Why is an event host essential?

Read on, if you’re organising an event

Stress has the power to topple confidence.

Years back, when I took my first steps at the radio station, I brought with me a large bottle of water. I had it by my side, when editing and presenting on-air. Although I knew that I had prepared meticulously, the invisible force that was my fear of public speaking would be the real culprit to the perpetual dryness in my throat.

Listen: Voice trembling and hyperventilation at its finest. One of my first live radio appearances (WASU FM, North Carolina, USA 2011).

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Fast forward to the present day, where I stand backstage at the breathtaking National Theatre stage. I meet the incoming director of sales. I sympathise. Despite conquering numerous boardroom presentations, his situation takes on a new significance, as the audience grows from several, to several hundred. It’s no wonder that upon our first meeting, he asks me the fateful question: “Excuse me, would you happen to have a bottle of water?”

 

Simple. I also know that my help will not stop with hydration. By taking responsibility for this man’s success, I jump into his shoes and advise him on how he should best present himself to the audience. I want him to know that we’re on the same team.

— I guarantee solutions for even the most ‘fluid’ event situations. Because guests should always cheer with champagne – not spilled milk.

That Moment in the Spotlight

As a radio and television journalist, I believe that within each of us sits a unique, captivating personal history. For it to sound its best, however, it needs commitment and kindness.

 

From time to time, even the typically charismatic can take on a separate personality when confronted by the limelight. Some lose their superpowers, completely. They freeze, drop their confidence, and count the seconds until the end of their performance – us too. But should it have to be like that?

 

Not necessarily. Failure and success are separated merely by mundane details. It’s easy to overlook them amid prep time – when the phone won’t stop ringing, and the task list persistently grows.

Why is an event host essential?

1. Because you shouldn’t have to know everything.

You probably won’t want to deal with event planners. But an on-site individual could be elemental in championing you at the final moments before the guests’ arrival.

Handheld mic, or headset? How best to set up a slideshow for the speaker? Where should the trophies go, and who should hand them out? How should we walk across the stage to prevent microphone feedback? In which order should we introduce guests, without disrespecting others?

 

These are just a handful of the pressing enquiries to arise throughout the preparation stage. It’s advised to address them as early as possible, to accommodate for any colourful scenarios.

 

You’re destined to learn a great deal when organising an event. Thanks to the presence of the announcer – and their guidance – you mitigate the inconveniences of learning ‘the hard way’.

A great host should carry experience from many co-organised spectacles. They should be ready to share their advice – but not soon before, and certainly not during the event.

2. Because you are bound to limit stress.

As an organiser, your goal is for all invited guests to arrive, that the food is impeccable, and the music ensures revellers are in an optimal mood. By hiring a host, you eliminate a distinct fear: what will happen on stage. During my decade of work, I have witnessed many unforeseen events. A well-known singer arrived an hour late for her concert. Electrical power failure left acrobats hanging from their ceiling trapezes. Berlin police had entered the dancefloor at 10:00pm to enforce a noise ordinance. What do these situations have in common? We remember each of them with a smile – I, the organiser, but above all: the audience. What’s critical is your immediate reaction. An open and honest approach to guests is all that is needed to turn a stressful situation into a joke. Add some empathy to the mix – and you’re ready!

3. Because you can’t miss the opportunity.

When the event is led by a professional, you and your people will have time to focus on what’s most important: your guests. Your organisation probably does not organise frequent mass-scale events. Therefore, when you do – it’s best to make the most of it.

 

Rather than perfecting a meticulous script, and stressing over the upcoming act, reclaim your time to engage with invited guests, personally. They’ll appreciate it all the more, as they arrived for you. A host will skilfully open the event from the stage – allowing you, and the team to step up, only at the most convenient moment.

4. Because not everyone loves a stage performance.

“Excuse me, could the technician please move the light away from me? I can’t see a thing.” That question may not seem ideal for a debut. But I’ve heard these words on multiple occasions. The breaking voice, beads of sweat, and air of embarrassment are an onstage standard. But this is avoidable, as you can work to own the space. Even the busiest clients are encouraged to stage a rehearsal. The best thing would be for each performer to attend. Step-by-step, I would take them through the entire spectacle. I would view the stage from their perspective, and provide insight on audience expectations. Thanks to the constant contact with producers, I pay attention to each detail that could upset the balance. Even a bright spotlight won’t seem as threatening when the speaker is prepared in-advance.

3. Because you can’t miss the opportunity.

When the event is led by a professional, you and your people will have time to focus on what’s most important: your guests. Your organisation probably does not organise frequent mass-scale events. Therefore, when you do – it’s best to make the most of it.

 

Rather than perfecting a meticulous script, and stressing over the upcoming act, reclaim your time to engage with invited guests, personally. They’ll appreciate it all the more, as they arrived for you. A host will skilfully open the event from the stage – allowing you, and the team to step up, only at the most convenient moment.

When the stage is taken care of by a professional, you can easily focus on your guests and spend time with them.

Photos: Łukasz Bera, Rafał Ogrodowczyk for Hyundai Nawrot.

5. Because you care about elegance.

How they view you is how they will write about you. As a master of ceremonies, I believe in these words and strive to be the best possible ambassador for your organisation. The foundation rests with a well-fitting suit and a well-groomed but minimal-maintenance hairstyle. When a news anchor for CBS News presented the famed news programme wearing a pink tie, surveyed viewers could not recall any content, save for the vivid accessory. The lesson is clear, in that the presenter should be impressionable – but to never overshadow others with their appearance.

 

However, class comes in many forms – such as attention to spoken words. Television and radio presenters with multiple years’ experience employ a sort-of ‘admissibility filter’. Every one of us ensures words don’t carry any hidden meanings. After all, double-meanings may carry serious consequences.

With good intentions, meet ambiguous outcomes. Watch: French President describing the Australian Prime Minister’s spouse as ‘delicious’.

People who are unfamiliar with media practices can be nervous to the point that they may avoid thinking about a phrase’s meaning. A joke told during a company party may not have the same effect during a black-tie gala. In all, it’s best not to be on the receiving end of such a mistake!

6. Because time management is central to a successful meeting.

Every beautiful moment has its ending. Even the best possible scenario can fold when the audience grows tired or is failed by a performer. When hosting conferences, I take care that the next speaker remains right-and-ready at least 10 minutes before their appearance. This way, I ensure I am not a nuisance to speakers who must prolong their performance. With this, I can respectfully, but systematically speed up someone’s presentation. Speakers at major conferences may be acquaintances of mine, but I remain loyal to the audience. Many attendees have plans to return to their home city, following the event. In the case of the organiser, I understand that in large venues, every hour overtime brings with it an additional cost. A good event host will take responsibility not only for their participation but will coordinate specific people and elements – to always keep on track.

7. Because you invited international guests.

Increasing numbers of conferences and company anniversaries unite clients and co-workers from all over the world. It is more than just a courtesy to welcome guests in their native language. I use English, German, Polish, French and Spanish for this purpose. I employ the first three at an advanced level, whereas in the latter I am scenically communicative. If it comes to my attention that there will be other nationalities among the guests, I will take care to prepare at least one sentence in their language. Thanks to this, every invitee will notice the international community to which they belong and feel appreciated. For over seven years, and with over 200 episodes to my name, I have created an English-language programme on Polish Radio, on which the guests are foreigners. The most crucial aspect is openness, awareness of diversity, and understanding cultural norms.

Strong, substantive preparation ensures our common comfort. Let's talk about how I can support you

Fot. Arek Stankiewicz (Czarna Offca).