Virtual Emcee

A Successful Virtual Event Includes an Emcee

When Centrifuge first called me for an opportunity to emcee a virtual event in late 2020, I was just a few months removed from my nearly 7-year career in television news and was actively hunting for my post-journalism adventure.

“A virtual event? Sounds interesting,” I told Jack McDonald and Chris Dahnke over the phone. I had never emceed a virtual event before, but I knew my TV news experience would come in handy (they did, too).

At the time I had no idea just how much my background as a reporter and anchor would be utilized over the course of that four-day product launch. And now, I can’t imagine a successful virtual (or hybrid) event of any kind without an emcee, particularly someone with a background like mine. A bold and self-promoting statement, I know – but hear me out.

The list of benefits for involving a trained TV journalist as an emcee/host/moderator (all relatively the same) is extensive. An obvious pro is that we have the skillset for speaking into a camera with that classic news anchor cadence and annunciation.

There’s a handful of less obvious, but possibly more important, reasons we will elevate an event and make it a truly memorable experience for the audience and presenters – all translatable from the 6 o’clock evening news:

Much like moving a broadcast along between the hard and light stories, reporters, sports and weather, a TV anchor-turned emcee will carry the burden of transitioning between speakers and content. This alleviates the responsibility from presenters and allows them to focus on the reason they’re there, nothing more.

Adlibbing is something TV reporters and anchors do frequently – whether it’s at a breaking news scene or in studio as we converse with our co-anchor and meteorologist, we know how to provide seamless commentary and conversation on live TV. This will make your interactions between the emcee and speakers feel authentic and fluid, keeping the audience interested.

Adlibbing abilities come into play again with time management, unexpected tech problems and real time questions, updates and announcements. Broadcasters are trained to roll with on-the-fly instructions from their producer using their earpiece (IFB), sometimes while live on-air. Cue: ‘This just in!’ What if a presenter wraps up early? Or there’s a tech glitch with someone’s camera? An attendee submits a question? No worry, we’ll adlib to keep everything moving along smoothly.

Virtual fatigue is the worst. An emcee acts as a ‘breath’ between long presentations, retaining attendee attention and giving everyone a moment to take in what they just heard to or watched before moving on.

A good TV journalist is a storyteller, not only reciting the facts but doing it in a way that evokes emotion and connection with the viewer. We know how to drive home a theme, attitude or brand message with our tone and inflection, word choice and even body language.

At the root of everything a journalist does is ask questions. As someone who is external to the client company, we can pose questions that internal leadership may not think of. We are also trained to ask follow-up questions when we feel they’re appropriate or necessary, which can clarify information and reinforce the event theme or brand message.

Last but not least, journalists are all about truth and perfection. My favorite J-school professor drilled a motto into our heads before sending us out in the world: “Don’t assume. Get it right. No cliches.” I commit to these three – even the cliches – with my client. Akin to conducting thorough research for a news story, I will spend time getting to know you, your mission and your people – from titles to name pronunciations to product facts and company history.

An emcee like me (toot toot!) is an invaluable investment. The virtual world isn’t going away any time soon – plus, all these benefits apply to a hybrid/partially-remote event as well.

I love working with Centrifuge and its clients, and I’d be thrilled to get involved with your next event if I’m available. If not me, then we can supply another fantastic emcee by combing through our curated database of former TV news folks.

If you are seeking strategic event communications solutions, contact us at
Madeline David

Madeline David