Why ‘Bob from Sales’ shouldn’t emcee your meetings
Location: ACME Corp. Meeting Room
Agenda Item: ACME National Sales & Users Meeting
Boss: Ok, so that all sounds like a good plan. Anything else before we wrap this up?
New employee: Um, have you ever hired a professional emcee to host your meeting?
Boss: Nah, Bob, our VP of Sales always does a good enough job. I’ll tell him he’s doing it again.
Newcomer: Oh, ok. It’s just that when I was at my last company we found a professional really engaged everybody, supported our messaging…and he was really funny too.
Boss: Bob’s funny, right?
(Everyone silently averts their gaze)
Boss: Really? Ok, tell me more. SELL me on it!
(Everyone perks up)
New employee: Well, for one thing, it frees up Bob to do his job and not have to prepare to emcee. It also lets him meet with our users as he’s not in rehearsals, backstage, and all the other things a pro takes care of…
This is the dream I have far too often, employees and people that have moved to new companies telling those in charge that ‘Bob from Sales’ isn’t the right person to emcee their meetings & events. They need a seasoned professional in that role.
As one of those people who ‘does this for a living’ let me give you 5 reasons why an external professional emcee is better than an in-house staff member.
1) After years of events, meetings, conferences and award ceremonies, we have a perspective of ‘world’s best practice’ that goes beyond the company that is putting on the event. That is, we’ve been there done that, and if you’re open to it, any good emcee can advise on all kinds of aspects. Timing for one. How long a break should be between speakers. Should you really do 15 awards in a row without some kind of breather? What’s the best way to open the meeting? How do we choreograph the ‘Winner’s Waltz’: you know, who hands the award to whom, who stands where, looking which way for a photo opp, etc. Or even who should speak alone and who should be interviewed on stage so that they get their messages across without putting the attendees to sleep. For all the above and more, an experienced emcee just knows how it’s done.
2) You’ve kept the agenda secret, the room decorations and obviously the award results too, so why not add some unexpected interest with an entertaining and engaging emcee who’s only job is getting the messages you wish to impart across and hold it all together? And I mean entertaining. Any good emcee worth their fee needs little more than a bullet point script. If you’re writing pages of ‘script’ then you’ve got the wrong guy. And with the best emcees come Entertainers. Those people who have a turn of phrase that puts people at ease. Who can improvise when things turn south. Who goes out into the audience and involves the attendees, so they better retain the information you want to communicate. Someone who knows when to go for a laugh, and when to keep it straight. Someone who can read the room and steer things to the best outcome – for you.
3) Remember when ‘Marty’ made a fool of the new girl at the holiday party? And how about that time when ‘Phil’ talked on and on, and no one could get him off stage! Being external, a professional emcee has no other agenda than to do the best for you, the client. They hold no grudges, they have no allegiances, they aren’t vying for the next promotion or afraid of taking control. They simply want this event to be the very best it can be for everyone involved. They’ll work with you to do what you want.
4) Didn’t someone once say that no matter how well you plan things, something will always go wrong? There are times when things just don’t go as planned. The keynote speaker is late. The kitchen is running off a different run sheet than the event, and entrée won’t be ready for another 10 minutes. (Amazing how often this happens). A good, experienced emcee cherishes those moments, because it’s then they are really tested, and, assuming you have the right one, have a virtual bag of options to fill, stall, amuse, distract, and add value to any scheduling misfire. A rogue speaker goes off script. The Gold Winner drops the award and it breaks. Someone blanks on their presentation because The Club didn’t close until 5:00am and he was the last to leave. An award winner walks to the stage (“wobbly” as he went to a before party in someone’s hotel room) and can barely navigate the stage to accept the award. (Yes, it’s happened). The guest presenter opens the wrong envelope and says, ‘La La Land’. If it happened to them, it can happen to you. And again, a good emcee takes these moments in their stride. A professional emcee is also your insurance policy. What happens if the PowerPoint freezes and the computer must reboot? Well, this happened just last week, and instead of “dead-time” with nothing happening, I jumped off stage with a microphone, pulled out some fun trivia questions I always have on in my pocket, and picked people in the audience to “play” until the presentation was back up and running.
5) And finally, being from outside the company (but well briefed in the whys and wherefores of it) an external emcee brings a fresh set of eyes and ears to the occasion. They are honestly interested to hear the CEO’s opening address. They eagerly listen to the winner’s acceptance speech and can draw out some real gold nuggets in their response. They are naturally inquisitive, open people who are primed to lead an audience into learning. They want to be there because THIS IS WHAT THEY DO.
You’ve spent a fortune on the venue, A/V, stage, sound, menu, printing literature, support staff, the band/DJ, the photographer, etc. Why leave all that potential teetering on the edge without a professional, experienced emcee to hold it all together? It’s like building a wooden house, and not buying the nails, or like baking your daughter’s 21st birthday cake and leaving out the eggs. It’s like me going on a bit too long just to make a point!
New employee: …and we found his fees were worth what he brought….
Boss: Sounds good to me. Know anyone?
Boss: Richard Laible. Hum? Give him a call and get a proposal. Ok, meeting adjourned… Hey, what’s your name?
New employee: Phil.
Boss: Thanks Phil! I see good things for you here …
Richard Laible: Me too!
(For more information please visit: www.RichardLaible.com)
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