Celebrities take Virtual Events to Next Level without Excessive Price Tag  

Have you always wanted to hire a celebrity to speak at a meeting or event but it was out of your financial reach?

That’s likely not the case anymore. The rise of virtual events has made celebrity talent more accessible and affordable than ever.

In the past, booking a celebrity was expensive and didn’t necessarily result in a positive return on investment. Costs associated with high-end talent included artist and agency fees, entourage travel, hotel rooms and catering. Then there were additional expenses associated with providing quality sound, lights, staging, labour and other items specified in the talent’s contract rider. On top of this, it was difficult to confirm availability because of tours, films, television shows or other obligations. When you did, the contract likely included a cancellation clause that enabled the celebrity to back out of the event without advance notice.

With the COVID-19 pandemic (and for the foreseeable future), deterrents to hiring top talent have gone away. Celebrities and their representatives are willing to entertain almost any reasonable offer now.

But before you set aside money to book a star, it’s important to know how to harness their unique skill set in order to present them in the most engaging way possible. Remember, what worked for a live event won’t necessarily translate online. This is where a reputable production company that has experience working with celebrity talent in the digital realm can help.

A successful virtual celebrity performance must be compelling and surprising. It should take advantage of the intimacy that the virtual medium provides. Attention should also be given to making the performance as customizable as possible.

Here are five ways you can successfully incorporate celebrity talent into your next virtual event.

  1. Have the celebrity make emcee-style introductions for your educational speakers or surprise entrances and exits to keep viewers engaged throughout the event’s programming.
  2. Engage your star during virtual breaks in one-on-one conversations with participants around a fun subject like sports, cooking, pets or favourite vacation spot. Stay away from controversial topics, negative news and politics.
  3. Allow participants to submit questions to the celebrity with the goal of including the maximum number of short interactions. Have the moderator pre-select questions to assure a diverse group of ethnicities, accents, regions and perspectives on a topic, and allow the person asking the question to share the screen with your star.
  4. Engage the celebrity in a ‘fireside chat’ led by the moderator that includes your company’s executives and features customized content.
  5. Gain insight from an expert celebrity speaker on a topic like leadership, teamwork or overcoming adversity via an intimate discussion that allows your star to provide an outside consultative opinion that’s customized to your organization.

It’s ideal to pre-record all talent segments to allow for the best possible production in terms of sound, lighting and overall presentation. One-on-one chat sessions can be improvised and live streamed during the event.

Consider hiring a small, flexible and socially distanced film crew to capture footage with your celebrity and showcase them in the best possible light while staying consistent with your meeting theme and messaging.

Interacting with a celebrity can be a once in a lifetime encounter for event attendees. Now is the time to maximize this opportunity while controlling the deliverables. In doing so, you’ll create a truly engaging virtual event and an unforgettable experience that attendees will be talking about for years to come.

Nancy Hays is president of Nancy Hays Entertainment and Speakers Inc., Virtual Celebrity Talent and Dance with Nancy. She specializes in producing celebrity talent and speakers for meetings and events, and dance programs for virtual participants. Nancy also works through Nancy Hays Speaks as a virtual moderator, professional dance instructor and musical entertainer. She can be reached at [email protected].


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