Choosing the Right Music for your Event

By Susan Heaton Wright, company director, Viva Live Music


Selecting the right sort of live music for an event is just as vital a decision as the venue, catering style and time of day. Live music creates an ambience and memorable atmosphere if correctly chosen. So here are some top tips for ensuring you choose the right music for your event:

Type of event: If you are organising a reception with a ‘networking’ element to it, or a dinner where socialising is a key factor, loud music isn’t going to work. On the other hand, after dinner entertainment where guests want to dance will require a band playing louder music.

Venue: The size of the venue is crucial. A harpist playing in a large hall with high ceilings is likely to get lost. Likewise, a large band playing in a small room is going to be overpowering, with the sound being ‘muddied’. Choose the size of your musical ensemble and instruments based on the size of your room. Also, if you have a space with two or more rooms, you will need to consider where to locate the musicians.

Size of the event: A small event with 20 guests is unlikely to require as loud background music as a larger event, however, it is down to personal taste as to whether a large band is required later on.

Theme of the event: There are plenty of musical styles that theme an event just as much as dressing a venue or the catering on offer. A steel band or a Scottish Piper serenading guests creates an impact as people arrive. Flamenco musicians and dancers or a jazz band, for after dinner entertainment will enhance an event creating a dun and lively vibe. When you are researching a themed event, consider music as well as the food; it makes a huge difference.

Time of day: A day time event usually involves an element of networking with guests wishing to speak to and meet new people. Loud music doesn’t work in these situations. As the evening progresses, guests relax and with the formalities aside, may consider dancing. More often than not, the volume and energy of the music will increase as the evening draws on.

Acoustic of the venue: Some venues are louder than others. Rooms with plenty of fabric and wood absorb sound better than venues with hard or metal surfaces – where sound tends to echo more. The latter is more of a challenge because people’s voices will also echo.

Location: If the event is outside, you will need to consider where to place the musicians. Musicians that play valuable instruments will need to keep them out of direct sunlight and rain. Acoustic instruments such as string quartets and harps will need to be situated next to a wall, so that the sound will carry.

Volume of music and restrictions: A number of venues have restrictions on the level of volume. It is worthwhile checking this when choosing the venue as some venues allow recorded music but not live music.

Space available: If there is limited space, you will be restricted in the size of ensemble you choose. Some instruments can be relatively close to each other and take up less space than others. Calculate the area available and ask the musicians if they can perform within that area.

Instruments available: Maximise the use of resources on offer, if there is a Steinway Grand piano available at the venue, it seems a shame not to use it. Pianists could play classical/crossover music, or a jazz pianist would be thrilled to perform.

Age groups: Generally, as we get older, we appreciate loud music less and music taste will vary between different age groups. We always recommend discussing the music with the musicians and to agree a range of musical styles before the event to suit different tastes. A dance band may well offer music from the 1960s through to today’s chart hits to cover a range of musical preferences.

Live music or more specifically the right music makes a huge difference to the success of an event. Make sure you ask your music supplier the right questions. Ask yourself what role you wish the musicians to play at the event and remember to take the above points in to account.

Interview Techniques

By Jo Sweeney, account director at Troika Recruitment


Let’s face it, in Events we are a bunch of extroverts who usually love to meet people, talk about the industry and share our experience. So, with all these great personalities, it would be logical to think that the whole business of sitting down to interview would be relatively easy, almost pleasurable in fact. The truth is though interviewing well requires a whole different approach and all too often candidates can come away from a conversation with that feeling of “I know I could have done better”.

To get the conversation started on how to avoid a disappointing interview, here are some tips to get you thinking:

Be prepared. Such a basic point but you would be amazed how many people come unstuck for both very senior and more junior appointments on this very basic criteria. Research of the broader market is essential; make sure you research the competition as well. Know some key facts about the person you are meeting, their background and career pathway. Research should not be limited to the company’s own website, there is endless information of course on the web but don’t underestimate the information that exists within your own network also. Talk to your clients, have they aware of the business you are hoping to secure employment with and what were their impressions?

