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 have a superpower that you might not know about: the power to make another person glow,” reports Stephanie Harrison, happiness and well-being expert, in a study she conducted.
Her study finds that we underestimate how happy someone feels after recognition.
3 phrases that pack a positive punch
“You are making a difference.”
Don’t think, “That’s cheesy.”
Do ask yourself, “How can I encourage others in micro or macro ways?”
“Did you see how that team leader proudly walked out with a huge smile? You are making a difference.”
“The money you raised at our silent auction will help fund our museum awareness campaign. You are making a difference.”
“You inspire me.”
Ask yourself, “Who has inspired me lately?”
Harrison provides this helpful script:
“You inspire me …”
Then add the reason why: “… in the way you show up for your team…”
Finally, share the impact it has had: “… and it’s made me think about how I can be more collaborative.”
Barbara Franklin’s Art Show
“Barbara, you inspire me. You’ve embraced your passion as an artist and now you’re exhibiting at art shows. It makes me think about how I can continue to sharpen and share my passion for speaking.”
“Tell me more about that.”
Disclaimer: It’s one of my favorite phrases that I’ve blogged about before. Saying these words make you a better listener which makes you a better communicator.
Harrison adds, “Being listened to helps people feel safe, supported and acknowledged. One thing that’s guaranteed to make someone’s day: asking them to tell you more about their interests, feelings and experiences.”
To create space for others to open up Harrison suggests:
Find out what is important to them: “What do you do that’s meaningful to you?
Ask them to elaborate on their experience: “What did it feel like when you heard you’d won the deal?”
Invite them to go deeper: “Tell me more about how you interpreted that feedback.”
Emerging from the pandemic might create socially awkward moments. Use these phrases to ease your anxiety and increase your authentic conversational good will with others.
Harrison shows, “There’s a bonus in store for you: It doesn’t just make the other person glow; it ends up making you glow, too.”
The trailblazer of interviewing, who won 12 Emmy awards over a 5-decade career, teaches us 3 master lessons on how to leverage any conversation to your advantage.
“Barbara Walters’s superpower was fairness”, writes Matt Zoller Seitz (critic & writer for Vulture and New York). He continues, “Her subjects trusted her to give them as fair a shake as she could, even if she disapproved of what they did, said, or stood for.”
She exemplified an open mind and the ability to listen to the nuance of any situation.
“Barbara Walters, in my estimation, really has the quality of reaching through to the person,” Mike Wallace said. “She will put the person sufficiently at ease and it’s a remarkable gift.”
Looking at her interviews from every U.S. president and first lady from the Nixons to the Obamas to a wide range of celebrities and sports figures she creates rapport through her content and delivery.
They said yes to her when they wouldn’t say yes to anyone else because they liked the atmosphere Walters created onscreen.
Trust requires these three components working together: trust in yourself, trust in the process, and do your homework.
Walters nails this triad. And THEN she goes after the tough questions!
Excerpt from a Walters’ interview, “You’re a New York Times best-selling author, you’re an accomplished and celebrated concert pianist, and a three-time Academy Award–winning actor. Why the porn?’”
Ok – she also plays into the subject’s ego. She usually gave three compliments, and then went in for the kill.
Barbara Walters, who died recently at the age of 93, left a legacy about how to set the stage for a meaningful dialogue.
▪️ Another stunning piece of data from SHRM: Debra Hamilton asserted, in her article “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” that miscommunication costs even smaller companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.
These findings were reported BEFORE the pandemic. Can you imagine what these numbers might be now?
While worldwide surveys confirm the importance of good communication, SHRM shares that most companies are deficient in their communication skills.
Speak For Yourself® take-aways on communication & leadership
The inability to communicate your understanding of your business will leave you unable to leverage your knowledge for the effectiveness of your organization.
Those with strong communication skills will be strategically positioned to have a greater and more visible impact.
All aspects of running an organization, from staffing to training to implementing policies to making more money, require effective communication.
“Effective communication” means appearing approachable and conversational while you present info logically – with good “Velcro” – using open body language, and channeling your nervous energy into positive energy.
How can poor communication cost you?
You could land your company in court (worst case scenario!).
You could make your company unable to recruit key talent.
You WILL cost the company money.
What can you do?
▪️ Increase your value by improving communication skills across your company.
I’m 8-years old practicing the piano in our living room, in this non-outfit, and my Mom snapped the photo.
You’ll never see this pic – I’m chubby… and, well, not too much is left to your imagination.
We’ve laughed about that photo (OK – it’s pretty cute) and it resides in a pre-digital-age photo album.
“You’ve never asked me why I’d be practicing the piano wearing just a shower cap,” I say to my sister, Nina, the other day.
“Here’s the context,” I continue. “I was preparing to take a bath. It takes a good five minutes for the water to fill the tub. Rather than watch water coming out of a faucet I realized I could make better use of my time.”
“Nina, I’ve been multi-tasking my whole life!”
Have you ever wondered how you manifest your strengths?
Candice Fitzpatrick, Founder & CEO, and Gary Rifkin, Chief Learning Officer of Core Clarity run a thriving business using the CliftonStrengths Assessment to help companies build teams that work towards its full potential.
I have participated in one of their excellent workshops and their assessment tool uncovered my top five strengths.
Guess what my very top strength is? MAXIMIZER! What a surprise. 🙄.
How is this relevant to you?
You are busy leaders communicating in a crazy world.
You can take this core strength test as well… or you can think back to fun or pivotal moments in your life that exemplify how you solve issues in your business, create momentum around your vision/goals, or work towards your next big success.
What are your top strengths and how are you using them in a positive way? And how might they be getting in your way?
Candace and Gary, and their Core Clarity team, are all about celebrating, understanding and using your strengths to move forward.
And that’s what I’m contemplating now … I have maximized my time and resources, as Founder of Speak For Yourself®, and in my fabulous personal world as well… and life is good.
But, sometimes (OK, most of the time) I squeeze too much into each day. Even though I’m having a blast personally and professionally, it can be draining.
I’m still grabbing those “extra” five minutes. But at least I’m aware. Stay tuned.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate & sell. She lives in Dallas, Texas and promises not to practice the piano, just wearing a shower cap, going forward.