it does really matter to have a great host in any events – specially for presentations. All this while until a few years ago, I thought Host/Hostess at the presentation would only introduce the speaker and end the meeting as appropriate. However, Hosts do a lot beyond this. What other things Hosts perform.
–> Ensure the lighting is right for both presenter and the host
–> ensure speaker’s accessibility needs taken care
–> welcome and greet both speaker and the guests as they enter
–> talk to few early birds at the meeting, about the speaker
–> when presenter is already inside the room, ensure to give all the time he needs and not steal away their time
–> Provide absolutely great credibility to the speaker. The way people listen to the presenter, most of the time, also depends on how the speaker was introduced at the first place
–> after speaker ends the presentation, make a decent transition to either another speaker or if the meeting is being ended, help speaker make a great exit from the podium and conclude as appropriate
I started thinking about these more and more due to a recent experience at one of the events. These are the things the Host did and it was very very distractive to the audience. Most people in the audience also expressed their (dis-)satisfaction after the meeting that the host was wasting a lot of time on podium.
1. Laptop computer: Being technical savvy is great. having a computer in hand might make you look great. But it was at the same time very distractive. She had her introductory lines typed in. I am not sure if she was promoting Apple mac-book there 🙂 As she would come to the podium, she would also bring the computer over and try to adjust the microphone set so it doesn’t blocks her view to the computer screen. No, the computer was NOT used to project anything while she was at the podium. She would scroll down her notes, and apparently scroll down too much and not knowing where she had stopped and going back and forth before hundreds of people in the room.
oh, after introducing the speaker, the person would take the laptop aside and sit on the staircase and start doing something with computer again. I don’t know if that person realized, but since the room was dark except the podium spot, audience could see the host/hostess’ facial expression while being worked on the laptop computer there.
Moral: Technical gadgets are great, but ensure it does not distract you or the speaker and the audience
2. Being Nervous: Yes, not everyone was born with a boon of not having the stage fear. pretty much everyone has the butterflies in their stomach when they get on the podium. Audience was able to sense that the hostess was nervous a bit – and the self disclosure/disclaimer was also made about nervousness, but it doesn’t have to be told every few minutes the host/hostess is on podium. It only emphasizes more while he/she is on podium and takes away other thoughts and the flow while the nervousness keeps lingering in the mind and only those words are repeated over and over again.
Key: It is ok to disclose about nervousness once, but do not repeat the same again and again.
3. Time on Podium: Understood it is a great opportunity to be on stage before hundreds of people. But if you are a host, ensure you are not taking as much time as the speech would take. Do not spend too much time on the stage. K.I.S.S (Keep it Short and Simple)
5. Smooth Entry and Exit for speaker: Keep an introduction to an extent of providing positive credibility to the speaker and not make it pages and pages or hours and hours to it. Ensure there is an arrangement made to take the speaker from podium safely. There could be darker ambience towards the sides of the stage and speaker might need some help getting off from the bright light to the darker side.
6. Personal Stories: Give out your personal stories if it is appropriate or if it is absolute necessary and if you would like to share personal stories that provides credibility to the speaker, and your positive experience with the speaker or if it is some humor that you would like to share while speaker is on the way to the meeting, so that audience can be engaged with some entertainment.
7. Q&A: Facilitate question and answer session. At times Speaker might prefer to take questions offline and so mention about it. But do not take away the Q&A session and replace with your photo session with the speaker. Oh, Yes! this has happened at this recent event. Host was busy taking pictures with the speaker on the stage, and audience were left out, audience were disappointed for not having the Q&A session. Their response was, at least 2 to 4 questions would have been great instead of hosts taking pictures for 15 minutes on the podium. A short Q&A would have taken approximately about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the context.
It makes me think about these other perspectives now that I have been involved in Toastmasters program more and more and really helps to understand such Do’s and Don’ts for some of the meeting etiquettes.