It's All About The People
We run events in business for all sorts of reasons. To promote a product or service, to communicate information or perhaps to raise money for charity or celebrate an achievement. But it is generally always because we want people to do something as a result of attending the event.
the primary driver of your event should always be to give the attendees, the guests, the audience, the delegates, ‘the people,’ the very best experience
There is of course a lot to think about when it comes to planning this event, from choosing the right venue, to booking caterers, to finding the perfect speakers and if necessary, entertainment, and a whole lot more.
But the primary driver of your event should always be to give the attendees, the guests, the audience, the delegates, ‘the people,’ the very best experience. Why? Well you will have an ultimate goal for this event and that goal will only happen if the people that come to it, walk away feeling enlightened, entertained, inspired, moved or excited, i.e. they have had a great experience. That ensures they will go out and do what you wanted them to do; buy your product, promote your service, sell your ideas, grow a community, join your political party!
However so often it comes down to pounds and pence, and as the catering, venue, and speaker costs mount, corners get cut, and the ‘people’ get forgotten. And when that happens; when you forget the people and make decisions purely on cost; that is when the goal and the ROI fall by the wayside.
That is why a good event planner will tell their clients not to stint on the venue, or hire uncomfortable chairs or serve boring beige food and lousy coffee. They help their clients find the best speakers and hire efficient conference staff, and make sure that at an all day event, there are bathroom attendants on duty the whole time! But too often they forget that a good host will have a better chance of impacting your meeting than just about anything else.
Just as you hire professionals to help with other parts of your business, you need a professional event host to help make your events memorable
An event host or MC, or as the American’s call it ‘emcee,’ commands the attention of, and guides the guests, attendees, ‘the people,’ through the event. They stand on stage and present. They introduce the acts, speakers and activities. They keep the momentum high, the attendees engaged and ensure the tone and messaging the client wants is a constant through the event. They bring together the strands of the event into one coherent message.
Just as you hire professionals to help with other parts of your business, you need a professional event host to help make your events memorable and worth the investment.
And so if the client forgoes the professional host, then why? Probably money, right? And what have we already established? All major decisions in planning an event should be about the attendee experience. If the motivation around who is the host or Emcee is not about how it impacts the audience, but about say cost, then you are undermining the success of your event.
a good emcee will have a wealth of experience
Event hosting is a specific skill that is much more than entertaining a crowd or having a polished speaking voice. The host is bringing experience, style and charisma with them. Including the knowledge of how to handle any dramas that might crop up; a speaker talks for 30 minutes when he was scheduled for an hour, another is delayed by traffic, or horrendously boring and off topic. AV can fail, the caterers might have a kitchen fire. Any event organiser worth their salt will know that however perfect an event appears, something will have gone wrong. A professional experienced host has a bag of tricks to cope with these and the charm and confidence to carry it off so your audience barely knows there’s been a glitch, and if they do, is wowed by the way it’s been handled.
In addition to bringing flair to the on-stage proceedings, a good emcee will have a wealth of experience and consequently, advice for the client or organiser and be able to lend their professional opinions to the running of the event.
make sure you know what you’re getting for your money
To sum up, an event host brings unflappable style and experience, ensures the continuity of the proceedings, keeps the audience attentive and entertained, and lends professional opinions to the running of the event. They take care of the audience and make sure they have a great experience, the event is slick and professional and runs smoothly, and the client’s goals for the day are exceeded.
So hopefully I’ve convinced you of the value of hiring an professional host for your event. Now I want to make sure you book the best one for you.
First of all, make sure you know what you’re getting for your money.
The event host or ‘emcee’ should want a proper conversation with you to find out all about the event before they quote for the job, so that you both understand what is involved before talking numbers. Of course most will have a minimum hourly fee. However, in my case for example, I factor in not just hours on stage but all preparation time, and any meetings my client might need me to attend as well as social media and marketing extras they might want me to get involved in.
If the quote is considerably cheaper than their competitors, the host may not be factoring in prep time and assuming you’re doing all that for them. However the opposite may also be true, the very expensive and famous hosts might expect the same.
In that case, make sure you ask yourself what do you really want? A professional host to do all the things I’ve been talking about in this blog and really ensure your event will be a massive success, or a ‘name’ that you hope will be a draw at the event.
the celebrity can be a great speaker but that doesn’t necessarily make them a great host
Be warned that popular actors, after dinner raconteurs, on-air-personalities, and comedians may expect you to do all the prep and they just turn up to sprinkle star dust. Or they might be great on screen but may not know how to build rapport with a real audience; they might not know how take the ‘temperature’ of the audience and adapt, or link one speaker and their speech to the next item, or ad lib when things go wrong.
I would argue the celebrity can be a great speaker but that doesn’t make them a great host. Hire them for a speaking slot; hire a professional emcee to be your host.
once you hire them they should have a lot more more questions
Before you book your host, get them to tell you about the other events they’ve hosted and give you testimonials. Ask them what do they think is their role? What kind of information do they need for the job? They should have a lot of questions for you. For starters, they should want to know about the background to the event, the draft program, and the speakers. They should be asking why are you running the event? What does success from this event look like for you? What are the three key things you want your attendees to take away from the day?
And once you hire them they should have a lot more more questions. And that’s a key reason to book them early. Not only so they don’t get booked up elsewhere but also because those questions and the advice they bring will ensure you get maximum value from the booking. I like to say the earlier I’m booked to the party the more you get for your money.
However, if you've read this far and still think you don’t need a host and think you can do it yourself, then it behoves me as a good human being to give you some tips to help ensure your people have a good experience.
Write a script - even down to the thank you's so you’re never stuck for words. Please don’t “read” from it tho - only refer to it.
“Will I get home in time for school pick up? Where do I pay for parking?Should I pee now or will there be a break soon?” These are the things your attendees will be distracted by so give them key event info early!
Have some things up your sleeve to talk about so you can fill if there are any delays or glitches
Research the speakers really well, so you know what they’re going to say. Don't just read out their bio when you introduce them. Try and find out interesting things the audience can’t just read in the programme.
Make sure the speakers have all they need: water, a microphone, adaptor for their laptop, etc. It’s your job to look after them, not just introduce them.
Have a few questions for the speakers in case one asks the audience if they have any questions and they don’t. That way you can swoop in with your own and save any awkward silences.
Have some things up your sleeve to talk about so you can fill if there are any delays or glitches.
Socialise with attendees in the breaks - find out what they’re enjoying or not, remember titbits from conversation to add to your patter and make them feel listened to.
So I could give you more of course, but you’d hardly expect me to share all my hard earned skills and experience here. If you’ve got an event coming up get in touch and find out how I can really take it to the next level.