I’ve been emceeing for 10 years now covering many different types of events from Kindergarten Shows to Product Launches to Dinner & Dance to Campaigns to Community Events. That pretty much covers the whole entire spectrum of what one could get when they embark on their emceeing journey. I even coached other emcees.
Emceeing plays an important role for the organisers as you are the face of the organisers and you basically represent them which is why picking a good emcee is always important simply because YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE MISREPRESENTED.
But that’s what happened to me just last week when I had perhaps misrepresented a client.
Truth be told, this was the first emceeing gig I did without having a good understanding of the client. Usually, I’d have a sit-down meeting with the client to learn more about them, their values as well as who their audience will be and to get a good sense of what to expect from the audience. This is my research phase (YES! Being a good emcee requires some form of research first).
This research phase also includes me tailoring my style of delivery as well as games/activities that need to be conducted to ensure that it is suitable for the audience.
But last week, I met the client just about an hour before the event. This was out of my comfort zone because I was engaged by an events management company and wasn’t provided with the information I required but since I was quite familiar with the audience profile (or so I thought), I knew I could get a homerun with this but boy was I wrong.
The audience profile had changed so much!
When years ago, the audience would have been the rowdy type, this time, it was nowhere near rowdy. Crowd was reserved and wasn’t the type that would poke fun at one another, not at anyone, AT ALL.
Definitely out of my comfort zone and I knew that the games/activities I had prepared could either make it or break it. There was no safe zone in my games/activities and I didn’t have enough time to prepare a different set of games/activities because I needed to be in focus (This is why having someone you trust as an assistant is important, they will help you think of something else while you focus for the stage).
I’d say the whole night started out pretty well although we started 15 minutes late because guests were being reseated elsewhere. Energy was the audience was not too bad, a little low but it could be built up and we kicked off the night with a birthday celebration of someone from the audience.
Dinner came and I had hoped that by feeding the audience first, they’d have some energy to play. Well, they always do! Food always helps to make people happy. So, the first game played and this is when everything seems to go wrong for me. Participants were a bit too perfectionists and too shy to play. It’s really an easy game to play, don’t need to think too much because you’re supposed to in no other better word, “Just Do It!” but we got through the first game well enough.
Long silences on stage because participants didn’t want to start – we know that’s not too good but the emcee can’t be speaking too much either because the focus is on the game right now. No worries on this one.
Break for food and then second segment.
This is when everything just went horribly wrong with the second game. This game has been played many times, over and over again, the participants usually more enthusiastic and the crowd goes wild on this game. NO – total opposite.
Giving credit when due – first line of participants were responsive but the moment the next group of participants, all hell broke loose for me. They were too worried and too shy.
Now, this is when it gets a bit difficult for any emcee because you can’t just stop the games and you just can’t change the game (well, you could but that’s why knowing how the audience is like initially will prepare you sufficiently for it). So, this whole segment goes on for a good 30 minutes or so, which is considered to be A LONG TIME but that’s what I was asked to do anyway – to stretch the segment.
Games are always good to be kept at 15-20 minutes max. Any longer and the audience bores out.
At this point, I was ready to throw in the towel and just stop everything but I knew that it would just suck too much from there so I held on and continued telling myself, “Let’s just try to get them to cooperate for this and then we’re done”, the same way I’d talk to my students who are super naughty and under the watchful eyes of their teachers who hate them for their guts.
Apparently, this strategy worked and the game moved on and completed but the audience wasn’t as thrilled and the energy died out a bit. Thankfully, there was one last segment which couldn’t go wrong because it was the highlight of the entire night.
That ran smoothly at least.
By the end of the night, I was demoralised and the weather was a good expression of how I was feeling – WET, COLD and RAINING.
But this episode taught me a few things now that I’ve had a few days to think it through and talk it out to myself and a few other people that have worked with me, have seen me emcee and have engaged me (clients):
- I’ve NEVER FAILED in emceeing before. So, having this failure is a huge dent to what I’ve always enjoyed doing.
- Whatever I’ve always done, before the day itself is crucial. The research and preparation work. The need to sit down with the client to understand them or at least have as much information as possible on the programme and activities. THIS CANNOT BE LEFT OUT.
- On bigger occassions such as this, have your trusted assistant with you to help you mitigate and think through of other strategies that you could work on while you’re on stage delivering.
- Most importantly, if you don’t think it’s a good idea to do it. Then don’t. I’m not saying don’t try though.
Regardless, this was a good humbling experience for me and though it had me questioning my ability to emcee, I think I’m convinced that this was just one of those times where you just gotta fall and learn to pick yourself back up again.
Well, I’ve fallen down and now, I’m sitting down thinking about it. It just sucks because just like that, I lost two other emceeing jobs though I guess I shouldn’t be complaining because it might have just been worst for me.
I hope the one who took over me can do a better job though!
At the end of the day, 10 years of emceeing is clearly not good enough. Time to get back out there and learn more.
At least I’ve got this costume to hide behind for a while now when I’m on stage.