By Rachel Sheerin, TEDx Leadership + Happiness Speaker
Corny jokes. Inappropriate stories. Calling people by the wrong names, wrong pronouns, and calling your mascot the wrong name – Oh, I don’t think so!
As if getting the attention of your students wasn’t hard enough, these will quickly disengage students and get your ears burning with frustration when speakers, award presenters, and more take the virtual stage.
With more college events going virtual for 2020 and 2021 – from your Leadership Awards Celebrations to Open Mic Nights, Lecture Series, and Commencement Ceremonies, it’s more important than ever to have an all-star virtual emcee to make your online event memorable.
Below I’ll break down five of the most important reasons why an emcee is the #1 difference maker in virtual events:
#1: SETS THE ENERGY
An unforgettable event for your students, attendees, and legacy starts – and ends – with a fun and exciting energy to keep your remote audience pumped and engaged. Just like your favorite movie that starts off with a huge opening scene or your favorite band stars with #1 hit song, an emcee brings the hype to the crowd in a way that fits the venue, audience, and purpose for gathering together.
An experienced virtual emcee will bring engagement, keeping eyes glued and phones down for every moment of your event – when’s the last time you could say that?! And the best emcees won’t hesitate to throw in some improv comedy to keep the mood light and boost the entertainment factor that keeps college crowds laughing and engaged – I mean, we’ve got to keep it light in a world that is handling heavy change right now.
Additionally, when it comes to energy, a professional, virtual emcee can re-focus energy. Have a professor that totally kills the vibe with their monotone? No way – that never happens… But if you can imagine that it ever did happen, a master of ceremonies is a pro at getting your event back on course and the party kick-started once again while respecting everyone on the event and making others around them look GREAT.
#2: THEY (SHOULD) ENSURE INCLUSIVITY
An inclusive world is the world we here at Bass/Schuler are committed to building. It’s one of the reasons I signed on with Sue and the team – from poets to comedians, performers from all walks of life are represented on our roster here. And we know it’s not just important to us – it’s important to the world we want to build, and your students notice, too.
Which is why having an emcee that is professional – pronouncing names correctly, addressing pronouns correctly, and being able to politely and visibly keep events inclusive is a must.
Additionally, the best emcees will understand the many cultures that comprise your student body, and they’ll know how to connect with – and celebrate – these groups. In the same moments, these emcees will be super mindful of potentially sensitive content, and they should aim to provide signals to the students and speakers that your event is an inclusive, diverse and respectful space where all are welcome.
#3: KEEPS EVERYTHING ON TIME (OR STALLS WHEN YOU NEED IT MOST)
Sticking to a timeline is crucial – and it doesn’t take very long for students to get distracted, jaded and disengaged by lateness, delayed starts and events that don’t stick to their time frames. Add to the virtual world and we need to be faster, smoother and more tight on timeframes than ever.
Having an awesome virtual emcee will ensure that your times, changes and breaks are hit on time, keeping the flow of the event moving and showcasing the professionalism of the event planning team and organization. The emcee rehearses before the show, with a in person review of the run of show schedule with you via phone/web meeting prior to the event to make sure that you’re both on the same page – and yes, that means you can sit back and enjoy the event on the day of!
#4: THEY CAN HELP LIGHTEN THE MOOD DURING TECH ISSUES
When someone’s camera decides to stop working or their 5 dogs start barking at the UPS delivery person, you won’t have to worry about a thing when you have a virtual master of ceremonies. From tech difficulties to life’s unexpected comedies, emcees handle timeline changes with grace and help everyone watching stay calm and lighthearted, too.
As an example from Rachel’s experience in emceeing virtual events, she has kept audiences occupied while production teams navigated technical challenges, power outages occurred and speakers were trying to figure out their slides – and none of the students knew anything was amiss!
#5: THEY PROVIDE CLEAR DIRECTIVES
A virtual emcee can help offer crystal clear directives for your students to keep the event fun and running smoothly. With a great emcee at the helm, Breaks, Q+A, Panel discussions and more are clear, easy to understand and interactive.
What’s even better is that the emcee can provide both auditory and visual cues for students, making sure that no matter how students learn best, information is being shared in ways that get through to them. Interacting in the chat, taking polls, and reaching out to the viewers from far and wide, an emcee is the leader that attendees look to that makes all other speakers and presenters look great!
BONUS! TAKES PRESSURE OFF OF YOU, THE PLANNER!
Planning and hosting an event – especially a virtual one – isn’t easy. With a virtual emcee, you won’t have the added responsibility of hosting the event after you’ve put in all of the work of planning it. Give yourself the gift of a great time and let the emcee do the hosting. You deserve it!
At the end of the day, a great host is an asset to your students and your event’s overall success. How you start and how you finish are often what students will remember – be sure your emcee is professional, polished, and brings the energy that your event – and your audience deserve!
Interested in having Rachel Sheerin as a virtual emcee for your event? Learn more here!
Rachel Sheerin is an award-winning international keynote speaker and team trainer. Named Speaker of the Year for 2019 by NACE, you may have seen Rachel featured in Inc Magazine for her keynotes or on the TEDx stage. Rachel’s known for delivering high-impact education and motivation to audiences from Spain to Seattle. A partner of The James Beard Foundation and Director of Global Award for the Association for Women in Events, Rachel Sheerin motivates and educates students and university teams so they can level up their success, increase their impact, and live a life they love.