Event Planning

S.2 Episode 15: Should you hire a professional emcee?!

Does having a professional Emcee make a difference for your event?  Is it worth the cost of hiring one?  Charles and Lisa sit down with professional Emcee, Amy McWhirter.  Hear the ways emcee’s make a difference for your event and the tricks they have learned to create engagement!

 

Tell us about you.

 
I started out doing trade shows. I’ve been doing that a long time, then about 4 years ago I started transitioning into doing more corporate events. I absolutely love it, the experience from the corporate trade show world led up to this.  Its the live energy I love so much. It’s a lot more improv and in the moment. Trade shows are usually scripted, we have scrips in the live hosting corporate events but our audience is right there and you are guiding them through.  You gauge the energy level and I get such a thrill out of that. 
 
Here in the twin cities we see a lot of news anchors emcee events. How do you create the connection between you and the clients? How are you introduced?
 
Right off the bat I introduce myself and tell them I will be joining them on the journey. I don’t spend too much time on it, just a couple sentences, it’s really all about them and their event. At the end of the event I do have people coming up and say it was great and engaging and think I work for the company.  That is the goal!
 
What sets the tone for an event?  
 
Meetings ahead of time to plan with the client, figuring out what the messaging is.  The tone can vary between the kinds of audiences. The sales meetings are typically a little more high energy, where as a customer gathering is a little different.
 
How do you build your prices?
 
I build pre-planning into the pricing. I consider it part of rehearsal which is the day before the event and are built together for a day rate. For a corporate meeting for a day it is $4,000-5,000. 
 
In your opinion what makes a great emcee?
 
Energy! Energy is huge, warmth, engaging, charismatic, authentic: those are the things I think make a great host.  
 
My experience with the corporate presenting world goes a long way. I am used to getting immersed in the topic and sounding like an expert. That comes somewhat naturally at this point, part of that is getting familiar with a new client. It goes back to meetings and the content. 
 
How do you balance script vs improv?
 
They have their messaging but I have freedom to make it sound natural and put it in my voice. I either do bullet points or write it out more long form. In the moments there’s a lot of improv. Not changing the messaging but the way it’s delivered, when the people are there vs rehearsing, in the moment it will be different. It just comes alive when the audience is there. You have to be able to read the room and adapt accordingly. 
 
Do you see a lot of companies using employees to emcee and how do you show them the value of hiring a professional?
 
Yes that does happen. If they want to do that, it’s fine.  A professional is a professional for a reason and can handle all those unknowns or unexpected things.  The energy level alone, it’s hard to do that and maintain the energy level. The head of an emcee is in a different place. The employee will have so many other responsibilities and their focus can be pulled during the event. 
 
If I want to interview a few emcees, what kind of things do I need to do to vet them?
 
Do research before even talking to your candidates.  Go to a website for them, look at their testimonials, video clips are huge.  You can see the person in action doing what they do best. Of course talk to them and see how they do one on one and get a personality feel.
 
Do you memorize your script?
 
There are confidence monitors, they are hidden so most people don’t know they are there. I put my notes there.  I carry cards, I rarely need them but they do help especially in an interview or panel on stage. Sometimes the monitor will not be working because a video just played, or they forgot to switch it back. 
 
How do you keep people on time?
 
 Lots of reminders about what’s next and what time to be back for the general session. I point them to the mobile app and reinforce it by having them refer to their app. Things definitely do go long. 
 
What was the most fun moment in your career?
 
I went to host a customer conference in Rome last October. I did not meet the pope!  Honestly a sales meeting I did last month, we had some really fun bits.  We had a trivia game for the sales folks and I wore a crazy rainbow jacket. They played a montage of game shows, including international because we wanted to include all the folks, that was really fun. Then I got to do a song and dance. I am a dancer and I can sing.  And the CEO was so big on me doing a song. “You’re ready for that, you’re going to do that song right?!” It was fun. I put on a top hat and did a little bit from Chorus line, that was super fun!  
 
Has anyone asked you to do anything weird?
 
So far no!  If it really fits with their theme, I will say yes. The wildest I had to get was that colorful jacket. 
 
