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
Karen’s after-lunch 1/2 day speaker training workshop
The group enters the seminar room to participate in my afternoon 4-hour (!) speaker training workshop after dining on a buffet lunch of salad, fried chicken fingers nestled on waffles with syrup, barbeque/honey meat loaf, mac ‘n cheese + brownies.
Did I mention it’s Friday afternoon and they’ve been at this association’s seminar for several days?
You might think, “THIS is NOT perfect timing!” And, you’d be correct.
Your speech timing options (if you get to make that call) include: beginning of the day, mid-morning, during lunch, after lunch, late in the day, or after dinner.
Each time slot has pros/cons.
You might get most to attend at the start of the day, but they will straggle in or be distracted by their flood of morning emails.
You’ll never compete with chocolate. (It will always win!) So speaking during a meal has its challenges.
You fight with post-food and/or happy hour fatigue if you speak after lunch or dinner.
Why the timing of your speech matters?
➜ You can anticipate your crowd’s energy level and plan accordingly.
Why the timing of your speech does NOT matter?
➜ You need to be “ON” no matter when you grab the mic.
➜ You may not have a choice of when you speak.
If you want to know more about how to strategize your presentation with regard to your audience’s energy/fatigue level, or how to be “ON” as a speaker – you can find out more in my two books on communication skills.
⏰ So, when is the best time of day/evening to give a presentation?
➜ Mid-morning. Your listeners’ caffeine injections have kicked in and there are no food distractions.
Speaking of food, in spite of the waffles/chicken fingers, meatloaf, mac ‘n cheese and brownies digested by my workshop attendees – I had them standing up and doing lots of activities. All good.
“Credibility Sprinkles” ➜ When you sprinkle your past experiences into your narrative to increase buy-in from your audience. Ex from Scott Galloway’s recent blog – “I got my start building companies, telling stories. Later I became a professor at NYU. Now I tell stories on a stage in front of 150 to 15,000 people who pay between 100k to 250k…”
“Gen Zs” ➜ The generation born between 1995 – 2012, ranging now from age 11 to 28. Main qualifiers of this group: Tech dependent, gender neutral and cause driven.
During a speaker training workshop I said, “Add in some Credibility Sprinkles while sharing stories. This will increase your believability with your listeners.” A millennial dentist then commented, “Gen Z’s don’t like that. Adding in your track record, no matter how subtle your approach, will alienate them.” I replied, “Know the age ranges in your audience.”
To this workshop attendee’s point, this generational shift is happening and here are the reasons why Gen Z’s don’t want to hear about your stellar track record.
Gen Z convictions.
According to TrendsActive.com, Gen Z’s resentment stems from “older generations thinking they know better than younger generations – with age comes wisdom and all that. Considering the state of the environment, the housing market and various societal inequalities at the hands of older generations, Generation Z is forced to question whether older really does mean wiser.”
Gen Z is DONE with older generations deciding what is best. Their collective exhaustion derives from feeling misrepresented with a dash of condescension.
How can you engage with this Gen Z mindset?
TrendsActive provides these wise suggestions:
Understand that Generation Z are progressive, realistic and responsible.
Treat them as adults.
Be open and honest and hear what they have to say.
Dunn’s inspiration originates from her sister, a special-education school teacher at an elementary school. Dunn’s sister observes, ““Some need a box of tissues, or they want to talk about a problem on the bus, and I’ll just listen.”
You might think that this question works best with school-aged children. But Dunn says, “It struck me that this question could be just as effective for adults.”
How often do you vent to a trusted colleague, friend or family member and all you want is to be heard, or maybe even hugged? In fact the last thing you want is advice!
The next time you are in the position to listen to your friend, family member or colleague think about these 3 “H” options: Helped. Heard. Hugged.
➜ By asking them this one question: “Do you want to be helped, heard or hugged?” you will then know how to navigate the conversation.
My best bet: you’ll be a great listener without providing any solutions unless solicited.
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 (email@example.com) 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.