There are many kinds of event hosts or emcees. Their work has set the standard of what it means to be an event host. So, when I reach out to a new company for possible work collaboration, I have to start from ground zero when it comes to setting expectations. I tell them that I don’t read out names and short bios from a piece of paper (or repeat them from memory either). I am not just onstage when announcing information and then just gone. I tell them about the amount of research that goes into preparing for an event, and how that research translates to dependability, resourcefulness and confidence on the day of the event.
You might be thinking, “But what does research have to do with being an event host?”
Quite a lot actually. Apart from the ability to connect with people, I would say it is the other most important factor in being a good event host. So, let me share a story of how research can contribute to making meaningful connections, strengthening the ambience of the event and showing event organizers what an authentic and engaging event looks like.
A few weeks ago, while I was preparing to host the Smart Grid Conference, I noticed that one of the keynote speakers had no information available on him on Google or social media. In the 21st century, it is rare to come across anybody who has no presence on the internet! So, I reached out to the event organizers, requesting they send me the contact of the keynote speaker. When I reached out to him and made my request for a virtual meeting so I could learn a little about him, he happily obliged and we began chatting. It was one of the most inspiring stories of determination and staying true to one’s vision. Mr. Ludwik shared that before he came to the prestigious position of manager at the present company, he had worked for years as a meter reader for an electricity company. He would walk around lugging a bag of old reading machines, each small thing weighing about 5 kgs. Curious, I asked him if he had any of these with him still by chance and he said yes and proceeded to bring one out and show me. I suggested that he take it with him on the day of the event and after his presentation on developments in smart meters, share a glimpse into the past via the old meter reader.
Fast forward to the day of the event—I take stage right before Mr. Ludwik’s talk and provide the audience a brief glance at the machine. I also let them know that Mr. Ludwik would be available during coffee break for anyone who would be interested in talking to him. This, along with his presentation, really got everyone interested and engaged. Audience members resonated with Mr. Ludwik’s story, liked seeing the machine and became much more energetic and enthusiastic about the conference thanks to that small object and personal storytelling.
So, you can see how much difference a genuine desire to learn about someone else can make to an event. Maybe it is time to stop looking at an event host as merely someone who reads brief bios from pre-determined material. Instead, a new definition of event host could include the intangible aspects that have been overlooked so far— someone who sets and maintains the tone for an event. To do so, they need to know a lot about each of the elements that make up the event starting from the topics of discussion to details about the speakers and a sense of what the audience is like. This allows an event host to maintain the perfect ambience for a great event : )