To get a hold of Amy:
Insta: presenting_amy
 
Instagram: charlesevaneide
eidecomcreative
 
Twitter: TheMeetingMinds

S.2 Episode 14: Shocking Stories of a Storyteller

Does telling a compelling story actually raise more money? Elizabeth Warmka is a master story teller!  She helps to explain how story telling should be weaved into the entire event, from invitations to the moment they get out of their car, to the video played on screen.  These are tips you don’t want to miss.

S.2 Episode 13: Explosive Entertainment Featuring Event Legend Michael Cerbelli

Michael Cerbelli from Cerbelli creative joins us to share his experience and tips!

 

Tell us your story.

 

It all started back in 1977 as a DJ in Brooklyn, New York. I got my first paid gig on my 13th birthday, on September 10th, 1977. I had a half of a mill crate of records and I played for 8 straight hours at a block party. And the reason I know the dates so well because Labor Day weekend was September 3rd, it rained that weekend, they canceled they moved it to the next weekend and they gave me 25 bucks for Djing this party. 25 bucks. I didn’t have enough music for eight hours. So I probably played the same record six times during the course of that eight hours. And the career started from there. And then in the 80s, we met a gentleman from long island, and it may sound cocky, but we revolutionized what the MC Dj perform a market was. We were doing everybody’s events on long island. There was a company EJM entertainment that was us. And there was another company, heart to heart and some smaller companies out there. Either you had EJM or heart to heart. We were blue vest. They would red vests. It was kind of a gang back in the day.

We just owned long island, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, we were doing events for everybody in the eighties and nineties. And what always was my way of looking at things like who are we doing these events for? These are great clients, but I wanted to know more about them. And then I realized we were doing these events for captains of industry, major players in finance, major players in real estate. And they started to bring us into their corporate events too. And it was a gentlemen, that said, you’re going to do my incentive program in Puerto Rico. And I heard nothing about incentive program and heard him say Puerto Rico. And I was like, yeah, okay, let’s go. I think he gave us $5,000 to travel to Puerto Rico and we did an amazing event there and that got me into the corporate realm. Then in 2000 I took EJM, merged with another company in New Jersey, was with them 11 years and we built up another end of the business but really going more for the corporate market, understanding what that was, doing high end social look, high end corporate as well. And then in 2011 I merged with a creative agency in Los Angeles, we just parted our ways. And then in 2016 Cervelli creative started as an entity by itself. So it’s been been an incredible journey for me and I’m very lucky to say who the clients are and what we’ve done.

 

What kind of stuff are you doing these days?

 

Our business is based on high end social and corporate. So the bulk of our business is a true corporate end of the business where we’re doing an incentive program, we’re doing an opening general session. Sometimes we’re producing the whole meeting and sometimes we’re just a lane. And I think that’s something that people in our industry don’t understand. It’s okay to be a lane and that’s where we’re sort of an enigma that we are able to move into these different areas. So we were doing the social end, they brought us into the corporate end and now you’re doing both ends of it. So today, if I’m doing a corporate event for a client that I’ve had for maybe 15 years, 16 years, that were doing these events for, I may be doing the CEO’s 25th anniversary, I may be doing the son’s Bar Mitzvah, the daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. We may be doing their wedding. When you think about that, it’s amazing those bookends.

 

Let’s talk about collaboration and staying in your lane.

 

To what the latter that you just said. It’s staying there, staying there and saying, Oh, I can do it this way. It’s all right to share ideas. So if you look at this, and I think this is a big motto with me, share the wealth. So when that client calls you, let’s look at the corporate arena that may have an in house production company, maybe working with someone that’s doing their floral designs for many years, but now says, I have this incentive program. We need to entertain everybody at nighttime. We need to work together. We need to bring this wow into the event. You have this specialty so when you collaborate the right way, I could book the entertainment, I can bring in the wow, but all of a sudden I let others handle their stuff. Let’s work together with that production company. Let them handle on the back line, let them handle the riders, let them handle that stuff and we managed the process. You’re not taking away from someone that’s worked hard and maybe even been part of the program even longer than you have. Why do you have to step on toes? Let’s work together as a team. Sometimes that first experience may be, who moved my cheese because someone’s like, well, you’ve got someone new who’s over here, but if you prove to them that you want to work together collaboratively, you’ll will work a long time with those people and then what happens for them? They start recommending you.

