You’re planning your next virtual event, it’s just a case of lining up suitable presenters for each session, right? Not quite. A virtual event host is every bit as essential as one would be at an in-person event held at a venue. Those attending your virtual event need to be drawn in, need to be guided through the sessions, will need reminders of what is expected of them. Without a host, your virtual corporate event will fall flat.
What role does a host play?
The host is essentially the thread that runs through the event. From the initial welcome and running through the agenda to session introductions, the host keeps everything moving and is key to providing context and shape to the overall event. Importantly, they are also there to take care of ‘housekeeping’ – putting attendees at ease, letting them know what to expect in each session and how and when they can participate. They can add pace and energy throughout the day, build anticipation for a key speaker session and so on. The host might also pick up on questions and messages that are posted through the day or give some reaction to audience polls. Similarly, they might act as a moderator in a Q&A session. So, whilst they may be working to a script, they can also respond dynamically to what happens during the various sessions.
Who makes a good virtual event host?
Here’s the bit where certain colleagues will choose to hide under their desks, refuse to engage over a Zoom call or pretend that they’ll be on holiday – whatever date you say!
A good host will be an excellent brand ambassador for your company. They should be a familiar face within the business, someone who is respected, most likely someone who holds a senior role within the organisation. Whether they’ve hosted an event before or this is the first time, preparation will be all important. They will need an in-depth understanding of what your virtual event needs to achieve, how the day will unfold, exactly what they need to do and when, as well as understanding what communication tools are available to attendees during each session.
Assuming you’re working with an event management company to deliver your virtual event, your host will be supported on a technical level to ensure they are relaxed and confident on the day. Access to a virtual green room will mean your host can communicate directly with the production team and receive their cues. Meanwhile, the tech team will take care of pressing the right buttons so when the host introduces a session, the transition will be seamless and nothing for the host to worry about.
How about booking a celebrity virtual event host?
A big name will always generate interest and excitement, it will certainly help guarantee a high level of attendance. Many celebrities are regulars on the events circuit – household names such as Dara O’Briain, Lenny Henry, Hugh Dennis and Sally Phillips to name just a few – and positively shine when giving after-dinner speeches and the like. They know how to perform, they will surely be perfect for the role.
On the face of it, it’s a great idea. But a celebrity host can actually detract from the main messages you want to convey, which will be counterproductive. Imagine, for instance, booking a popular comedian to host your virtual event – they’re probably going to throw in a few jokes here and there to keep things moving along because that’s what they do. Unfortunately, the links from one session to another will be what delegates are thinking about most and, therefore, will undermine the business element of the event.
Celebrity hosts absolutely do add real value to virtual events – we’ve worked with a number of big names, including impressionist Rory Bremner, and know that their presence can really elevate the experience. But we believe they are generally more effective for awards ceremonies and social events where the focus is less on corporate messaging and more on celebration and employee wellbeing.
So if you’re planning a virtual corporate event don’t forget to also start your hunt for a great host. Get them on board as early as you can so that they understand the aims and objectives of the event and are comfortable with the role they will play in helping to deliver them.
Are you planning your next corporate event?
If you are planning an event – virtual or live – why not talk to a member of our team? We have the event planning and management experience, creativity and technological expertise to make your next event your best yet! Contact us at email@example.com or talk to us today on 01932 22 33 33