Sunday, August 06, 2017

EmCee Role Must Evolve With The Changing Meetings Industry

I will admit, not all professional speakers like being the Master of Ceremonies for a conference or other live event.  Speaking and hosting are two very different skills, and the amount of time and effort that has to go into being the MC of a multi-day event does not equal the value in the amount paid for the services.  Keynotes pay more when you look at the "per hour rate".  

Plus the greatest skill many speakers possess is how quickly they can clear out of the conference after they finish their on-stage talk.  Too few stick around and chat with the attendees.  An EmCee has to be "on" not just up front in the general session, but in the hallways, at coffee breaks, during meals, at happy hour, etc...

I like serving in the role of EmCee.  I like it a lot, and it is a growing part of my business. It is especially cool when coupled with a keynote and my "Conference Catalyst" program, as I know in these combined roles I can help set the tone for the whole event.  It is a big responsibility, but it matters to the success of a convention.

Over the years my approach to being EmCee has morphed. With all the changes in the meetings industry I am undertaking the most intense effort of study and content curation of my decade long career.  Last year I wrote a one-man show as part of an exercise in storytelling (which spun out my new keynote "The Paradox of Potential") and this week I am taking my first workshop in Stand Up Comedy.  While I am not looking to create a comedy routine, there is much I can learn from comics that will serve my audiences in the future.

A conference is no longer a series of presentations.  It is a show, but most people who speak at events are not yet aware of these showtime expectations of the modern audience.  Thus, the EmCee must become the thread that runs both personality and audience engagement throughout all aspects of the agenda.

Becoming an astute observer becomes more important than ever for the master of ceremonies.  To identify the core learning objectives in the general sessions and some of the featured break-out sessions is paramount to the success of the event host.  "Content Weaving" and "Summation" are becoming what separates the professional from some random board member or employee who fills the host role. 

As with any new undertaking, the commitment to the long-term is my biggest focus.  There is too much a stake to imagine my fresh path will be enough for the avalanche of changes that are impacting the business side of meetings.  Yet is is somehow exciting to know that what got me to this point in my career is not what till take me to the next level. To stay relevant we all must keep learning.

Meeting organizers all have different opinions as to what is important for a successful meeting, and some see a master of ceremonies as just an extra expense. But the most innovative in the business are telling me that hiring 'the right EmCee' (not just anyone) is now becoming a fresh priority and an area they are giving more value in the budgeting process.  Having a solid host means they do not have to worry about every detail while also having to manage an EmCee who is not experienced in the planning and execution of a conference.  

I foresee that I will be working in the meetings business for the next 15 years, and it is clear that more changes are coming. I expect the role of EmCee to grow, thus I am working hard to expand my offerings.  Stand Up and Improve classes are just a part of it.  I need to crystallize my skills at summarizing events and observing what is impacting the culture of the conference (and beyond). 

Meetings are a combination of learning and human engagement, and I am well suited to serve audiences who care about both while also living the story of the experience.  

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

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