From an audience perspective, one can speculate and answer this immediately. The fine qualities of a host or an emcee and how the audience perceive us is just the tip of the iceberg.
Have you ever seen what goes on behind the stage or runway of a fashion show? Chaos! This applies to even the most organized events. For smaller events, there are very few talents to coordinate, props to handle, stage coordination and direction but still a lot of things may be unexpected during a live event or show. All this is basically what hosts have to deal with sometimes.
Directors or organizers request that all talents be present during orientation so everyone’s aligned and aware of movements, queues, changes and everything else that will go on. As THE HOST, our role is to be on top of everything so the audience can be walked through the program audibly, visually with the whole experience. We’re expected to bring energy since we have initial contact with the audience. We have the responsibility to get their attention and maintain it the entire time. Entertainment is a bonus, and definitley stretching adlibs are the clincher.
A great host is very fluid with sequences, mixing script and adlib with a dash of entertainment and A LOT of focus. Not everyone can wing it. It needs total awareness of the program, the premises, the pace and energy. You don’t just read off a script, you don’t just blabber what comes to mind. You also have to be tasteful and classy enough to throw a line that audience of different ages, race, nationality, religion and sex would be able to accept. Some events may have a specific target group which is easier but there are still some differences you have to consider. A great host also has to have that commanding presence, a confidence that will set him/her apart. A smile that is contageous and sincere goes a long way but you also have to have something more to give like smart or witty lines.
Movement is also a factor. Standing stiff and knowing where to put your hands also determine a confident host. If you’re the animated type of host, big movements are fine but this sometimes signify panic and tension. When your hands start expressing more than your words, it is distracting to an audience. Gliding comfortably around the stage when needed makes the audience’s visual dynamic. If you have a big stage, a great host might use it depending on the type of event he/she is doing. Managing a co-host on stage is a different story and will tackle this on my next blog.
A crowd as big as 1000 eyes are watching and a great host would be able to make the illusion that he/she is looking into each and every one of them. Connecting to everyone (verbally and emotionally) is a big responsibility but THAT is the main goal. In experience, a smaller crowd to address is more difficult because you have to manage your energy. The connection you make to a crowd of 20 needs a more powerful approach and you know within yourself that your main goal is to make a difference with everyone, and you would think it’s easy to attain?
Put yourself in our shoes for a moment…
A great host is confident but not arrogant. He/she should be comfortable and enjoys this job, otherwise you come off rather incencere.
After all this, a great host needs to conserve his energy still and manage not to lose his priced possesion for the job, the voice. After a good 3 hours (average), a host has spent their voice and energy. I have learned different remedies to make recovery faster and just like athletes, its science.
The Host or Emcee may not matter as much as their main acts of a show or event but you will notice the difference between the good, the great and the bad ones.
I wake up for this, looking forward to my next gig. Eagerly waiting to meet strangers that won’t remember me. Smiles that fade an hour after. I wear my best clothing that should’t outshine the celebrants or the main attraction. We are the first and last person you normally see see in these events.
What makes a great host? The one with heart.