Never schedule a meal during the entertainment, speeches, or an interactive activities.
Why not? Simple: the food distracts from the show, and the show distracts from the food. This may seem obvious, but isn’t always.
I should point out though, some forms of entertainment are MEANT to be performed while a meal is taking place. Two that come to mind are ambient musicians & comedy waiters (yes, they hilariously deliver your food). These types of performers are not the ones I am referring to. I am referring to magicians, comedians, bands, or any showman that require our full attention.
The two most common reasons I find people try to plan entertainment during an event is either:
- They didn’t think that there would be a conflict of attention.
- They are trying to save time.
Eating a meal is a social experience embedded in our DNA. We evolved to focus on our food, and (sometimes) the people around us in a social way. Meaning, if you have entertainment during a meal, people will be more focused on actually eating and socializing, rather than absorbing entertainment. If you are providing a high end meal, that’s the perfect way for people to miss the complex flavors. This also does a disservice to the performer. Their job is to connect with the audience and bring them into their world. If their audience is eating, they don’t make the connection. Thus, your entertainment dollars will be wasted.
This may sound harsh, but if you are trying to save time in your schedule by cramming activities together, you might not be planning your event’s agenda very well. Sometimes having 2 or 3 activities spaced out appropriately will make for a better event than 6 or 7 activities bunched together. If you find yourself trying to cram a lot of things into a schedule, be more strategic, or ask a friend for a fresh perspective. The success of your event hangs over your head, not communicating a problem ahead of time will cause it to come crashing down.
Sometimes your schedule during the event will get thrown off due to timing errors, such as the wait staff taking to long, or another speaker running long. Don’t panic! I have a solution for you. Simply put, it may be better to have an act cut their time a bit shorter rather than trying to have them fulfill their whole time slot. An entertainment act can usually do this, but keep the communication lines open so no one is caught off guard at the last second.
Almost all comedic & interactive entertainers require us to give our full attention. They will do their job at their best, and we can make a full connection as an attentive audience. And, you’ll enjoy your meal all the better.