1. Superior Communication skills
This seems like a clearly well-understood trait that would be expected from any great host or Emcee but true communication isn’t just about how well someone speaks to a crowd, after all, we aren’t simply talking about a Keynote speaker for your next corporate event (though we will address that in a future article). No, for our purposes we realize that listening is just as important as being able to speak for a solid event host. So from your first interactions with your prospective host what’s their level of communication? Are they asking fact finding questions on their first email to you to better assess the needs of your event or requestion a phone call to discuss your expectations? When you interact with them can you tell they are fully present and understanding what would make your event a success for your organization? Communication skills are a two way street of listening and speaking but often the individuals who always seem to be loud or out in front (the life of the party of the office) aren’t the best fit for an event that in the end isn’t about them but the service they can provide.
2. Playful Professionalism
When it comes to political, or professional organizations saying the wrong thing to the wrong people can cost you more than the money it can cost your reputation which is one thing that once lost is almost impossible to get back. That’s why your host should know the key phrases and to say and the words to avoid. So they should be a dry dismal host of doom? Absolutely not! Now that they know the rules of engagement for your organization they should be able to play within those safe boundaries because when your emcee is having fun it shows and your audience will have fun too. This might look like a clean joke that pokes fun at an element of your corporate culture that everyone agrees is worth acknowledging with a wink and a smile, it can even be offering up a gentle roast of a leader or organizer so secure in their position that it even makes them giggle. One thing is certain a playful yet professional emcee always avoids topics of race, religion, politics, sex, and crude humor because, in the end, a cheap laugh is never worth offending a staff member or alienating a special guest. Your ideal emcee will walk this line with style and class.
3. Energetic and Engaging
Whether your event is a corporate holiday party or a summit of your top leaders one thing is clear no one wants to be bored to death by a monotone emcee who’s eyes are glued to note cards. No, we want a great host to infuse our event with their raw energy and their ability to engage and interact with the crowd. A good host will instantly engage your audience by asking questions that require participants to get involved and they will find opportunities throughout your event to get your audience moving physically or at the very least mentally engaging them.
4. Adaptable and Flexible
Your keynote speaker is running late, a vendor is missing, and your catered lunch will be an hour late. You frantically approach your event host hoping they can buy you some time to figure a few things out and not only do they offer to fill in for your keynote if they can’t make it with a short speech they gave last week to a large group of professional they even help you problem solve the vendor issue on the fly and suggest you start lunch with the salads and fresh fruit since only the hot food has been delayed. As you turn to walk away feeling quite relieved they put a hand on your shoulder as you turn they say to you, “you got this!” as they smile with a wink and turn to take the steps leading to the event stage. You smile to yourself with renewed confidence and say to yourself, “I do got this!” and the truth is you do because you were wise enough to hire a host who knows how to roll with the punches and make changes on the fly. You see your ideal host knows to expect the unexpected and that a good emcee is a gel that holds a great event together.
5. Seasoned and Secure
As we mentioned in our previous point if there is one thing that’s certain about your event plan and timeline it is that special events never go as planned. Their always a technical issues, missing presenter, or weather change that throws a wrench in your well-laid plans. So your ideal host comes prepared with a toolbox full of ideas, anecdotes, and experiences to draw from. There’s nothing wrong with giving an up and coming emcee a shot if they demonstrate the traits we talked about before in great measure but if this is your largest event of the season or your CEO’s biggest night you might be better served to give them a smaller role to play or provide opportunities to test them at smaller happenings. When you just have to have the best be willing to high a well-seasoned professional who’s track record proves they can make your event spectacular. You get what you pay for so keep in mind the rate you pay is not simply based on how many hours you are booking them for. It includes the months and years of experiences that have allowed this emcee to smooth out the rough edges of your event and connect the dots between the bullet points on your agenda seamlessly. It’s their ability to ad-lib on the spot and smile through a last minute schedule change all while still keeping your event on track and on time. When the #1 fear of people is public speaking* don’t mistake an exquisite emcee for a guy or gal with a microphone they are an artist who shapes your event into something vibrant and alive while crafting a message that ensures your audience feels welcome and a part of something big. In the end, an ideal host knows this is so much more than just an event, they are helping you to create an experience.
*According to the Washington Post 10/30/2014 article the top 3 fears of people are: Public speaking, heights, and bugs. Public speaking being number one.
Jeremiah Stroup has worked in media and events since he was a teenager and continues to support special events, broadcasts, and happenings with his talents. To request rates, availability and to book him use the contact link on this site.