Whether you want an emcee that tugs at heartstrings, cracks jokes, poses for a selfie that later goes viral or all of the above, it's important to pick the right person for your type of event. After all, your event emcee can quickly engage or disengage your attendees. So, choose someone who is appropriately enthusiastic, friendly, and quick-witted.
Keep in mind that your emcee is an asset — someone who will help give your event life and personality. Your event is not about this person. Think in terms of a “Best Supporting Actor (or Actress).” The shining star of your event is your “why” — the reason folks are gathered together at this time, in this place. But as any movie-goer knows, key supporting roles can transform a story. Not just anybody will do.
So, here are some tips for finding that perfect host or hostess.
Choose an Emcee That Aligns With Your Event Goals
Your company is celebrating a milestone anniversary. Or you’ve invited key customers to help celebrate a banner year. The event is an awards banquet. It’s a fundraising dinner and auction. The purpose of your event, its format, and content determine the kind of emcee you want — their type of personality, their tone, and perhaps their knowledge of your company, industry, or cause.
Enthusiasm is a must to get the audience excited and keep them engaged. But the level of enthusiasm has to be relevant and appropriate to your goal and the flavor of your event. Should you pick an entertainment or sports celebrity? A respected entrepreneur? A politician or some other community leader? An industry expert? Should it be someone local, or should you bring in a “power emcee?"
Know Your Audience
The best host is able to engage your audience, not just talk at them. Knowing your audience will help you pick an emcee that meshes well. A stand-up comic might be a good choice for an audience of millennial salespeople attending a motivational meeting, but not for the Chamber of Commerce annual Business Awards luncheon.
Aside from age, demographics such as gender and income level can help point you in the right direction. Is everyone from the same industry? The same company? Will they know each other?
Consider the Individual
What kind of person will best fit with your goals and your audience? Individual personalities vary, as do presentation skills. Which traits are most important? Here are some areas to consider.
- Personality – stuffy and overly serious won’t do, but as we noted earlier, over-enthusiasm will overshadow your purpose
- Delivery style and language – audience-appropriateness is critical here
- Willingness to work with you to achieve your goals – an event emcee’s job is not to give a speech but to excite your audience and facilitate the proceedings
- Understanding your industry or cause
Do They Fit Within Your Budget?
You want the absolute best emcee you can get, but you have to live within your budget. The more famous someone is, the more they will charge. Do you really need (or even want) a big celebrity? The best emcee is the one who will help you attain your event goals.
If it’s a corporate function of some kind, a host who is a big draw could do just that — draw a bigger crowd — and, at the same time, reinforce your brand’s reputation for great things. If you’re planning a charity gala, a skilled auctioneer will raise more money for your cause. But you don’t always have to spend more to get more.
And you don’t necessarily have to go with the obvious. While some types of hosts are clearly wrong for certain events, choosing an unexpected emcee can add zest to your event and boost its ultimate success. Just be sure they are a relevant fit for your goal and audience.
Photo by Heroic Productions: TV news personality Don Shelby emceed HealthEast’s 2014 Festival of Trees.