Virtual Event Hosting: A Guide to Excelling as the Face Behind the Screen
Thriving in the Expanding Arena of Virtual Event Hosting
The global shift towards virtual platforms has reshaped many facets of our lives, and the realm of events is no exception. As physical gatherings take a back seat, the demand for virtual event hosting is burgeoning, creating new opportunities and roles within the digital space. Among these is the role of a virtual emcee or host, a position that stands as the backbone of any virtual gathering.
The Significance of a Virtual Emcee
The role of a virtual emcee is indispensable for ensuring the smooth and efficient running of virtual events. Serving as the glue that holds everything together, virtual emcees welcome attendees, introduce speakers, moderate panels, and make sure the event theme is cohesive throughout the various segments. With events transcending global borders, having a capable host to seamlessly integrate various elements, even from different countries and time zones, is paramount. As demonstrated in an event featuring Steve Wozniak and production teams from across the globe, a competent emcee can cohesively bind disparate elements to craft a unified and engaging virtual experience.
Essential Skills for Effective Virtual Hosting
- Improv Skills: In the virtual world where technical glitches are inevitable, the ability to think on one’s feet is essential. Virtual hosts must be adept at handling unexpected issues, filling in gaps, and maintaining the flow of the event without missing a beat.
- Empathy and Team Collaboration: A successful virtual emcee is empathetic and collaborative, understanding the needs and challenges of speakers, organizers, and the audience to create a harmonious and inclusive event environment.
- Technological Savvy: Comfort and proficiency with technology are crucial as virtual emcees often manage various digital aspects, ensuring that all technical elements function seamlessly for a flawless event experience.
- Responsive to Direction: The ability to take and swiftly act on directions from producers or organizers is fundamental for keeping the event on track, adapting to real-time changes and maintaining the planned schedule.
- Effective Communication: Global events require clear, concise, and effective communication. A skilled virtual host effectively utilizes body language and expressions, ensuring that their messages transcend language and cultural barriers.
Seizing the Opportunity
The surge in demand for virtual event hosting presents a lucrative opportunity for speakers and professionals adept in these areas. Even as organizations shy away from large in-person gatherings, the need for individuals who can hold the virtual space with confidence and competence is continually escalating. Understanding the intricacies of a brand, internalizing its language and values, and even aligning with its visual identity, like incorporating corporate colors into attire, can enhance the hosting experience, reinforcing the brand's presence in the virtual domain.
As the world further embraces virtual platforms, the role of virtual event hosting will continue to grow in prominence and demand. Speakers and professionals equipped with the necessary skills and adaptability can seize this opportunity to expand their horizons, contributing significantly to the evolution of virtual events. The virtual event host stands as the linchpin, ensuring not just the smooth operation but the enhanced experience and success of virtual gatherings worldwide.
So, there's a job role I'm seeing, or position I'm seeing in more and more virtual events. And I think, if you're a speaker, a presenter, who really wants to maybe add a new revenue stream to what you're doing, I think this is a huge opportunity. And it's the role of the virtual emcee or the virtual host. And I'm going to talk to you about the kind of skill set I think is required to be a good virtual host. And I want to talk to you about why I believe this is going to be a trend more generally as well, it's going to be more requests. I've been doing virtual hosting events since about 2016. And really, the role of the virtual post or the virtual MC is to be the glue that holds the whole thing together. You're the person that's on camera, you're the person who's welcoming people into the event, who's introducing one speaker, the next speaker, the person who's doing the outro is from them, the partners who kind of linking one section together, the person who's talking about the event theme and threading that through everything you do, maybe you're also doing some panel moderation as well, you're really the glue. And I think some speakers can actually fulfill this job very well, if I know some speakers, including myself, who can do both great keynote speaking and also could be a virtual emcee. It's not right for everyone. But if you have the skill set, this is a huge opportunity, because it's very in demand just now. So, I think to do this well, you have to be this kind of glue. You also have to be comfortable in not just being the sage on the stage. But being the guide on the side. That person who guides an audience through a virtual event, that could be something as simple as a two-hour event, two-hour meeting, it could be something as complex as a multi-day virtual conference with lots and lots of speakers, I think the largest one ever did, we had 140 speakers on them.
I'll give you another example. When I was doing the other day, I was brought in as the virtual emcee for this event, and about 10,000 attendees on it. I'm doing everything live from my studio in the United Kingdom. We had Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple on; he was doing his live keynote to present his live presentation. From a studio in California, we had the main event production team who are in Argentina in Buenos Aires. And then we had another studio in Spain, I believe, as well. And all this is going on all this as feeds. And so my job as the virtual emcee is to be the glue is to bring this together is to be welcoming is to ensure that the event theme is running through it to also moderate some of the panels that are going on and some of the conversations that are going on as well, and be able to just kind of take the flow of the overall event.
