Search

As featured on Corporate Meetings Network: Link to article



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.




About the author: Nancy Hays is the president of Nancy Hays Entertainment & Speakers, Inc., VirtualCelebrityTalent.com and DanceWithNancy.com. Nancy specializes in producing celebrity talent and speakers for meetings and events and dance programs for virtual participants. In addition, Nancy works through NancyHaysSpeaks.com as a virtual moderator, professional dance instructor and musical entertainer. Nancy's products and services have received critical acclaim in major publications including LA Times, Washington Post, Variety and others, and she has made appearances on major network news and talk shows. Reach out to her at nancyhaysentertainment@gmail.com

  • Nancy Hays

As featured on 6 Feet Apart: Link to article


Dreading your next zoom call whether it’s with co-workers or even family and friends? Here are some expert tips for breaking the awkward silence and having things run more smoothly, all while of course, looking your best.



Is it just me, or does it seem like every event under the sun is pivoting to virtual right now? With most of us have been spending the majority of our time at home since the shut down in March, did you know that Zoom Fatigue is actually a “thing”?


To combat waning attention spans and keep people engaged, it’s important to consider how to best present yourself on camera and how to build maximum engagement into your virtual conversations with friends, family and colleagues.


Just as you would want to look your best when going out of the house, you should view virtual meetings the same way and let others know you are practicing self-care even if things are really tough right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business talk, a virtual date or just a family chat.


Tips and Tricks To Help You Look and Sound Your Best on Camera



  • Framing

Make sure you position yourself so those you are zooming with can see the upper 1/3 of your body. Framing from the shoulders up at eye level with your body centered is most visually appealing.

  • Lighting

Consider an area that has consistent abundant light (unlike light coming from a window which can change and force you to have to move midway through your zoom). Take the time to properly light yourself with two light sources, one for your face and one to diffuse shadows, to make yourself stand-out.

  • Audio

The next time you host a meeting, make sure to silence all audio channels that you don’t want to hear from. Attendees will still have the ability to chime in when they want by utilizing zoom’s hand raising feature. You will be prompted to unmute them so they can be heard and can mute them again once they’re finished.



Once you have done everything on your end of the stream to present yourself well, it’s time to think ahead about how to lead others in positive virtual interactions. Consider taking an inventory of your social groups’ unique skill sets: hobbies, musical talents, book interests, favorite vacation spots, sports interest background, alma maters, decorating choices, dating styles and more. Then put together a list of ideas to share with them. For starters, consider the relatives you know that are stuck inside alone or unable to go out at all. This includes Grandparents and elderly friends you know that are desperately in need of companionship and fun. For all of your relationships, come up with a game plan.


Simple Suggestions For A Successful Zoom


Strategies for Virtual Visits with Grandparents


The next time your child gets on Facetime or Zoom with grandma or grandpa, prep them in advance to talk about memories that will recall happy thoughts around subjects of mutual interest across generations. There is a book called Grandmother or Grandfather Remembers that I strongly recommend because it is filled with pages of fun questions for the grandparent to respond to in full sentences. You could easily come up with your own questions for free, but filling out a book like this is a priceless treasure for you, your child or grandchild to cherish forever as a keepsake. It sparks memories and helps ignite conversation about meaningful topics. It includes questions like, “Grandma, did you have a favorite pet as a kid?” “Grandma, what was your first date with grandpa?”


Zoom parties and Happy Hours with Family and Friends


Before your next Zoom call, prompt everyone that will be participating to start off with a short positive message about something professional or personal that is good news happening in their life right now. It’s amazing how that quick burst of positivity and gratitude at the beginning of a call can change the entire course of the conversation.


Recommend that your guests bring to the call

  1. A favorite motivational quote, poem or book suggestion.

  2. High school or college specific clothes or branded clothing from their favorite sports team. Discuss one of their favorite recallable memories that shirt or clothing brings to mind.

  3. Recipes and sources: family, cookbook, internet, etc.

  4. Favorite music: albums or artists that influenced them most.

  5. Favorite movies, actors or comedians. Share funny or powerful clips.

  6. A list of favorite pet names and memories.

  7. A vivid childhood friend’s mutual memory.

  8. A favorite object or possession in your home to “show and tell” about.

  9. Current sports team trivia

  10. Name of their favorite professor or teacher and why

  11. A home video past or present that everyone will enjoy seeing.

  12. A honeymoon memory, location or romantic occasion.

  13. Baby, prom, senior year, Homecoming or reunion photos.

  14. Performance photos from a play, show, concert, recital, gymnastics or dance performance.

  15. Kids sports photos. “Here’s dad playing Little League.”

  16. List of anyone in the family that has a military connection and description of what their training was like. Honor that person’s service.

  17. Travel logs, favorite family trips over the years or reunions with friends, etc. (bring pictures) or discuss “bucket list” future vacations complete with photos.


Ideas For Pre-planned Virtual Activities



  • Dancing tutorials and participation

“We’ll be learning and practicing a virtual line dance together in the backyard at 6 pm.”

  • Crafts

Creative mask making, painting, potted plant decorating, etc.

  • Charity fun

Tell everyone to go around their house and collect an item they can donate to charity (canned goods, or other items). Do a show and tell of those items and arrange a time and date to retrieve them or drop them off together. Or work on making hygiene kits for healthcare workers or virtual school kits for students, etc.

  • Book Report

Have each person share an old fashion book report on an interesting relative or historical person. Who was the most interesting person in your family tree?

  • Video

Create a fun video montage with little snippets from a variety of relatives around a specific subject. “Here’s grandpa’s advice about building a fence.” “Here’s three words of advice on how to succeed in college.”

  • Share memorabilia or art around your house

“See this oil painting? I bought it from a little street vendor outside Notre Dame in Paris.”

