Karen emcees a National Speakers Association – North TX Chapter event
You are asked to emcee your corporate annual event. OR – you’re tapped to “run” the business holiday dinner. OR – you are chairing a Board of Directors retreat.
Here are 7 tips to emcee, “run”, or chair an event/retreat/holiday dinner/meeting/convention.
1. START STRONG & ON TIME
Begin by having someone introduce you. Not a long intro. It could even be the “Voice of God” – an omniscient voice that booms, “Here’s Karen Cortell Reisman, your emcee for our ‘Annual Grow Your Business Expo’!”. You should NOT have to get up on stage and say, “Shush….” or “Can I have your attention now?”
Begin when you say you will begin.
Introduce yourself. You might be well known in this room. However, you might have guests, significant others, new members of the team who do not have a clue as to why you’re at the lectern. Tell your audience who you are and what your connection is with this event.
2. ACKNOWLEDGE OTHERS
You are one spoke of the wheel. Thank the meeting organizers – the unsung heroes, the production crew (if there is one), and your audience – without them you would not have this great opportunity.
3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE & EVENT BACKGROUND
Stealth bomb of all types of communication – NOT knowing your audience. It’s no different when emceeing an event. Do your homework and find out the pulse of your event and what the meeting organizers want as an outcome.
4. HAVE A SCRIPT
Scripts make you a bit stilted, but having a script in this role is OK.
Can you skip the script? Yes – IF you have speaking experience, and the group’s culture leans to informal. Otherwise, the script will be your best friend.
Do you read verbatim from this script? NO. Practice and make it conversational. It’s a crutch, not your life jacket. You may also use a teleprompter.
5. SHARE THE AGENDA
No matter how much the group likes you, your audience wants to know how long they have to sit there, when the breaks are, and what the expectations are for all.
5 1/2: CREATE A “RUN OF SHOW”
This is a behind-the-scenes minute by minute layout of the entire event that you create in tandem with your meeting organizers.
6. MAKE YOUR AUDIENCE FEEL SPECIAL
Don’t say, “I’m nervous. But this is just a routine meeting so we’ll just start with our clip from our CEO.”
AAGH! First – don’t share your nervousness status. We don’t care and if we do care, then we are now distracted by your emotional state. Second – “routine meeting” – NO! You want your audience to feel like this is an ecstatic use of their time. Do say, “Today you are in for a treat. We have a cutting edge program starting with a special and customized video from CEO Jordan Brooks.”
7. END ON TIME
While hard to control, your credibility and the event’s credibility are enhanced when the timing flows well. The other evening I was at an awards dinner (yawn, long winded, I’m already tired… you know the drill). The emcee said we’d be done at 8pm. My “shoulder skeptic” inner voice thought, “These events never end that early or on time.” It did! I was impressed.
The last impression becomes the lasting impression.
While not on your Emcee To Do List, you can suggest to the meeting organizer to have a stellar valet service, if attendees are transporting themselves to and from the hotel/convention venue. Once over, it’s over and people want to move on.
Source: Andy Saks, President of Spark Presentations – sparkpresentations.com
You are not alone in dealing with public speaking nervousness. As CEO of Speak For Yourself® I have worked with 100s of clients from a variety of industries on this issue.
Over time I’ve written a couple of books on communication and selling and many articles on speaker anxiety.
Today “13” is your lucky number! My new e-book is a compilation of our top 13 short and strategic articles covering all angles of how to handle the fear of speaking once your name is called out, the crowd is applauding and you’re centerstage.
You’ll enjoy and gain usable strategies to get your nerves to work for you rather than against you.
I laugh with my clients when I tell them I’ll be their “ledge whisperer” on this issue. And I hope to be that same ledge-whisperer for you.
➜ If you’d like your free copy of this e-book send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with “Speaker Anxiety” in the Subject Line.
Breathe, enjoy and read this book.
You’ll get off that ledge and on to your next stage, boardroom or team meeting.
And you don’t even have to do a squat, burpee or a jumping jack.
“A study in Cell Reports Medicine showed that just five minutes of breathwork each day for about a month could improve mood and reduce anxiety,” reports Richard Sima in The Washington Post.
This report further claims that breathwork benefits may be larger than mindfulness meditation using the same amount of time.
A Huge Assist for Speaker Anxiety
One of the most significant issues facing our Speak For Yourself® clients is getting over stage fright. The outcome of this study, helpful in any nerve wracking situation, can apply when you’re giving a speech, on a panel, recording a video …
Participants: 108 adults, randomly controlled. They did this breathwork at home following video directions.
Activity: Researches compared 3 different 5-minute breathwork exercises. Some were deliberate guided breathing in various ways. Some did mindfulness meditation where participants observed their breathing but did not try to control it.
Results: “After 28 days, participants in both the mindfulness meditation and breathwork groups reported having more positive feelings and fewer negative ones compared with before they began their respective practices.” Both groups reported reduced feelings of anxiety. (WAPO)
“That’s not bad for five min/day,” said David Spiegel, an author of the study. “It seems that practicing some control over your respiration is a kind of entry into one way of controlling your autonomic activity.”
The Accumulation Effect: These positive effects did take time to kick in. The more the participants spent doing this breathwork, the better they felt each successive day.
The ROI for you
When you get anxious you breathe faster. By doing this breathwork you can control and relax your physical state and slow down your breathing.
