The most precious things in speech are the pauses. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Two weeks ago, I hosted our bi-annual employee forum in the office. It was short notice. I was asked to do the hosting just 2 or 3 days before the event. I couldn’t say no because it was someone close who had asked me to do it as a favor. I couldn’t even start with my draft script so I decided to ask a good friend for advice. My friend gave me very brief pointers which made it easier for me to construct what I want to say. Although I decided to keep my script simple, her advice became my guidelines while writing my spiel. I am happy to let you know that, despite being a newbie to this kind of activity, everything went smoothly and no embarrassment happened.
After the experience, I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips about hosting or emceeing. But since I am no expert and I can hardly think of any advice, I had to ask my good friend, once again, to share her experiences. I am very fortunate to know someone who I believe is an expert in this field of public speaking. I am referring to Kynah Genson, a high school classmate. Even back then, Kynah was a very good speaker. She has good command of the English language and words just flows naturally out of her mouth. Confidence emanates from her. She is a nursing graduate but her passion is communication. She previously worked as a disc/radio jockey in a local radio station in Cebu. Right now, she is an active member of the Qatar Toastmasters Club and has won trophies from different speech competitions. She is also one of the hosts of SnapTV, an online media platform in Qatar. I got in touch with her and asked her some questions about her experience in hosting. Upon reading her answers, I realized that an expert and a newbie will always have something in common. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, scroll down below and hopefully pick up some useful tips when you decide to give hosting a try.
1. Can you describe how you felt during your first hosting/emcee gig?
“My first emceeing experience was when I was in Kindergarten and we had a big program for the whole school. I didn’t feel so nervous because I practiced my script more than 50 times and I din’t even know what “nervous” meant at that age. But these days, I feel anxious every time, no matter how many times I have done it before.”
2. How do you react when your audience acts negatively to your skits/adlibs? (eg: frowning, head shaking, etc.)
“I don’t react obviously on stage. I just take a mental picture in my head of their negative response and when I get home I constantly think about it before going to bed. I don’t stop thinking about it until I figure out what I did wrong. And when I figure it out, I find myself another hosting gig and try to correct my mistakes. I don’t stop til I get it right or at least get the right reaction.”
3. How do you feel when waiting for the program to start? Do you feel nervous? When you feel nervous how do you calm yourself?
“Now that I am an adult and I know what embarrassment and rejection feels like, I ALWAYS get nervous before a hosting gig. Even days before the actual day. Hours before the event, I get nauseated and restless no matter how experienced I am. To release this tension I try to gag in the toilet before I go on stage. LOL”
4. Have you ever experienced a stage fright?
“Stage fright and mental block have been my constant companions for as long as I can remember. I always feel scared and I always forget my lines. I may look very confident on the outside, but inside it feels like there is a hurricane of butterflies in my stomach, a whole set of drums banging on my chest, monkeys smashing cymbals in my ear, and tiny little insects running up and down my throat. Experience will teach you to tame these monsters.”
5. Have you ever embarrassed yourself on stage by mispronouncing a word or when introducing a speaker?
“I don’t remember mispronouncing a word so terribly. But I always embarrass myself by forgetting my script and not saying anything for at least a minute. Mental block is my biggest enemy. In fact, I’m traumatized by it. In almost all my presentations, I would have a moment of long awkward silence. But forgetting my lines has become a part of my presentations/gigs and I have now learned to work my way around it.”
6. What do you usually wear when hosting/emcee-ing?
“It depends on the occasion. If its a wedding, I wear something formal, If it’s a beach event, I wear casual clothes. The tip is to blend in and yet subtly stand out.”
7. Do you write your own script? If you do, do you have someone to proofread it?
“I have always written my own script. It is because I know the words that I am comfortable saying and some expressions that I know I can pull off. I proofread my own script and to this day, I still admit to plenty of grammatical errors.”
8. Do you insert humor in your script?
“Humor was one of the hardest aspect of hosting for me in the beginning. Some people are just naturally funny. I’m not that person. I had to “learn” how to be funny. When I first tried using humor, I wrote and practiced the punchlines, so I get it right. It was very awkward. After a while, I learned to study my audience and the jokes came naturally. The best technique I learned was don’t laugh at your own jokes, especially before you finish telling it. So that, when nobody laughs, it’s not too embarrassing.”
9. How often do you receive words of appreciation or complement when hosting? How about negative feedback?
“People have been nice so far. I rarely receive negative comments, more on constructive comments. I try to work on those areas of improvement.”
10. What words of wisdom can you say to someone who will be hosting for the first time?
“My tip is– be nervous. Don’t fight that feeling because it is normal. Even the most seasoned public speakers and emcees still feel nervous before a presentation or event.It is that energy that will make you strive to become better each time you stand infront a group of people. When you become accustomed to the butterflies in your stomach, you would want more of them!”