Skip to main content

5 Things You Can do NOW To Enhance Your Event

Your participant experience is KEY to retention. Many programs struggle with retention, I would ask what does their event look like? Are you creating an environment people WANT to be at?

Below are 5 easy steps you can still take before your event to create a lasting experience that will blow your participants away!


I have been to many events in my time, from first-year events to million-dollar programs. Every event is unique, this is part of why I love dance marathon! But across the board, one thing I’ve noticed at events of any fundraising level is poor transitions. Taking the time to plan out transitions in advance will have a huge impact on your event. A few things to keep in mind:

Always have someone intro AND outro families – the number of miracle families I’ve seen left stranded on a stage breaks my heart! Be sure someone is there to help them get off stage in a comfortable, digestible way.

Keep voices limited – Generally, only one or two people MAX should be emceeing your event. This is so people can recognize the person on the stage and know when to tune in. At the same time, it’s important to know when to introduce a new voice – opening or closing ceremonies, fundraising asks, families, etc. These are all instances when it might be appropriate to introduce a new voice.

Prepare the DJ to avoid awkward silences – No one love the phrase “embrace the silence” than me. I know how powerful a silent moment or two can be for a speaker. But when you’re scrambling on stage preparing to speak, that’s not the time to embrace the silence. Be sure your DJs know when to pause the music versus when to lower the volume. Fading in and out of speakers is much more pleasing than an abrupt stop.

At the end of the day, thoughtful transitions can DRAMATICALLY improve your event production value, so take the time to plan them out!


Have a script for everything! Opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies, fundraising asks, and everything in between. Having a script will not only make you and your Emcees feel more prepared, but it will make your team look professional. You by no means need to stick to it 100%, but having a general idea of your top talking points will make the speaker feel confident and make everything much smoother.

Unfortunately, a script does nothing if no one knows about it or uses it. Share it with your DJs and emcees, and of course your DM Manager. If you can give the script to your emcees a few days in advance of your event, it will give them time to familiarize themselves with the flow of the event.


The age-old debate of how to approach Dance Marathon… is it a celebration of our hard work or the last final push for fundraising? The answer? It’s both! In Event fundraising should be planned into your timeline and incorporated as part of your event. The in-event fundraisers that are the least successful are the ones that are not planned out and are not scripted.

So you might be thinking, “Okay, Derek – that’s great and all, but how do we incorporate fundraising into our event?” In short? Prime your participants! Tell participants to come ready to celebrate all they’ve done so far and challenge them, what more can we do?! During your opening ceremony mention the ways in which participants can keep fundraising and be recognized for what they do during the event. Have a gong? An airhorn? Maybe a bell? Be prepared to make some noise! Encourage participants to participate in an audio cue for every increment they raise during the event – and be sure the entire room celebrates that cue!


(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

As someone who loves Los Angeles, the traffic can be awful. However, I’ve seen worse traffic jams at Dance Marathons while participants are waiting for food. Be methodical in all aspects of your event, including the physical layout. If you’re an event that’s been around for years – where are your trouble areas? Where do people always seem to crowd or bottle neck? Ask yourselves, why do we set up this way? If the only answer you can come to is “well, this is just how it’s always been done,” I’m sorry my dear, but you are up for elimination.

Regardless of how long your event has been around, take the time to draw out your entire event. Where is registration, what is the food distribution going to look like? Think about flow, flow, flow! I’m a very picture-oriented person so I always think where is the in-bound traffic and out-bound traffic? If your bag check is across the room from registration, and people have to walk across an entire dance floor, I’d question if that’s the best place for bag check. Think about all aspects of your event.


Creating a memorable event experience is something that doesn’t just happen – you have to get creative!  Your event is your last opportunity for fundraising, cause connection, and recognition before your final reveal. What can you do to creatively incorporate those elements into your event? I’ve seen schools find such creative ways of recognizing participants, making fundraising asks, and creating something their attendees will walk away remembering. Reach out to your Dance Marathon manager or each other for ideas on how to get creative!