Great events are all about creating ambience. But how do you achive that?
We ask three experts how they create and lift the mood of an event using music, lighting, entertainment and any special techniques.

TRACEY WOOD
Director, Funktionality Events & Experiences

Tracy has made it her mission to inject colour, beauty and originality into Australia’s corporate events after her own experiences left her unenthused. Since launching in 2000 to work on the Sydney Olympic Games, Funktionalty has carved a niche for really understanding just how the right styling, themeing and interesting decor features can enhance the ambiance and success of an event.
1. Make them see – Use bright colours in your lighting design. Vivid colours or interestingly lit rooms are shown to stimulate the brain to create a natural buzz, elevating a crowd’s collective mood on a subconscious level before the event is even in full swing. However, be careful where you use these colours as no one likes eating a green steak, and no one looks good with a purple face.

2. Relax them with food – For thousands of years social occasions have centered around food. Food stations encourage people to congregate around one safe place where they feel relaxed. The act of sharing food can be quite an uplifting social experience because it is an interactive process which doesn’t just satisfy hungry stomachs, but gives guests a physical and conversational prop to relax themselves into an event.

3. Make them hear – Vary the sounds of the event. Changing the dynamics or style of the music in different physical spaces of one event can give each section its own unique atmospheric tone. People will be naturally drawn to the space they feel most content being a part of, whether it be the pumping dance floor or a chatty corner. Happy, uninhibited party-goers contribute to an overall elated mood.

4. Make them talk – Whether it is a spectacular feature installation or an unexpected interaction with a roving entertainment performer, giving guests a focal point on arrival easily creates a topic of conversation to strike up small talk about, especially between guests who might not be so familiar with each other. Getting guests to interact with each other in a comfortable manner is a key to creating a vibrant and amicable event atmosphere.

5. Keep them guessing, keep them engaged – The energy of an event is constantly shifting. To keep spirits high and engaged it is best to intersperse formalities with pockets of entertainment such as unexpected shifts in lighting or music, or even revealing new areas and experiences during the event. Making the familiar strange once more is a great device to keep your audiences alert. By creating this unpredictable journey through your event, you will minimize the amount of guests heading for the door as soon as formalities end. Create an experience that make those there want to stay and those who didn’t come wishing they did!

JANINE PINTO
Business development director, meetings and events, InterContinental Sydney

In the past 13 years Janine has been the driving force behind InterContinental Sydney’s meetings and events business, securing a range of major events for the hotel. She played a crucial role in securing and participating in many major Sydney events at the hotel, including the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the Millennium 2000 New Year’s Eve celebrations, and the hosting of the crew, audience, and Oprah Winfrey herself during Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure.

1. Keep it natural – Spaces flushed with natural light are far more conducive to positive and inspiring meetings and events. This is certainly true during daylight hours, but shouldn’t be underestimated at night either – particularly if you have a view at your disposal. In this case, subtle lighting that accentuates the nighttime views without distracting from them can make all the difference when setting the mood for an event.

2. Put your best foot forward – Carefully consider the physical elements of the space and theming that best defines the style of your event, and use lighting to draw your guest’s eyes to those elements. For example, room and window draping can be lent fresh depth and colour through the use of soft up- and down-lighting. It doesn’t need to be much; setting up the right lights in the right places can grace an otherwise blank space with personality and mood.

3. Live adds life – Live music will elevate an event in a way recorded music rarely can. The choice of performers and style of music will instantly set a tone and mood, adding impact to your visual theming and lighting elements and making the event more memorable.

4. Use performance to deliver a theme – One way to keep events fresh and exciting is to move the guests from space to space, and entertainment provides the perfect opportunity to do so. A well-chosen progressive performance piece that invites guests on both a physical and thematic journey can add significant impact, as well as keeping your guests mingling and the event fresh and exciting.

5. Make food the entertainment – Some of the most impacting “performances” we’ve organised events for centre around the food, especially as it relates to authentically local experiences. Our Insider Meetings collection, for example, makes it easy for event organisers to bring Yum Cha from Chinatown, oyster shucking from the Pyrmont Fish Markets and pies from Harry’s Café de Wheels to meetings and events they hold at our hotel.

DALE BURRIDGE
Managing Director, SMA entertainment by Design

SMA is now in its 10th year and is renowned for its ability at creating and delivering a wow factor. It has a proven track record in creating world-class, high-impact feature shows tailored to the corporate and concert arenas. Following the massive success of The Rat Pack’s Back in both Australia and the United Kingdom, SMA Productions now boasts five feature acts including Opera by Disguise, String Diva, OOH James & Boys in the Band.

1. Listen – Listen to what your client wants. What’s their budget, what’s the demographic of their audience, who are they, where do they come from, what’s worked before and what hasn’t worked and why?

2. Client’s vision – Understand your client’s entertainment vision for their event. What atmosphere do they want to achieve? What’s their wish list? Inspire and complement their vision with your expertise and ideas. Understand the entire flow of the event not just your component.

3. Attention to detail – Attention to detail separates you from your competition. No matter the size of the event or budget, make your client feel they are special, their event is special, and that they’re in good hands. Tailor the entertainment specifically for your client’s event. Ensure that the production team have all the right entertainment production specifications, that all staging, lighting and sound being supplied is correct. Attend site inspections and make sure you are all on the same page.

4. Think outside the box – Brainstorm with your team and workshop ideas that can be specifically tailored for your client’s event. You may use specific formulas that you know work, but always keep evolving those formulas by challenging yourself. They won’t go home humming the table settings!

5. Follow up – Always follow up post the event, learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. What can you create for next year’s event and continue to develop your relationship with your client.