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.
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