Can you take a few minutes to control your breathing, connect with your body and encourage it to deal with what you want to deal with… like your upcoming presentation?
Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds. Increase the number of seconds and repeat and repeat.
Are you busy “doing” vs “being”? (OK – rather zen-ish but think about it.)
Photo: by Karen Cortell Reisman @ Barcelona Park Guell
Did you learn in grade school that when you give a presentation you must “act” a certain way?
Going full Shakespeare
Here’s what we see with our Speak For Yourself® clients: When you stand up to deliver your message you transform! The real you goes missing and you go full Shakespeare. Or, conversely, you become muted.
Where did “you” go?
The best mental exercise to sound like yourself at the lectern & reduce performance anxiety
Think about a friend that you meet with to just hang out and talk.
What’s the location? Where are you when you have these chats?
What are you drinking? (Doesn’t have to be alcoholic.)
Some recent client responses:
Person: His brother. Watering hole: A campsite at their 700 acre family ranch. Drink: Blanton’s Bourbon
His mother. Back porch by the pool. Iced tea with lime and mint.
Her husband. Their Crested Butte house on the deck – drinking chilled dry Grey Goose martini.
When you are giving a speech imagine you’re talking to your buddy, in your favorite hang-out location, sipping on your drink of choice.
THAT’S the voice and tone you want to project at your board meeting, panel, or quarterly townhall.
Fill in these blanks and add to our blog comments. Picture that set up at your next event. You will sound conversational and like you.
So, tonight when I’m being interviewed as a “Local Legend” of National Speakers Association – N. TX Chapter I’m going to imagine I’m with my husband, sitting on the porch of our Star Ranch, sipping Glenlivet neat.
PS: check out our new website! www.speakforyourself.com
What should you get yourself in order to speak with confidence?
We @ Speak For Yourself® have curated the best gifts, by category, to help you check this quest off your gift-buying list.
A smile, good posture, and effective eye contact cost nothing.
Have you heard the phrase, “Fake it till you make it?” You may feel uncomfortable but you can appear as if you own Manhattan by your facial expression, stance and eyeball connection.
Clothing & Accessories
Buy clothes you love that fit the group and venue you’re speaking at.
Buy shoes that you can stand in, for hours, that look great. (Good luck.) For women – I’ve seen some fabulous post-pandemic glittery sneakers that have rocked the stage.
Buy yourself a Story Journal. Write down the funny stuff that happens. Keep a story log of events inside and outside your professional world. Then find ways to make these stories relevant when you run your company town halls / strategic retreats / quarterly zoom meetings. You will resonate more with your various audiences, which in turn will increase your confidence.
Besides the obvious – your computer, auxiliary cords, and remote wireless clicker if you use visuals, also purchase back up batteries, a decent pen, old fashioned note pad, and a thumb drive with your material (even if everything is in the cloud). Having your tech arsenal ready and available will add to your comfort level.
Food & Drink
Some of my clients beg me to agree that a shot of vodka will boost confident communication. No. That won’t work, and your holiday gift list to yourself does not include a trip to your wine store. Here are foods and a great drink that will boost your energy:
Some type of protein or a protein shake.
Easy food that will not drip onto your clothes like a piece of fruit or nuts.
(I always take a protein bar, a banana and some nuts to my speaking venues to snack on.)
Your best drink: room temp water to hydrate your vocal cords.
OK – chocolates are always a good thing to have on hand.
Can you think of other items to add to our holiday Communicate With Confidence gift list?
Loved my outfit I wore last week when I gave my Einstein keynote in Portland… until I saw the side profile pics. You tell me… better yet, don’t tell me.
At another recent communication presentation I was asked, “What’re your tips on using humor?” Read on.
Why using humor is a good thing
A lesson taught with humor is a lesson retained.
Humor reduces tension and increases retention.
Everyone wants/needs to laugh.
Humor Do Not’s
Don’t use jokes. You will alienate someone. Jokes poke fun at a social group, a political party, a gender, a college, a religion… Not good.
Don’t use funny quips or cartoons you find online. First – the copyright issues. Second – NOT original. If you see this online then so did 10,000 others.
🙄 🙄 🙄
Your safest bet is to use material about yourself. Keep a log of your own crazy mishaps. Then figure out how to fold your own stories into material that can be relevant to your audience.
Humor = Tragedy + Time
What are you crying about today… that you will laugh about tomorrow? (Well, maybe not the very next day… but with the buffer of time.)
EX: I cried after I found out that I would need a bunch of chemo due to a breast cancer diagnosis 10 years ago. … Time went by. … Then I told my husband, “Jimmy – I’d always thought I’d sleep with someone bald, I just didn’t think it would be me.”
😬 😬 😬
Your Humor Challenge
Observe with purpose.
Find the funny stuff around you. Write it down. Keep a log.
Use these personal stories to support your content.
Ok – the pics from my Portland, Oregon keynote. I don’t think my butt looks big, but do I look fat? Don’t answer that question – it’s a lose – lose proposition.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and just discovered that the spell checker on her Word software has been somehow reset for Brazil and it wants to change the spelling of this entire blog. You cannot make this stuff up! And it’s going to get used somewhere in Karen’s workshop tomorrow for a new client.
PS: Thank you to Linda Cohen, my friend & colleague, for attending my presentation in Portland, OR and taking these photos!