  • Take up an instrument

Share your “home school” rehearsal improvement with others every week to stay motivated. Consider complimentary instruments so that you can form a band and screen share musical numbers eventually when the time is right.



Lastly, but perhaps most importantly when talking to close friends and family that you trust, think about taking the time to nurture spiritual health. This does not mean “preaching” or sharing different religious beliefs over Zoom which can lead to arguments and misunderstandings. But with a world pandemic raging, you will be amazed at how healing and comforting it is to know others are thinking of you and praying for your general well- being. As you end your discussion with loved ones in particular, consider bringing up prayers you want to share. If you are uncomfortable sharing them out loud, say things like “These are items on my prayer list this week.” “I am praying that your flight arrives safely in North Carolina.”


I hope these ideas help inspire and motivate you as we head into fall and winter months that will present their own new set of challenges. And when those challenges do arrive, you will be prepared, having built stronger relationships within your social network though healthy discussions and activities, so you will be ready to tackle whatever comes next!


Stay safe and be well!



About the author: Nancy Hays is the president of Nancy Hays Entertainment & Speakers, Inc., VirtualCelebrityTalent.com and DanceWithNancy.com. Nancy specializes in producing celebrity talent and speakers for meetings and events and dance programs for virtual participants. In addition, Nancy works through NancyHaysSpeaks.com as a virtual moderator, professional dance instructor and musical entertainer. Nancy's products and services have received critical acclaim in major publications including LA Times, Washington Post, Variety and others, and she has made appearances on major network news and talk shows. Reach out to her at nancyhaysentertainment@gmail.com

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

As Published for Meeting Planners International: Link to Blog



Have you always wanted to hire a celebrity to speak at your meeting or event but thought it was way out of your price range? Think again! The rise of virtual events has presented a unique opportunity for event planners that they may never be able to take advantage of again (or at least, until the next pandemic)—the affordability of celebrity talent.


In the past, booking a celebrity was expensive and didn’t necessarily result in positive ROI. Budgeting for high-end talent not only included artist and agency fees, but also entourage travel expenses, hotel rooms and catering, along with the additional expenses necessary to provide quality sound, lights, staging, labor and other elements specified in the artist’s contract rider. It was also difficult to confirm availability because of tours, films, TV shows or other obligations. And God forbid you plan for all the above and lock in the perfect talent, only to find out that their cancellation clause enables them to back out of your event without advance notice.


A successful virtual celebrity performance must take advantage of the intimacy that the virtual medium provides.

In other words, everything that was a deterrent has gone away, so why not take advantage of it?


If you have experienced all of the above challenges in booking celebrities in the past, virtual events have presented you with a golden opportunity. During the COVID-19 pandemic and for the foreseeable future, celebrities and their representatives are willing to entertain almost any reasonable offer. As a result, never before has this level of talent been more accessible or affordable than it is now.


But before you decide to set aside money in your virtual event budget to book a star, it’s important to carefully consider how to harness their unique skill set in order to present them in the most engaging way possible. Remember, what worked in the past for a live concert or keynote won’t necessarily work online.


This is where enlisting the help of a reputable production company that has experience working with celebrity talent in the virtual space will be key to your success. What is the point of booking a major musical star (who knows nothing about your company, association or charity) to perform a second-rate version of their normal concert in a poor-sounding home studio, looking depressed and sounding less than stellar? There are many seasoned production companies eager to help you, so don’t hesitate to seek one out.


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


Here are a few examples of how to successfully incorporate celebrity talent into your next virtual event.


1.     Have your star make emcee-style intros for your educational speakers or make surprise entrances and exits to keep your viewers engaged throughout your event programming.


2. Engage your star during virtual breaks in one-on-one conversations with participants around a fun subject (such as sports, cooking, favorite vacation spots, pets, humor, etc.), staying away from controversial topics, negative news and politics.


3. Allow participants to send in questions for the celebrity with the goal of including the maximum number of short interactions. Have your 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 celebrity.


4.     Engage the celebrity in a “fireside chat” led by your moderator that includes your company’s executives and features customized content.


5.     Gain insight from an expert celebrity speaker on a topic (leadership, teamwork, overcoming adversity, etc.) via an intimate discussion that will allow him or her to provide an outside consultative opinion on a topic customized to your organization.


If you decide to have an artist perform musically, you need to give special consideration to the content. Less is more in terms of musical numbers. Selections should complement your messaging, and they should be inspirational, positive and motivational. I strongly recommend pre-recording all talent segments to allow for the best possible production in terms of sound, lighting and overall presentation, followed by one-on-one chat sessions that can be improvised and live streamed during the event.


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


Coronavirus Dialogue Series: Event Marketing Strategies for Virtual and Hybrid Events

Interacting with a celebrity in a virtual medium can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for event attendees. There is nothing quite as thrilling as looking a famous person in the eye and speaking directly to them, whether on Zoom or other videoconferencing platforms. So if you’re looking to add a truly engaging experience to your virtual event, now is the time to maximize this opportunity while controlling the deliverables. And in doing so, watch your virtual event transform into an unforgettable experience that your attendees will be talking about for the rest of their lives!




About the author: Nancy Hays is the president of Nancy Hays Entertainment & Speakers, Inc., VirtualCelebrityTalent.com and DanceWithNancy.com. Nancy specializes in producing celebrity talent and speakers for meetings and events and dance programs for virtual participants. In addition, Nancy works through NancyHaysSpeaks.com as a virtual moderator, professional dance instructor and musical entertainer. Nancy's products and services have received critical acclaim in major publications including LA Times, Washington Post, Variety and others, and she has made appearances on major network news and talk shows. Reach out to her at nancyhaysentertainment@gmail.com