A guide is the one steering you on the right course – a firm hand halting you from treading where you shouldn’t, and it’s the instructions researched and tested to provide you with the best results too. Therefore, a guide is also intrinsically necessary for the optimization of an event; And that is where people like me come in.
Hi, I’m Liezel van der Westhuizen, and I make events even better.
I have hosted a number of virtual events over the past few months, not only as a Master of Ceremonies, but also as guest speaker.
The truth is, there have been several online events which I have attended, where a virtual MC was not only wanted, but vitally needed for an events all-round success. Too many times speakers just speak – with audience members interrupting, and ill-equipped event organizers then having to come online in order to try make things run smoothly.
But what is a virtual emcee?
A V-Emcee is the connection between audience, event, and speakers
Having worked as Master of Ceremonies at bustling year-round eventing locations like the United Kingdom, Thailand, Europe and even Bali, Covid-19 government-mandated prevention methods now restricts me from taking to these stages, with all their lights and well-dressed sets. Fortuitously though, I am getting a number of my event organizer clients coming to me, and collaboratively we are brainstorming ideas on how to make the virtual emcee role work well. It is evident to us that the virtual emcee role now requires more preparation than the far more traditional emcee or moderator roles. Noticeably, the virtual emcee role involves some technical work behind the scenes, to ensure lightning, sound, and production, is top quality for an Emcee’s masterful delivery.
There is no denying that there are some Master of Ceremonies, who take to the stage and ‘wing it’ as it were – luckily executing something that works reasonably for all involved. However, being on a live camera is completely different – and tests the extent of connection and engagement, since there is no immediate feedback from one’s audience.
My years of presenting live television (from IDOLS to Awards shows) were exhilarating, challenging, and so beneficial to fortifying me with skills that make me an adaptable emcee today. I was taught quite a bit; and using those lessons has had me towering high in the industry. My experience, and willingness to adjust as well as learn (and take technical glitches in stride), means that I would lend value to any virtual event you need a v-emcee at the helm of.
If there is one thing, I have been diligent about throughout lockdown, its being helpful in offering up tips and articles dedicated to you capitalizing on your skills and opportunities; So here are some pointers on virtual emceeing:
- There’s so much at stake with an event introduction, so put energy into captivating audiences from the start
One of the things that keeps clients coming back to me for my services, is how diligent I am about getting the details right and, getting those details across to audiences in an efficient way. At the start of an event: introduce the occasion and explain how the event works, pronounce the title of the event fully and correctly at a minimum of 4 times in your introduction, introduce the hosts and reference the sponsors in equal measure, and do not forget to verbally state the social media handles as well as pointing them out should they appear on any projections, posters, merchandise, or pamphlets. Explaining how the eventing platform works (including background and outlinks), needs to be done in a way where more than one age or industry group can understand, and in a way that even technophobes will grasp. This serves the function of having everyone at the event on the same page, but is also a reflection of your skill in taking large ideas and repackaging them in a way that people may receive better.
- Introduce all kinds of Speakers with well-researched gravitas
As an emcee, I always spend time researching the speaker, as well as conducting a speaker interview a few days before the time. My research and interview efforts are done to better get to know the speaker, and understand what is most significant to get across in an event introduction. Often, the important insights can get lost in an email.
- An emcee needs to foster engagement throughout the event
Creating meaningful engagement during an event, is a vital point which is often overlooked. Your role is to get the discussions going. One of the ways I ensure communication and connection during events, is by bringing these discussions I’ve helped create, into my talk with speakers – that way everyone is afforded time to listen, process, and engage.
- Emcee’s should facilitate Questions & Answers
Yours is not a job that stops with introductions. When a speaker begins their talk, I always sit attentively listening to the discussion, whether its one topic or various ones. I monitor the platform for audience questions, and in order to optimize time and cues, I oftentimes pose the question to the speaker, on behalf of the audience. Should there be more than one speaker at the event I am emceeing, then the moderator is able to facilitate a panel Q&A just like a live experience would have.
- There is a technical component to the emcee gig
Due to the development of eventing and technology, the scope of the job now involves many more components to understand and be able to use, should you wish to be the coveted adaptable emcee clients always need. The job now includes monitoring apps and eventing platforms, as well as making sure that there are no hassles from the speakers’ side. I am also prone to exercising authority in muting some speakers, or even turning their video feed off, as other speakers take center stage in that segment of the event. Should technical issues arise, I also step in and assist as the emcee. I have often repeated what the speaker has said when connections are suddenly cut, or act as the middle-women if the speaker loses connection and does not return.
- You’re such an allrounder as an emcee, that you also liaise with event teams
Being an emcee also means working behind the scenes with the organizers, being hands on; checking and fixing issues that you, or the audience, may experience.
- An emcee is a contact point
As I mentioned, an emcee is a guide – and therefore a point of contact and reference for most. It is necessary for any online event to have an emcee, or a moderator, who is designated as the point of contact between audiences, speakers, and event organizers. Having this focal point, allows for the event to run smoothly, maintain an accessible singular point for all, and have that designated point be the one communicating everything around the event in a clear way.
An emcee keeps the wheels of your event turning. They are steady ground, but they can also be fireworks if need be– as long as you get one as good as me, your eventing needs (virtual or otherwise) become a great opportunity for connection, and even some information collection.