.  All I require is that people are able to see and hear me. That’s it.

To be seen means that most often I need some form of elevation.  In addition, to insure that my facial expressions are visible, I may need simple direct lighting such as a spotlight or some floods pointed in my general direction.  To be heard I need an appropriate sound system for the setting. I’ve often been impressed with the effort made to meet my simple requirements.

I was hired to perform at an outdoor celebration for a new church ground  breaking.  Since the church did not yet exist they had no platform staging but one man had a creative idea.  He owned an asphalt company and said he could create perhaps the  sturdiest stage I’d ever stood upon.  The day before the special event he dumped a couple hundred tons of steaming black asphalt and piled it 8 ft. high before flattening the top with a backhoe and steamroller.  When he finished I had a 10 X 12  ft. platform standing 4 ft. high.  Unfortunately even the next day it was still hot enough to melt my sneakers. Small birds landing on the surface became disoriented by the fumes. They staggered around a bit before falling on their sides and bursting into flames. We tried to cover the surface with plywood and an old carpet but even so I lost sixteen lbs. in a forty-five minute performance.  Worse yet, my instrument cord melted which shorted out a volume control and started a fire inside my guitar. Still I was impressed with the effort.

3.  Send 10,000 invitations and only count on 4 people coming

My rider has worked pretty well though apparently the K.I.S.S. acrostic has sometimes been misinterpreted to mean KEEP IT STUPID STUPID.  In this regard one man comes to mind.  I’ll refer to him as Mr. I Bet I Can Ruin Your Show.  He’s the man who thought a wireless mic meant a portable blow horn with a shoulder strap.  Think Viet Nam war protests and your conjuring the correct image.  His banquet was being held in a large room normally reserved for auctioning hogs. But the problem was not smell. The problem was size. The room’s dimensions seemed just a little smaller than those of my hometown though the ceiling may have been a bit higher.  I thought I could see stars.  The lighting was provided by a strip of neon lights somewhere up in the clouds.  I think the bulbs were Sylvanias.  I’m pretty sure the clouds were cumulus.

Fortunately I didn‘t require elevation as the enormous hall was set for only six tables of ten people each. Unfortunately, the back half of each table was still unable to see me for the massive balloon centerpieces blocking their view.  If they’d connected a lawn chair to any of them they might have floated away. Which, in this setting, was just about what I felt like doing.

Are you feeling overwhelmed planning your next special event?  Need some help making sure it is a successful event?  I invite you to contact the Grable Group at (615) 283-0039 or where you will receive experienced and practical information from finding the right performer to so tips to market your event so that together we can make your event a success

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