Imagine planning for your event for months and months. You've spent countless hours meticulously arranging every detail. The night finally arrives. The food is delicious. The guests are dressed to kill. The agenda is solid. The lights go down on the audience and up on the stage. Out walks your colleague, Randall, who reluctantly accepted the role of emcee when you realized (two days before the event) you hadn't figured out that part. He starts fumbling with his notecards. In this moment, if one of your beautiful guests dropped a fork, it would be heard 'round the world! Randall clears his throat and your stomach sinks as you realize this is going to be a looong night. You wonder if everyone will remember your incredible planning or the uncomfortable energy of a host who wasn't prepared for the job. Well, at least the food was good.
1. Do the Research
Think of events you've attended and events thrown by other companies/organizations you've always admired. Who was the host? Did you like their style? If so, reach out to the organizer for a referral. Word of mouth through a respected contact is a helpful place to begin.
Once you have a list of a few options, take some time to investigate their online presence. Do they have a website or social media channels? Does it appear they are well-received? What do they share about hosting? Does it appear they're experienced? These questions are jumping-off-points. See what other questions pop-up as you conduct your research.
2. Consider Vibe and Tone
What is the tone of your event? What is the vibe of your audience? Are you clear about the type of event you are organizing? These questions are crucial because you want your host to fit your expectation. A professional emcee can manage high-energy fun while balancing the significance of the overall message you wish to convey.
Your goal is to first create clarity around YOUR ideal event experience before speaking to your potential host. This will make certain a good fit for all involved.
3. Be Specific
You've done the research. You've defined expectations, vibe and tone. It's almost time to contact your perspective host. This is where you want to get specific about your event and your goals for the occasion.
If you're not sure how to be specific, start with answering these questions: What is the purpose of the event? Who will be attending? Is it an indoor/outdoor venue? When will an agenda be available for review? What activities are planned? Will there be other performers/entertainers? What technology will be used? Who is the event contact? When and where will the host arrive? What information will be available to the host in advance (bios, backgrounds, topics/information)? How will additions and changes be tracked and communicated?
This is also where you want to outline any requirements and requests.
4. Ask Questions
Now, it's time to meet your host candidate/s. You may meet over-the-phone or in-person. It's completely your preference. A professional host will provide prompts to better prepare their plan while creating space for you to communicate your needs. Ideally, the conversation involves you sharing about the event, followed by both parties asking questions. Here are a few questions you may choose to consider when speaking with host prospects.
Have you ever hosted an event like this before? Have you worked with an audience like this before? How do you handle an unresponsive crowd? How do you handle unexpected changes or issues? Can you provide me with testimonials? How do you manage time when the agenda is compromised? How do you communicated leading up to the event? What is your process for the day of the event? Are you able to improvise?
These questions will give you a proper foundation. Allow the conversation to naturally flow and see what other questions arise. Remember, a professional emcee will follow-up and provide plenty of opportunities to ask more questions.
A successful host may very likely have a formula for delivering a quality experience for you and your guests. While this is helpful and sometimes necessary, it's also important they customize their delivery for your audience. I'm a comedian. While I love making audiences laugh, you may prefer high energy with a more earnest tone. Remember, you're hiring talent to convey what matters to you and the purpose of the gathering. Your host is your partner. Polished hosts will serve as collaborators in bringing your vision to life and execute when the day arrives.
Now, imagine your event as described in the first paragraph. This time, when the lights go up, a prepared, expert host walks across the stage and commands the energy in the room. Her face lights up as she scans the crowd. Everyone smiles and claps. If a fork hit the floor, no one would ever know because they're all feeling thrill bumps and anticipating an incredible night! Way to go! You just nailed your big event!