Posted July 22, 2010 by Kelly MacDonald
A Secret Ingredient for On Stage Meeting Magic
As meeting planners we have all experienced the magic of an event that comes off flawlessly – when every A/V cue happens exactly right and people appear and leave the stage when they are supposed to; amazing presentations are couched by exciting introductions and thoughtful thank yous and the audience is enthralled throughout, laughing and applauding in all the right places.
Many of us have also been in a room too, when contributing factors cause things to not go so well… housekeeping notes that go on and on; poorly delivered introductions; thank yous that forget the sponsor; an afternoon of Regional VP presentations – when everyone would rather be on the golf course; av issues that require a re-ordering of those presentations; a fire alarm that actually requires that we all leave the building!; or a horrifically boring panel and we still have an hour to go!; a question from the audience that is really a five minute statement and is cutting into lunch!; too many awards; acceptance speeches that involve family members joining them on the stage!; people starting to leave and you paid big $ for the closing entertainment act!!!
Enter the professionals – the Conference Host, the Panel Moderator; the Celebrity Interview, the Awards Emcee.
My favourite is The Conference Host, an individual, often a corporate comedian, who delegates can relate to immediately and causes them to relax, because now they know everything will be fun and move along well, “…because this person cares about me and my experience”. The meeting planner also shares that feeling as the professional Conference Host answers directly to her or him and will adhere to their every wish, throughout – they will bring up the energy in the room and maintain it!; they’ll help with changes made on the fly, making the crowd laugh while a staging issue is being sorted; collaborating on a creative way to send off a retiring President or to welcome a new one, etc., etc., etc., – they will help you to make “meeting magic”!
Or how about a Conference Host who can not only introduce, underline and summarize content, but provide some of their own!? Two very different and able hosts, session leaders and keynote speakers are: Mark Jeffries, Ron Tite.
And last but not least, we have the very unique Paul Huschilt who can not only host but parody the entire event in song and dance at the end!
Next is the professional Panel Moderator. Many see panels as a necessary evil when they can truly be so much more! Hiring a broadcast journalist to moderate a panel can change audience expectation from “anticipated apathy at best” to one of excitement and can actually draw attendance!
First they lend the event their celebrity and then on-site, they lend their expertise. A broadcast journalist is used to keeping to tight timelines, staying focused on the topics of interest, and entertaining the audience. Panellists themselves will feel compelled to be at their best in the company of a professional and the moderator will guide them in a way that raises the level of their participation on the stage. They will relate items to current issues of the day. They’ll pose interesting questions, inspire audience participation, and field their questions expertly… suddenly your business panel becomes an industry forum, more likely to be written about and remembered.
Another great way to use a Journalist to spice up your program is to create a celebrity interview. Perhaps your company has a new President or you’re introducing a new product or company initiative, the celebrity interview is a great way to communicate change in an interesting way to employees, clients or members. Today, people crave authenticity, and the interview, “In Conversation with”, format with two comfortable chairs on a stage, and people conversing rather than presenting… with the audience invited to ask a few questions at the end is a fabulous way to provide it.
Lastly, we come to the Awards Gala and the tremendous challenge of acknowledging everyone appropriately while keeping an audience happy for two hours or more! The introduction of Awards and winners, the distribution of plaques, handshake and photo; the acceptance speeches, the tribute videos and special presentations… It’s all wonderfully well intended and necessary but even the tightest scripting and well paced program can begin to come off the rails when a list of people come on stage to experience their moment of fame. Two hours can become much more! A Professional Emcee can again help break up the program with well timed entertainment breaks, they can provide fun introductions of awards and they can involve the audience throughout. It makes all the difference in the world – creating on stage “Meeting Magic”.
Call us for ideas for your next event!!
For more information, please contact Speakers’ Spotlight.