Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hosting 101

Hosting’s my way of indulging the spotlight-loving side of me. I find it hard to believe myself considering I was as shy as a mouse back in the day. I don’t know what I ate but I am exactly the opposite now. Not that I’ve lost all inhibitions. I still get jittery when I’m in front of an audience but once I’m there and the program starts, I just hug the limelight, all of it. Now what does it take to be a competent host? I say everyone has the potential to be a good emcee. You don’t have to be the most good-looking or the most talkative or the most influential to be able to take your turn on the mic. Now to help you make that first step toward hosting stardom, here are some improvised hosting tips.

Do your research.
This is very basic. Know the kind of party you will be hosting. Is it a birthday party? An orgy perhaps? A wedding reception? Is it going to be a formal coat-and-tie event or a come-as-you-are junket? Your research is going to be crucial to the other tips.

Plan your “script”. The script is in quotation marks because I don’t recommend that you make a full-blown script (with all your spiels, blocking, and per-minute details), at least for small to medium scale events which are usually the main fare of start-up hosts. From experience, a full-blown script usually ends up not being used especially if there’s no clear program as in the case of most wedding reception parties or Christmas or birthday parties here in the Philippines. So unless you’ll be hosting a full-production program, I suggest you save yourself the trouble of doing a full-length script. Instead, I suggest that you prepare an outline of the program, or at least a list of the things that you want to do. The outline will help you steer the program to how you want it to proceed. It will also be helpful if you research bits of information or trivia or what-have-yous that may be related to the event, the occasion, or the reason for the event. For instance, you can research about the origins of Philippine wedding traditions which you can share during the program. These pieces of information will not only save you just in case you get dead air, they will also make your program informative. Make sure to consult with your client about how he wants the program to proceed. Consider his input when preparing your “script”. In the end, he will be the judge whether you did good or not.

Spruce yourself up. But not like how you spruce up your Christmas tree. First, your research will tell you what kind of clothes to wear. Wear what is appropriate to the event. Second, whether you like it or not, everyone’s attention will be on you during 90 percent of the program (in the remaining 10 percent, your audience’s attention will be on your back while somebody else is on stage) so needless to say, try to look your best. Third, wear your clothes and not the other way around. Nuff said.

Do not panic. The most seasoned hosts still get nervous before they step on the stage. It goes away after a few minutes (and maybe after a few sweat drops on your forehead. God forbid your nervousness not make you wet in other places.). It does help that you breathe in and out before you go center stage. And think that you came to the event prepared (and see to it that you do). See your jitters walk out on you in a few.

Expect the unexpected. Everything that might go wrong will go wrong. A CD doesn’t want to play after you’ve introduced the performer, or your speaker finishes 30 minutes before his time and the next hasn’t arrived yet, or a drunk guest is starting to cause trouble in the middle of your spiel—in these cases, keep in mind the old adage “The show must go on.” And it’s your responsibility to keep the show going. You can abate a few minutes of delay by jerking your funny bone to make your audience laugh with some antics, or for more formal events like weddings, you can dish out the trivia you’ve gathered from your research or if you are anticipating a longer delay, you can ask guests to give their personal messages to the newly wed or the birthday celebrant.

Your audience is your best friend. Be sensitive to what they need, but be more sensitive to what they do not need. Make them feel important by giving them a show that is entertaining without being rude or offensive. However, keep in mind that your goal is not to please everybody. That will be impossible to do. What you can do is please most of your audience, make others happy, touch others, or at the least keep others occupied until the program ends.

This article is for my good friend Jun. I know it's late. I hope this will still be useful.:-)

1 comment:

Micaela said...

Oh yeah, Armel is the best host! He hosted my daughter's first birthday party. He was a blast! Everyone said he was great (hilarious, too). Obvious ba, am still raving about it until now? Hahaha