 

Are you spending time offline with the vendors?

 

Absolutely. We do it all the time. We’ll sit here and then, get on the phone and talk to them about it because this backline rider that they need this special equipment and stuff like that. We didn’t have that last year that was in Italy. All this equipment had to be brought in that we needed for the event. So why does the client need to know all that? They’re handling that and the it, we’ll work directly with them, knew what it was. And then we wound up finding out that we were able to share some of the shipping cases that they were going to be bringing into Italy because they said can you just get it to our warehouse. We’ll put it in our case. Why do you have to pay for this too? So it’s talking, speaking together, working things out together. We all save money. Did it cost the client any more money cause that shipping container, whether it was $1,000 for one item or $1,000 for two items, it was the same cost. So we just shoved our stuff and they’re shipping container because there was room.

 

Speak to some common mistakes you’ve seen over the years.

 

If I’m working with somebody we see someone not sharing information, not coming back to us with detail and you sort of lost. I’m very honored when I hear my team came back from an event, maybe we weren’t that lane and we work with other people that may be on this event. They almost get excited when they see us. They’re like, are you managing this event? No, we’re just doing this today. Oh okay. Cause I don’t have this information. I wish I had more information. What does this event about? And the kind of lost in the process, but it’s because of where it’s coming from. If the head is able to talk to the arm and to the feet to the legs and hands, everybody will work together as a team. Don’t take off more than you could chew. A lot of times everybody’s working on this budget. They don’t have the money, well if they don’t have the money to do what they want to do properly, the process is different. You can’t just do everything, because the client doesn’t have the money. Then you have to be able to explain to your client, this is what we need. If you want this done properly and you want this done properly, we need a team. Lots of times the biggest mistake is someone’s not being a team player and just going into the event and thinking they can handle it by themselves and they’re frantic the day of the event. We have a motto in our office, don’t panic. Here is where we get the detail done and if we’re upset, be upset and say, I wish that was there, but the day of the event, that’s when you don’t panic. That’s where you get everything done correctly. The chandelier falls, go get a broom, sweep it up and go get a lamp. When you see the person that’s freaking out at the event, that means they didn’t plan properly, plan and have a good team. That’s the best way to get through.

 

How do you make an event exceptional?

 

The surprises, the moments make it exceptional. You could have great people, you can have great food and things like that, but that little moment of what everybody enjoyed together as one, is that exceptional moment. Something that they’ve experienced altogether. Not every event has entertainment and things like that, but thinking about that, if there’s something that’s gone on, something that brings it all together, that’s something that meshes it all together. A theme that works with the event, that’s when everybody’s sharing the same experience. You could go to an event and you have people in this corner, and that corner, but when they all come together, share something together, I think that’s what makes it exceptional.

 

How do you create that?

 

We can always go into an event and say, oh, this is great. This is what you should be doing and this is it. This is the easy booking. I can’t wait to book Bruno Mars one day I just want to work with in March, we’re born in Mars is not the answer for everybody, all right? Not Everybody has $1.5 million, $2 million to book Bruno Mars, but at the same time, is there a talent that you could bring in?

If you’re going into a meeting and there’s just a constant talking head on stage and going from meeting to meeting on a multi day event. We were rushed to get food. There wasn’t enough. If you give people these moments to spend time together enjoying each other’s company, then maybe they haven’t seen each other in a year, spend time, network, talk, not rush from meeting to meeting to meeting to food. Give them of those moments, those will be your most successful events out there.

 

Tell us more about the Hot List.

