As Seen in MeetingsNet.com
A Corporate Emcee and Awards Host, with a 25-year background in comedy, I can attest to the fact that there was nothing funny about adapting my live presentation skills to the virtual format. It required a tremendous amount of zen, lost hours of sleep, deep dives into an unknown technical world, the creation of new partnerships, the development of a unique bond with a sterile, unresponsive camera versus the energy of a live audience; not to mention, a big shift in how I worked with my clients. But from this alien landscape, a new standard in working, and a new standard of working successfully with meeting planners emerged.
Whether you’re working with a live audience or a virtual audience, it’s all about connecting well. And it all starts at the beginning, with your meeting planner. If, right up front, you can connect and agree on what will make the journey successful, it will ensure that a host can touch the audience with the same engaging energy that he or she would have at an in-person show.
To ensure a good experience and great outcomes for all concerned; there are, of course, the now familiar elements that a meeting planner should arrange to provide to the host. Namely, tight content and direction, tech check and rehearsal times, as well as info on planned technologies, equipment needs and platforms. But I believe there’s more to it. There are less obvious but critically important ways to better help meeting planners make the most of using their talent. Here are five:
1) Understand and embrace the reasons for using a professional host.
Knowing how and why a host works well in the virtual and hybrid environment, (i.e., sets meeting tone, drives events forward, maintains audience interest, etc.) will assure that everyone is on the same page from the get-go which in turn provides a smooth kick-start to delivering an event that connects and resonates.
2) Select a host based on his or her ability to draw an audience in and keep them riveted.
That would be someone who is naturally comfortable in a studio. Someone who can figuratively reach through the lens to capture audience attention. It’s often the likeable, charming, entertaining and funny host that seems to work well.
3) Consider a quick study.
Pick a host known for making your industry theirs. A host willing to learn about and navigate in your world like it’s their own. A host who will also take the time to learn about the executive team as well as the audience. Be open to discussions on the same. This kind of familiarity goes a very long way to making your guests feel right at home and ready to settle in to watch what are often very long programs.
4) Make sure your emcee is nimble.
This will ensure you can solve problems quickly and jump into a “plan b” seamlessly if needed. Someone with a quick wit and professional expertise who can quickly produce clever workarounds is a good bet.
5) Think about hiring a pro-active creative host who works with you to find unique ways of engaging the audience.
As an example, a clever host might use his or her platform to ask an audience to connect with him or her on LinkedIn during the meeting. In return, they’re promised a shout out. But not just any shout out; one that has been personalized quickly, behind-the scenes, based on their LinkedIn profile. Audiences love the recognition. And the surprise. It doesn’t get any better nor does it get any closer to what happens in a live situation. It’s a brilliant way to make virtual immediate and real. Look for that. A host that finds atypical ways to connect that can break that “fourth wall” in a virtual situation.
I truly believe that these tips can provide incomparable measures for meeting planners who not only want to make the absolute most of using a host in a virtual or hybrid event; but who want to walk away with a super solid and successful virtual or hybrid meeting.