Don’t oversell. This one is less obvious and there is a fine line to tread of course between letting someone know how great you are and sharing too much detail. In initial interviews, clients will look for detail to back up your achievements, for example the level of turnover you have been responsible for. But, don’t feel you have to give away the whole of your knowledge at this stage. Interviewers will appreciate a level of professional discretion from you, if you were to join them this would be a quality they would expect to see from you toward their own business.

Be quantifiable. If you are asked to talk about an area of your achievement then you will need to have some strong examples to back this up. Here you can highlight the headlines, what the business was worth, how you won it or how you delivered a fantastic event in a challenging situation. Make sure you can illustrate points and actions that were directly within your personal control, avoid the “we did this” or “the team and I “ type of responses and try to focus on what you personally did. This will illustrate what you have to offer in such a way that the interviewer gets a strong sense of what you can deliver.



Thinking Outside the Box for Team Building Events

By the events team at The Royal Institution of Great Britain

Everyone functions in groups, however what makes a group of people a team and furthermore, what makes a team good or bad, successful or unsuccessful? More importantly what can be done to create a better ‘team’ within an organisation?

Have you ever seen the dread in employees faces when they are presented with the latest team building scenario that they will be coerced into ‘throwing themselves into’ with the aim of improving performance through greater and more effective team work at the same time as providing a fun experience? It is very likely that there will be plenty of looks of horror cascading around the office as colleagues picture the ‘trust falls’ and ‘group chanting’ in a secluded field somewhere.

Of course, this might be slightly exaggerated; however, there are a large number of employees that are subjected each year to company team building events which include various pursuits and role-play scenarios. The advantages to an organisation of a team that works well together are clear; greater efficiency, skill specialisation, creativity and reduced staff turnover. Therefore, it is not a surprise that companies invest in team building activities. In fact, so many companies do it that it has developed into a multi-million pound industry catering for everything from a day out at the races to paint balling and gourmet cookery classes. But to what extent do team building events, as we understand them, actually result in the desired objectives?

With a growing number of team building specialist agencies now in operation many are entering their busiest time yet. However there is a shift to more objective focused and thought out events rather than just pure fun or cringeworthyness. Following on from media ridiculing as the Department for Business, Innovation and skills invested £4,700 on a ‘chocolate treat’ team building activity for 40 staff, it seems the pressure is really on for companies to measure the outcomes of team events more closely to prove their benefits.

Carrie from Bluebrick Consulting, who specialise in management consulting, explains how it’s not just the activity that shapes the team building session but more importantly the environment in which it takes place.

‘Being in an historic building is both inspiring and thought provoking for delegates and creates a perfect frame of mind for people when they are in “learning mode.” In the Royal Institution for example there are lots of interesting spaces for delegates to work in when in break-out activities which enable delegates to think differently, something that can be challenging when working in a more conventional conference venue.’

Taking employees out of the office and into a new and positive environment is of crucial importance to a successful team building session. An element of fun or excitement is also important. Individuals will stay focused and learn more if they are engaged in a positive activity. This is why organisations favour a challenge-based session or a life-size table football match over plonking their employees in front of a presentation on ‘How to be a better team player’ in a conference theatre.

In the midst of all this supposed fun and complimentary drink, lie some extensively researched theories mostly within the social psychological field. Social Identity Theory as developed by Tajfel and Turner (1979), states that the individual has not one but rather several selves or perceived identities that correspond to the various groups they belong or feel they belong to. Different social contexts may trigger an individual to feel, think and act on the basis of his personal, relational or national ‘sense of self’. There are many different schools of thought on how and why groups can influence the individual and to what effect, but one thing seems to be clear, is that team building is the process of creating a collaborative enterprise that can perform or effect change.

So as long as thought is given to the team involved, the desired outcome and the implementation a team building event doesn’t need to be dreaded by employees or a fruitless cost to employers. The benefits can be dramatic if the activity is carefully planned and executed.