A company party, sales meeting or annual conference is like a story, composed of many elements: a welcome reception, educational sessions, entertainment…the list goes on. One thing that meeting planners shouldn’t overlook is the piece that can thread it all together, a person that moves the story from beginning to end, a host, otherwise known as an emcee.

 

Planners can hire emcees just as they do any other entertainer or speakers. Entertainment management and production companies offer emcee options, some of whom are also professional comedians. Comedians transition well into the role because they’ve been taught to do improv and think quickly on their feet, both critical skills for an event host.

 

Honestly, a lot of executives don’t have the personality, the stage presence or the charisma to carry a meeting, keep it lively and moving at the same time. The difference between the executive and the professional host is that the latter knows how to consistently keep the audience’s energy level up no matter what event mishap may arise.

 

A good emcee will create more value for you as the organizer and for your attendees. Attendees will learn more and you’ll benefit from having your client’s main messaging and theme reinforced. Below are reasons why having an emcee will add that essential element that turns a meeting from good to gold!

 

Setting Expectations. At the beginning of a conference it’s important to provide attendees with a road map. Tell them where they’re going to go. Provide them with the information necessary to get the most of their time spent. Attendees need to know certain basics such as meeting room locations, restrooms, emergency exits, length of breaks, WIFI pass codes, and general do’s and don’ts so everyone is informed and knows what to expect. A broad vision should be presented from the emcee that answers the following questions:

 

  • Why they are here
  • What they should expect to learn
  • A few major highlights and themes for the event and/or each of the days.

 

Laughter. Laughter is participating. When presenters go on, they want to entertain on some level, too, and the laughter they might be looking for will increase if the crowd has already been warmed up. A strong emcee does their research and comes prepared with comic routines customized for corporate business and the specific group they are hosting. The ‘material’ should be about the company, their acronyms and jargon. The audience will appreciate that the host has taken the time to learn about them. It personalizes their experience.

 

Audience Engagement. You want your meeting to look as good as it can, to be professional and engage the audience. Professional hosts aren’t just worried about getting laughs, they also want to connect with the audience. A host sets the tone and shifts the energy to what the business meeting is going to be about. They help keep the event running smoothly, filling in any transitional gaps. Attendees don’t necessarily come to a meeting thinking about having fun or being entertained, but the host’s job is to get them involved.

 

Awkward Mic-Happy Executives. Some CEOs and executives are nervous and shy or soft-spoken. Yet, the over-confident executive can backfire too. Instead, they may happily get up onstage and never stop talking. Worse, start saying things that stray away from the purpose of the meeting at hand. A joke or story that may poke fun at the company can become awkward when delivered from someone on the inside. Luckily, an emcee is trained at dealing with these uncomfortable situations and can help steer the speaker and meeting back on topic.

 

Entertaining Panel Discussions. Anyone who has held a panel discussion knows how quickly it can become messy without a proper mediator. An emcee, given the appropriate questions, can turn it into an episode of “The Daily Show”, offering a bit of comic relief if a discussion gets heated. Whether you use emcees just for the opening program or keep them throughout a multi-day event, they’ll boost the energy level of any meeting. Alertness alone can make the audience more productive, helping them stay focused on the meeting objective. Emcees are able to keep the audience involved, always moving forward.