So you can have almost a little bit of the face of the event. So there's a number of things. I think if you want to do this well, skills I tend to see in good virtual MCs or virtual hosts. The first one I would say is they have to be very good improvisers. Because as great as virtual is, sometimes things go wrong, sometimes a guest speaker is coming in, their feed is not working correctly, or they can't hear you or there's some problems going. So you have to be very comfortable working on camera life, and being pretty much unflappable and being able to improvise. And suddenly in the middle of nowhere, where you're suddenly told in your earpiece, "hey, the speaker isn't able to get a connection with us. So we need you to just riff on something for five minutes." And not every speaker has the ability; comedians, I often find people that come in from a comedy or an acting background, they can usually do this pretty well.
Not every speaker necessarily feels comfortable in doing this. But if you're quite happy, if someone said to you, "we need you to go and talk about this random topic for five minutes on stage and just kind of get through that," then if you're the kind of person that could do that virtual emceeing could be for you.
The other thing I think you have to have is a simpatico and empathy for your audience. And for the other people that are involved in the event, the other speakers, for example, in the team. So being very empathetic towards them being a real team player. Once again, not all special keynote speakers can do this, a lot of keynote speakers, are lone wolves, they're just happy to come in, give the speech and then go back out again, that's fine. But with virtual hosts or MCs, they need to be much more of a team player.
The third thing I would say is you have to be pretty good with technology and be very comfortable with technology as well. Because especially in the role of the virtual emcee for a lot of events, you're not necessarily going to big production studios, maybe like a TV show word or live TV live broadcast. Maybe you're doing all from your home studio. So you have to know pretty much how everything works. You need to have redundancies. What if that microphone fails don’t have a backup, what if the internet goes down? Do I have a backup? Once again, not everyone has that.
You have to have the ability to be able to take direction. So like that event I just mentioned, where I'm giving moderate moderating or giving a virtual emcee role that event, I've got a producer event producer in my ear, giving me you know, suggestions of okay, this is where we should go next. And being able to respond to that. And if you've been doing TV, you'll have probably broadcast news. No problem. This is this is your bread and butter. But for a lot of people that can be a little bit weird, it can be a bit disconcerting, especially like some of the events I do. They're in multiple languages. And you're hearing maybe the previous speakers talking in Spanish, and you're trying to figure that out as well, which also leads me to think leads me to this idea being of just a good general communicator, especially big large global conferences, you need to be able to use your body language, use your facial expressions, in a way, unusual language in a way that's a little bit more constrained, a little bit more focused, not so much big words.
Sometimes you have to be a little more focused in your speaking but here's the opportunity in 2000, I've been doing virtual events for many years and emceeing them. But in 2020, I just got so many requests to do virtual emceeing because many companies decided rather than do they can't do the in-person conference, where they would normally bring in a keynote speaker to be the keynote opening or the closing keynote speaker. So in this light said they decided to run a virtual event. But they don't really want to spend the budget on bringing a keynote speaker, and multiple keynote speakers. But they do need to have someone that can just have pulled the whole thing together. And can can do virtual.
So here's what the opportunity is. And I see this more and more where more conferences will be not only looking for that professional keynote speaker, especially under under a certain size, they will be looking for someone to be the glue to hold the whole thing together to be able to know that the event theme to be able to understand the values of the brand. Understand the way that the brand likes to speak about itself, sometimes called a brand guide, the brand will have to have a guy that's how we like to speak.
These are the kind of words that we use as a moderator or as a sort of virtual emcee or host, you need to internalize this, and really understand this and be able to present it as well. Even very simple thing I'm wearing this just now this is one event I did the other day. And I looked at I asked the client, can you give me your brand guide. And I noticed that this color was one of their corporate colors. So as I am the host on screen for this, I'm ensuring that I'm wearing their corporate colors.
These are very fine, detailed, little things. That mean that the role of virtual emcee or the virtual host can can really excel. It's an unusual job. It's not right for everyone, not everyone wants to do it. But there's so much opportunities because it's going to be a little bit slower for some of those in-person events to be happening. But every single day, there's hundreds 1000s of events happening virtually. And some of these really quick big events, where they're looking for that virtual moderator or host or emcee.
So have a think about that for yourself. If you're speaking, I mentioned some of these different skills, being able to improvise, being cool under pressure, understanding a little bit of technology as well. Being able to take direction being a team player. If this sounds like you, and you have the presentation skills you do as a speaker, virtual emceeing and virtual hosting could be a great additional, it doesn't have to be your main thing, but can produce maybe 25% of your revenues in a year increases the diversity of your income streams.
My name is James Taylor, please leave any comments below. Maybe you're doing this just now let me know about your experiences what you think the good skills of a great virtual MC or host star and make sure to click subscribe to this channel. If you haven't done so already. Would you like to know how to become a motivational speaker? Perhaps over the years you've considered becoming a professional speaker, getting paid to travel the world and share your message or expertise on stages.
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