 

So there’s a little story. It was 2001,I was attending a conference and a gentleman got on stage, great speaker. He took out a vase, and he put the vase on the table and he clicked the little switch on it and he took out a remote control and started pressing it and the vase started changing colors. All of us in the audience went what’s that? And he goes, this is led technology. What’s led technology? We never heard such a thing. So at the end of this little conference, I walk up to him and I said, David, you’ve got to tell me I need this. I gotta bring it to New York. Where do I get this vase? He goes, call me. He wouldn’t give me the information. He wouldn’t not share where he got the vase from. Why can’t we share the wealth? Why can’t I say this is a good idea. Use it. Maybe we could share this information. So in 2002 I started something called Michael Cerbelli’s 101 hot event and entertainment ideas in 90 minutes. And I sent 101 ideas in 90 minutes and the audience went bananas. It’s 2002 I got bombarded by my industry almost beat up. How can you share this information? How dare you, you’re giving away all our trade secrets. I said, what am I giving away? I’m sharing the information. We just did the 18th annual and now it’s called the hot list in San Diego this past January. And I’ve done four speaking engagements since January 10 an, we had over 3000 people in the room wanting to get this list that I have front of me and all it is, is the 36 ideas I spoke about and their contact information. And we do this big show. The room is packed. It’s just fun entertainment, band playing on stage. And then the next hour and a half is me rambling and bringing act sound and bringing product out. But it’s sharing information, and I don’t care anymore and none of us should care anymore that we’re telling these people out there who the act is.

There’s not a dollar to me for doing this. There’s no kickback for getting booked. All we tell them, we can do two live shows a year. You got to come out in January and you’ve got to come out in June. January is the special event show and June is MPI, world education congress. I hear from people, I got a phone call three, four years later because they keep the list in their office.

 

Tell us a couple of tips for aspiring planners.

 

Start attending conferences. I was going to class. I believe that you should be networking. I believe that you should becoming part of organizations, know about all aspects. Am I the best technical director there is? Absolutely not. Do I understand most of it? Okay. I understand it. Get out there and network. Go to classes. Don’t just go to an event, a conference partying. Start learning. Attend a conference where maybe it’s not your forte. And when you go to these things, don’t think that someone’s going to just call you and say, Oh, I want to start working with you. I’m working with people that I want to work with and they’re working with people that they want to work with. We’re not working together every single day.



S. 2 Episode 12: Getting Real with an Events Planner

Shadia Tobkin is a wealth of information!  This week Charles sits down with Shadia and they start to dig a bit into her experience while staying really real. This podcast is as entertaining as it is informative and you will definitely want to check it out!

 

  • Never be above the work

    • move tables, stuff gift bags, volunteer, work under someone at your same level

  • Keep it together under all circumstances

  • Always continue to learn and push yourself out of your comfort zone

    • Say yes…. We say NO because of the fear…FEAR OF FAILING

  • You don’t have to be the expert –

    • Know the experts.

  • Be One step ahead

    • Staff check-in (Leads, shirts, instructions, lunch)

    • Visualize the entire staff and attendee flow

  • Preparation equals success: “Chance favors the prepared mind”

    • As simple as putting all of you’re on site contacts in your phone

    • Send info and have calls in advance

    • Print radio check-in lists

    • Rehearsals are as or more important than the actual meeting itself

  • Work smarter not harder

    • When something gets thrown at you, take a beat to think (don’t make rash decisions)

    • Delegation, outsourcing, staff management

    • Manage Staff

  • Partners and connections are everything

    • Surround Yourself with Good people

  • Be Real

    • Confident, kind and relatable

    • People appreciate candid conversation

  • Expectations. Expectations. Expectations.

    • Over communicate to meet expectations

 

Extra:

  • Ask the “obvious” questions

    • Ex: 9/10 times that I ask a question most people also need the answer or people assume the answer or understand the answer in different ways

 

Newbies Advice:

  • Start Talking to anyone who will listen: People know people

  • Set-up 2-3 networking meetings a week

  • Follow and comment on Event Planner Insta Pages

  • Get Experience: Help plan for your friend’s wedding or volunteer at your company to be on the “social” committee

  • Intern or work for an agency

  • Work for a vendor/décor company (lots of exposure to various clients)

  • Don’t over ask too many questions (Ask a couple and figure it out)

  • Show up EARLY! Don’t complain! Be pro-active!

S.2 Episode 11: How to Create an Event that Flows: from a Production Manager’s Perspective

Kyle Arndt, EideCom’s Production Manager takes time out of his day to sit down with Charles and Lisa. He shares from his perspective, how to create a show that flows and what goes into the details. Kyle has years of experience in the industry and with that comes many must know tips!

 

We have a special guest. We actually have the pleasure of working with them every single day here at EideCom, Kyle Arndt welcome.

