Oct 10, 2012

Hosting an Event (Hello Mike Testing... Hello)

Last week I did something for the first time in my life. I was the master of ceremony at a press conference. The master of ceremony (also called emcee) is the host. The person who welcomes everyone at the start and calls upon people to speak.


This post is basically how I felt being the emcee and how I prepared for the new role.

The Preparation

Though an emcee is not a speaker at the press conference, he/she still does a lot of speaking. That is why it becomes necessary to prepare. It is the emcee who holds the entire event together and it important that the role is carried out well.


Step - 1 Flow of Events
The first thing I did was to decide the flow of events at the press conference. The flow of events was made and shared with everyone concerned. The speakers and the people backstage need to know what happens when. This is how the flow looked like:

Welcome all -> Invite the three speakers on the dais -> Introduce the speakers one by one and call them to speak -> Launching the book -> Prize distribution -> Question and Answers -> Thanks for coming

This flow was shared with others backstage. The guy who has to play music when the book is launched needs to know when to play. The guy who has to bring prizes also needs to be in sync. There is a lot of co-ordination in this job.

Step - 2 What to say? [The Script]
I wrote down what I was going to say under every item on the agenda (flow of events). I made a table in MS Word and against Welcome all I wrote down everything I wanted to say. This is what I wrote: "Welcome everyone to the XYZ's Healthy Book Launch..... Blah blah blah......................... It is a unique and innovative book...............blah blah blah."

This way I wrote down my script for every item on the agenda.

Step - 3 Practice
After writing down everything I wanted to say for each item of the agenda I started to practice. I used to do the complete dry run for the entire event. Then I would check what all I forgot. Was I missing any important point.

For example, the introduction of Speaker 2 had five things to be said about him. Was I remembering all the five?

I practised for almost 5 to 6 times. While practising I was not looking at the printed script. After the 5th time, I was very comfortable. Note that I was not cramming (mugging up) the exact lines. Every time I spoke a bit differently but I made sure I cover the important stuff. You need to be natural and yet cover things that matter.

Step - 4 Converting Script to Notes

Once I knew what I will talk about, I re-wrote my script. The same Welcome all script became a small list of bullet points. Just in case, I forget something during the event, I will quickly look at my notes. Here is the list of points:

Welcome

  • XYZ's Healthy Recipe Book Launch
  • XYZ promotes MNP
  • Unique and innovation book

This way the entire script was turned into bullet points. Why bullets? Because I can quickly glance through a list of bullet points.

Step - 5 Practice

I practised two more times just before the final event. Since the venue was full of journalists, I had to do it in the parking lot :-) I also tried out a trick. I practised the starting part a few more times so that I am very comfortable at the start. What are the first words I am going to say? Just ensure no goof-ups at the start.

Two more things

Pronunciation: During the course of my talk, I had to take names of 6 people. Out of which, one name was tricky to pronounce. I called up that person before the event and checked with her how to pronounce her name right. As an emcee, you need to take care of small things.

Posture: As a presenter I like moving around. As a host, I thought I will have a tough time standing at one place. When I was practising, I ensured I stood at one place and practised and become comfortable.

Introduction: Introducing the speaker is a major role of the emcee. Here again I gathered information about the speakers in advance and made a relevant and impressive introduction. It was short but relevant. I did not share the introduction with the speakers. I guess we must share the introduction and ensure the speaker is comfortable with it. Will remember the next time.

Being the host is not very different from being a speaker. You have a well defined role. Set the mood, ensure smooth running of the event and talk what you are supposed to. You have to talk and talk with passion.

If you have hosted an event, would love to hear about your experience. The next time you are called upon to host an event, do it. You will find the new role interesting. There is a lot that a good host can do. Remember to practise before you go on stage.