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The Stamina of Hosting

Hosting a corporate event can take tremendous stamina. Sometimes you're up and down on the stage 20-30 times.

I've had events that were all day for 3 straight days. To have the energy to emcee for that long can be draining. You need to speak clearly and precisely every time you are up there, and often improvise many lines.

Often there are script changes at the last minute. I’ve had times where I was hosting, and I had a new script every time I went on stage.

You have to be energetic, and always ready as a master of ceremonies. It can be the hardest part of the job sometimes. Everyone else gets to sit down and relax – not you. It’s a mental and physical workout.

Sometimes when you have just traveled across the country, it takes extra stamina, and that may be required that day, or that night. You’re not always flying in a full day early. You may have to host a full day on very little sleep. I find that stretching and breathing for a long time before the event helps a lot. Eating a full meal, with lots of protein helps as well. Some people love coffee, although that can backfire and you can crash.

I’ve been a host for three day long corporate events several times. I’ll try to workout or stretch even during the brief breaks that you get at lunchtime or in the afternoon. Generally they will have a seat for you offstage which is important as you’ll be on your feet so much throughout the day.

Being an emcee can be a challenge because you must have the same energy every time you hit the stage. The crowd can get tired, you cannot. That’s also the thrill though – you have improved peoples’ day and have helped make the event a memorable experience

Preparation as a Corporate MC

There’s a lot to be done once you’re booked as a corporate MC. You have to gather all the information from the company about the who, what, when, and where. Any jokes you’ll tell, or anecdotes have to be specific and relevant. The company is hiring you in part for your skill with this task.

A joke at a corporate event has so many parameters – the tone, the style, and the content are often very restricted. It is much narrower in what you can do than in a nightclub or comedy club. Often times, you have nowhere to practice these jokes or stories. It’s unlike a comedy club where you can practice dozens of times before an important show.

So your feel for what is right must be very intuitive and honed over years of hosting. A lot of it is just from having done hundreds of them in the past.

Some of it is the detailed information the corporation or organization gives you: Have they told you who’s in charge and what their personality is like? Do you know the purpose of the event and how many years or months it’s been going? Many events are annual and they will be comparing you to the previous years. It’s your job to make it as good or better.

Often times you must improvise as the emcee. Improvising can be dangerous – if the wrong thing is said, you can’t go back and undo it. Just another reason experience is important. Usually you can feel the right time to improvise and how to improvise.

Notes, or a teleprompter, may be provided for a corporate emcee. But be advised, the content is almost always changed. And a teleprompter gets stuck all the time. So again, improvisation is important. If you are asking questions to panelists, or to someone receiving an award, you will not know their response anyway so again improvisation is your only option.

What if you need to memorize what you’re going to say? Sometimes you have to. That depends on your style. Sometimes an emcee will write down bullet point style notes and then keep going over them until the lines are permanently in his head. Sometimes the emcee will print out verbatim his script and will just memorize one paragraph at a time. It can be a very tedious and time consuming part of preparation.

If you’d like to review your performance that can be tricky too. Many corporate events don’t want anything filmed. They have private information about the company they don’t want shown, or they only want held internally. If you did film certain clips with your cell phone, generally it wouldn’t be worthy of putting it on your website – audio is just as important as video and the audio quality would be poor. Filming takes professional equipment including being mic’d up and having that mic synced up with a professional camera.

Dress as an Event Emcee

There’s often not an official dress code when you get hired as a host, or emcee. Usually you should dress at least as formal as your audience, if not more so. A suit is always a good bet. If where you are at is business casual, or completely casual, a suit will still look great.

Men’s fashion has become simpler over time. Ties are often not necessary, and you can sometimes get away with wearing a collared shirt with rolled up sleeves. Even an incredibly conservative company, will often have a loose dress code. But you should dress to look sharp and professional. It’s definitely extra work.

I’ve never found a reliable way to show up with my clothes looking neat right out of the suitcase. Every “trick” I’ve learned online to do that seems to fail miserably. “Roll your clothes into a ball” some of them say. Then you wind up with wrinkles up and down the entire length of the clothing. You’d have better luck just tossing them haphazardly into your suitcase.

Your clothes should fit perfectly. Not only will it look better, it will serve you well during a long day or night where you are hosting for many hours, and need to be comfortable.

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