 

Well the guys, thanks for having me. You know we get to, we get to hang out. We never get to hang out like this.

 

So I thought I would just start by maybe tell us a little bit about how you got into production in general, how you got into the industry.

 

So once upon a time I dreamed of being a rock star. So when I was growing up, I played guitar and then, through my first couple of years of college, we played shows every weekend. And then I ended up like realizing that I liked setting up the equipment and dealing with the equipment more than I liked playing shows. So then I started working for my friend’s bands and I traveled the world working for a bunch of different bands. And then, um, when I got sick of traveling, I joined up with a few companies in town. And then about six months after working around town, I found EideCom here. So then I’ve been on the team for the last two and a half years now.

 

Well, so let’s talk about kind of from the beginning, how do you make a great production that’s well-oiled and turns out to be very successful?

 

The holy grail to all these things is how we build a quote, how we recognize where stuff might be missing, the holes, where we need content for, how we play stuff, how many microphones we need, how we build; everything is off of any sort of schedule we can get from the client. If you’re putting on an event, make a detailed schedule or a rough schedule to start and we’ll ask questions. You know, that’s one thing we do is look through a schedule with a comb and say, hey, you know, it looks like we’re missing something here. Or it looks like you have this many people talking here. We’re going to add some, some equipment for that. We’re going to add a few microphones for this. Do you plan on having all these people speak at the podium or do you need microphones for them all? So it’s just the schedule is really the key and that kind of needs to outline the obviously the timing of things. Who speaks at what time for how long they’re speaking. If you’re working with a great production team, they’re usually asking these questions upfront. Building the schedule is different, different per scope of work. A lot of times these gala’s we do you get the information the week of or of the day of even the content shows up on a jump drive and then usually just it’s important for you putting on a show to know who your point person is with, with the product.

 

What are the importance of Comms?

 

There’s a couple of different kinds of systems. I’m mostly familiar with a product called clear, their newest stuff I think is helix net, which is a wired system. So anybody that’s sitting at the front of House table or anyone sitting backstage where their position doesn’t call them to be roaming around the room, you would just plug in there. They have like a comm unit and they can push talk to the people they need to talk to you. And it can be programmed. It doesn’t sound like a radio, Sounds like us talking right here. It’s super nice. It’s super crisp and clear. You can hear everything they’re saying. It’s super controllable. It’s programmable.

 

We always have three teams of people on comm. We always have audio, video and lighting. If we add cameras to a show, that’s another set of people. If we add the client to that, that’s another set of people. So a lot of these shows, even the bigger conferences can have up to 50 or 60 people on it.

 

Tell me about the importance, do you need it?

 

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean it’s like the last thing I’ll try to take off an estimate. When someone’s trying to cut costs, I’m like, we absolutely need this. Even if we’re all sitting next to each other, say it’s a small show if we’re all sitting next to each other, it’s better for us to be whispering to each other than yelling. The comm is insanely cool technology. We can separate everybody. So it’s these people talk to these people and then everybody connects on one channel everybody can hear this, but only people can talk down this ETC.

 

The most important things for the stage manager be doing is to make sure everybody on stage can be seen on camera. To me whenever I get to stage manage, I like to remind people, I’m like, hey, you know the cameras straight out in front of you. We have a camera over here and there’s a camera over here.

 

Like just so they know like they’re always facing forward and you know like in that part of that comes into play. Like some people do panels on stage and okay, then you’re looking at the stage managers usually in charge of setting up those debt furniture, right? So they play a big part and going where it, can this be a pit positioned on stage so we can pick up everybody nicely on camera.

 

Do rehearse the furniture?

 

Yeah, so that’s where comm comes into play because then during the setup, because usually it’s a five minute change over, but then you’re the stage manager who’s helping them set up, you’re connected on comm to the video director who’s watching, who’s physically looking at the camera shots. You got a camera operator and moving around and making sure you can see everything and they’re going, yeah that furniture needs to move. It’s not like somebody’s running back and forth and it takes more time.

