5 Lessons from Hosting 200+ Virtual Events in 365 Days
To virtual emcee or not to virtual emcee, that is the question… or whatever Shakespeare said. With virtual events on the rise over the past year, dozens of companies are wondering whether or not a virtual emcee is beneficial for events like conferences, keynotes, and team retreats. The answer is a total, resounding YES!
Virtual emcees are an event planner’s gateway into the homes — and hearts — of virtual event attendees. They’re a bridge to organically guide attendees through event material, rather than shuffling viewers from one breakout room to the next. Virtual emcees engage viewers at home, so they feel like an actual part of your event and not just another number on the screen.
A virtual emcee is essential for maintaining interest and high energy through the duration of your event. Having served as a virtual host for more than 200+ virtual events over the past year, let me give you the rundown on what exactly a virtual emcee does and why one may be your key to your best virtual events yet.
First Things First: What is a Virtual Emcee?
Before we dive into why a virtual emcee is the secret sauce for a successful virtual event, let’s get back to the basics. ‘Emcee’ is short for Master of Ceremonies. Commonly abbreviated as MC (yes, like MC Hammer), the primary role of the Master of Ceremonies is to introduce key speakers or entertainers, as well as segue between event segments.
While it doesn’t take years of schooling to become a Master of Ceremonies, like it would for a doctor or lawyer, it certainly takes a ton of first-hand experience. That’s because beyond the core roles of an emcee, a virtual host also monitors the chat stream, fills in gaps between presenters with dialogue or skits, and keeps the energy in the meeting room alive.
A professional virtual emcee knows how to engage the audience at home to add insights, comedic relief, and most importantly, value. An experienced emcee effortlessly transitions between event items to engage the audience at home with direct-to-you entertainment. In other words, an emcee is the glue that keeps virtual events together.
How Does a Virtual Emcee Benefit Virtual Events?
Let’s be real: It can be difficult to replicate the palpable energy of a live crowd through a computer screen. However, it’s certainly not impossible. This is where a virtual emcee comes in. A virtual emcee turns up the dial on virtual corporate or business events, to draw attendees deeper into the material and closer to one another — even digitally.
After hosting more than 200 virtual events from March 2020 through March of 2021, I’ve interacted with thousands of people across departments, area codes, and even time zones. Here are the lessons I’ve learned for why a virtual emcee is paramount for the best virtual events.
1. They Get the Show On the Road
What do you do if your virtual event was supposed to start at 6 p.m., but your first speaker is having technical difficulties? Even worse, how do you entertain the 500+ people in your waiting room while you figure out what to do about your late speaker? You guessed it: Have your virtual emcee get the show on the road.
The beauty of a virtual emcee is their versatility. Before the event even begins, a virtual emcee can greet viewers in the waiting room to explain the workings of the platform, like how to send chat messages or transition between breakout rooms. If the speakers or entertainers for the event aren’t quite ready come showtime, a virtual emcee can kick-off the broadcast, greet viewers, and provide an overview of the upcoming material.
A virtual emcee can also work with speakers or entertainers behind the scenes to help them prepare for their segment. The emcee can approve technical details prior to speakers taking the stage to help avoid annoying delays in programming. After all, there’s nothing worse than losing viewers because of an easily preventable A/V issue.
2. They Connect the Audience to the Material
Whether you’re hosting a private virtual team-building event or a public keynote address, it’s to be expected that the audience members signing up will have some inkling about what you’re discussing. But it’s important to remember that existing background knowledge alone cannot and will not make an audience member care about your virtual event. For viewers to actually connect with your material, it will need to feel a bit personal.
Enter the virtual emcee! A key role of the virtual emcee is to draw connections between the audience and the event material. This can be done through a variety of ways, from engaging in chat discussions to live Q&As. Virtual emcees can even add content beyond what was included in the event schedule to further create parallels between the subject matter and the people listening. The result? An audience that cares about the material being discussed and wants to actively participate in your virtual event.
3. They Keep Viewers Engaged (and Excited)
Speaking of chat discussions, it’s no secret that a great deal of attention during virtual events will be paid to the chatroom. Without the typical hallway track or watercooler chats that occur organically during in-person events, virtual events rely heavily on chats. Luckily, a virtual emcee can leverage that to the event’s advantage rather than letting the comments section explode untamed.
A virtual emcee can enter the comments section to ask questions, highlight quotes, or even generate a giggle while another speaker or entertainer presents. They can stir up the comments section to spark a friendly debate among viewers. They can even direct virtual Q&A sessions or announce audience poll results to keep the audience experience fresh. By navigating both the live stream and the chat stream, a virtual emcee can keep viewers engaged and excited for what’s to come.
4. They Transition Between Segments with Laughter
You might have heard a lot about “lunch and learns” in the corporate world, but a virtual emcee’s job is to present a “laugh and learn.” After all, it’s a bit hard to take notes over the sound of your own chewing, right? Soon the audience is distracted by the spinach in a presenter’s tooth… and the whole thing just goes downhill from there.
In comparison, a “laugh and learn” with a virtual emcee gets the genuinely energized — sans dental disasters. That means we provide some well-timed humor to renew the energy in the livestream and keep viewers’ minds open for whatever information is up next.
They also introduce content of their own that transitions between segments with laughter. Science says you retain more information when you’re actually enjoying the content, and those “feel good chemicals” that are produced by laughing can boost an audience’s learning speed. From clean comedy material to juggling acts, virtual emcees can do it all.
5. They Bring Potential Live Event Attendees into the Funnel
Frequent event planners will want to listen up for the fifth lesson I’ve learned from the 200+ shows I’ve hosted this past year. Get this: A virtual emcee can encourage viewers even further down the funnel! That means more audience members, more excitement, and ultimately, more profit. Let me explain what I mean by that.
After a phenomenal experience with a virtual emcee, a viewer becomes interested in your brand as a whole. They’ve attended your stellar virtual event and now they want more. They want that in-person, physical connection. So, the next time they see you’ll be live — hopefully with an emcee! — they’ll be pressing ‘Purchase Ticket’ faster than you can buy swag bags.
Top Qualities to Look for in a Virtual Emcee
So, now that you know just how much value an emcee can add to a virtual event, you’re likely trying to decide what sets an average host apart from an awesome host. For starters, you don’t just want to look for a basic Master of Ceremonies. You want to look for a professional virtual emcee who boasts robust experience, glowing reviews, and the ability to be a partner, not just a host.
Qualities to look for in a virtual emcee include:
- The willingness to think on their feet
- High-energy and a vibrant personality
- A natural storyteller and easy conversationalist
- Access to their own studio and production team
- A set of clean comedy material ideal for a variety of audiences
Remember, the best virtual events center around an emcee who can engage and entertain the audience throughout the entire event and be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice.
Need a Virtual Emcee? I Know a Guy!
The best virtual events deserve the best virtual emcee — and that’s me! Don’t believe me? Well, I’ve produced and headlined my own one-man clean comedy show in Las Vegas for the last 10 years with Caesars Entertainment, I’ve been dubbed “Entertainer of the Year” by Vegas Inc., and I’ve completed more than 200+ virtual events since March 2020. If I’m a Master of anything, it’s definitely Ceremonies.
If you’ve been wondering if a virtual emcee is worth it, this is your sign that you shouldn’t wait to hire one. My availability is filling fast, so don’t wait! Book me today for your next virtual event and we’ll turn it into your best virtual event yet.