Top ten event delivery tips — from a professional speaker.

Okay, so I’ve been pro­fes­sion­al­ly host­ing events as an MC and pre­sen­ter in Dubai for the past 8 odd years now. And just like every­thing else, the more you do the bet­ter you get. Here are the 10 tips I’d give any­one who wants to set out being a pre­sen­ter in Dubai — or any­where else for that mat­ter. It’s a great check­list to go through before an event. And you can head to my showreel page to see me put the­se tips to use on stage. So here goes:

Why the event? Why is the client hold­ing it in the first place? Every event has a rea­son for being, a raison d’ etre. It’s either for influ­encer good­will, a salespeople/channel part­ner jam­boree, or a gala din­ner with awards and dinky canapés. Either way, fig­ure out why the event is impor­tant for the busi­ness bot­tom line. And then, keep that in mind through the course of the evening/afternoon.

2. It’s not your chance to shine: It’s a tru­ism that’s actu­al­ly true — pre­sen­ters have to do the most work when an event is strug­gling. A well struc­tured event will flow almost of its own accord. Above all, resist the temp­ta­tion to make it all about you. As a pre­sen­ter in Dubai or else­where, this isn’t your plat­form — it’s for your clients and the audi­ence. Respect that. If it’s going well, go up and get off the stage, and let the show get on with it.

Cap­ti­vat­ing an audi­ence

3. Check with mar­ket­ing: The mar­ket­ing dept is respon­si­ble for most events. Trou­ble is, that dept is par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­com­bob­u­lat­ed and mak­ing about as much sense as a tod­dler on choco­late cake when the big evening approach­es. So get in a rehearsal if bud­gets allow. And if mon­ey is tight — and it usu­al­ly is because pre­sen­ters in Dubai are the very last thought to get any con­sid­er­a­tion — at least get some mar­ket­ing spokesper­son to give you some core event mes­sages. Remem­ber: it’s their mon­ey. They deserve to have their brand voice heard, even if they’re play­ing sil­ly bug­gers.

4. Walk the talk: This is lit­er­al. Walk the stage. Actu­al­ly walk it. In fact, walk the entire venue. Your mind is a won­der­ful thing, and will fig­ure out auto­mat­i­cal­ly how much space you have to work with. And get­ting to a venue ear­ly and walk­ing it helps you take own­er­ship of it. You realise you’re help­ing your client shape some­thing mem­o­rable. As a pre­sen­ter, that’s a pow­er­ful moti­vat­ing force.

5. Lit­er­al­ly get off stage: Again, lit­er­al. If you’re at an event with an ele­vat­ed stage that sticks you in a cor­ner, you’re in trou­ble. If you’re for­tu­nate enough to be on a wire­less lapel or hand-held mic, sur­prise the audi­ence every now and again by get­ting off the lit­tle box you’ve set your­self up on. Your audi­ence is remind­ed you can reach them, and that you want them to part of what you’re cre­at­ing. The result: more engage­ment, and a front row that realis­es being on Tin­der isn’t an option — because you might be peer­ing over their shoul­der like a nin­ja.

6. Say no to paper: Par­tic­u­lar­ly true if you’re a pre­sen­ter in Dubai. Face it, chances are you’re pre­sent­ing some­where where even the lit­tle elves serv­ing drinks are fes­tooned with gold inlaid cowhide. Wav­ing a dirty crum­pled sheaf of papers makes you look messy. Get a nice clip­board. Or even cue cards. Keep it sub­tle. Think chic, not geek.

7. Sound is your ene­my: I’ll go as far as to say the dif­fer­ence between a great event and medioc­re faffing around is the sound sys­tem. Remem­ber when we spoke about walk­ing the stage? If you’re mic’d up, or have a wire­less mic in your hands, approach the speak­ers next to the stage with it. If there’s a loud moan, and not in a sexy way, you’re in trou­ble. Let the sound guys know. They’ll either turn the vol­ume down to reduce the inter­fer­ence, or you’re going to have to draw imag­i­nary cir­cum­fer­ences around each speak­er. Trust me — inter­fer­ence absolute­ly kills events. Knocks ’em into per­turbed zom­bie land. If you’re deal­ing with a shod­dy sound sys­tem, know where you can’t go. And if you can, insist on a lapel mic or an over-ear doo-hicky. Think about it. You’ll prob­a­bly already be jug­gling key­cards, a click­er and what­not. Do you want to be encum­bered with a hand­held?

8. Till that soil: The dif­fer­ence between a good event and a great one? The audi­ence. Thing is, audi­ences are usu­al­ly easy. As a crowd, peo­ple respond best when they know there’s a sys­tem at work. So break it down for them. Tell them when to clap. Tell them when to cheer. If some­thing goes awry, acknowl­edge it. Be trans­par­ent. Ten­sion is an absolute event killer. You don’t want peo­ple not know­ing what’s com­ing next. So make sure your audi­ences nev­er feel they’re in the dark. That makes them defen­sive, which in turn makes them less liable to put out ener­gy.

9. A log­i­cal flow: Even the most com­pli­cat­ed events have a pat­tern.They’re not ran­dom. Dig­ni­taries usu­al­ly speak at the start. The raffle’s in the mid­dle. The buf­fet opens around then. Enter­tain­ment and thanky­ous come lat­er. This helps you remem­ber what you’re doing. And that’s incred­i­bly impor­tant. Because more than just speak­ing, a presenter’s role is to hold the event struc­ture in their head and make it all hap­pen.

If the Citi doesn’t sleep, nei­ther do I

10. Leave them want­i­ng more: Antic­i­pa­tion is the most valu­able tool you have. So let’s leave it here so you can look for­ward to the next one in this series on how to be a Dubai pre­sen­ter, or a pre­sen­ter any­where, real­ly. Get it done before they get sat­ed. And get off stage before they’ve had enough of you.

PS: A version of this piece appears on my website here.

PPS: Alter­na­tive­ly, you can check out how I empow­er brands through pow­er­ful copy­writ­ing before I take the stage to ver­bal­ly deliv­er their mes­sage.