 

Tell us about the show flow…

 

There’s a few things I like to do when I gather the information and this information is key. When I talk to a presenter, whether that’s a CEO, an auctioneer, or a keynote, whoever it is, I just like to say, you know, you’re supposed to speak for about this amount of time. How are you wrapping up your speech? Like what are you saying to end it, right? Cause there’s a lot of times I’m looking for a cue. I’m looking for, somebody is going to press a button at the end of this that’s going to start music, the lights are going to move and that has to happen all at the same time. So we’re looking for a vocal cue.

 

Some keynote, CEO’s, and speakers they’re very, very good about what they’re going to say. . And then at the same time, some people literally haven’t thought about it yet. They’re planning on winging it, I’m just going to go up there and talk for a little while. So I’m like, well, it would be helpful for us to just kind of know how you’re going to wrap up. How do you, how do you plan on ending this speech? Like who name five people you’re going to say thank you to or something to get to get them thinking about it because that’ll help them glue it together as well to just kind of bundle it up.

 

So that leads me to the question about rehearsals before we talk about transitions and other things like that. Like tell me about rehearsals.

 

We get the opportunity of doing a show in all different situations. When we have short rehearsal time or no rehearsal time, we can pick our team based on that. I think the most important part of rehearsal is how somebody is getting on and off stage. Because once they’re on stage, they’re going, if it’s a performance piece, it’s a little bit more involved. But if it’s a keynote, it’s like they want to know how they’re going on and off stage, what the lights are doing, where they’re walking from. We get the opportunity to figure out like how long they’re going to take to get onstage.Everyone’s walks at a different speed, if they get the opportunity to do it twice, that’s kind of in their mind like this is how I’m going to do it. Now if we cycled to a performance, they’ve got dancers and they have singers and they’re on this stage and they’re gonna move to this stage. We have the opportunity of setting up the day before for this particular gala and we’re going to run through that for probably about three hours from the night before and we’re going to get the performance piece rehearsed the night before. That way we have time to walk through anything the next day if needed, and then we get it. And then we’ll take the rest of that time the next day before the event starts to go through all the the keynote speeches.

 

From a production standpoint, we love the venue the day before. Now we understand that it increases costs and we take steps to try to minimize that. We’ll go in with a reduced crew just to get some stuff in place. Try to do a half day there. There’s ways that it doesn’t double the labor costs. There’s creative ways to figure that out. If you’re a client and you feel like you’re always running around with your head cut off an hour before the show starts, trying to get in the night before the day is going to help your show immensely.

 

We were talking about the show flow and it going well. Are there softwares or tools or do you just use a spreadsheet?

 

There is a web based program called show shoflo. It’s more or less just a spreadsheet that you update on the web so everybody can see it on their device or whatever. They can log into it and they can even follow along. So as the show goes, the timings on there and there’s a person in charge of pressing next, so you can see, okay, we did that, this is what’s coming up next.

 

When we get the opportunity to help build the show flow we tend to use a spreadsheet. That’s how a lot of our show callers have always done it.

 

How do you make sure that weird stuff doesn’t happen?

 

I just talk through a show so many times before the show. With the team, with myself, with the, with the client, with everybody. Just to make sure we got everything okay. Every piece of the transition, how something ends, what happens in between, how that person gets on stage every detail is talked through. Those small points speed everything up. They make it so it’s not awkward because it can’t cause the second it’s awkward you’re sitting at the tech table and back, everybody’s turning around looking at you and you’re like, oh, I guess it is our fault because we are running the production.

 

Tell me about like having an MC?

 

The best mcs they kind of show up and they go, Yup, I’ll go on stage whenever you guys need me. Uh, looks like there’s a script printed out. Let me know if I’m needed for anything else. The news casters around town, they’re all very good. I think the quality of a person is how involved they are in the project. That speaks with how our team works here. We try to be very involved with everything we’re doing. And then we’re invested. Same thing goes with an MC. It’s like, you know, how much are they involved with your organization, if at all?

 

You’ve done some of our shows repeatedly, do you have a level of comfortability once you’ve done it before?

 

Oh, absolutely. Every time we do a show, the second year the show goes well. The second year it’s like, we did this last year, how is it different? We’re familiar. We know the people involved. We go, okay that person’s speaking for sure they’re involved with the organization at this level so there’ll be on stage. We get to the opportunity to go into a little bit more detail. We know where are the most important people sitting.