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Now that virtual events are the talk of the town, it’s time to consider a virtual emcee. Especially because one of the biggest concerns with virtual events is audience engagement. So considering a virtual emcee is definitely something you want to do. Not only will one keep your event interesting, but it will also make your audience happier and eager for more. But where to start? And why should you really consider hiring one? What are the tangible benefits brought to the table?

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To help answer all these questions, we’re happy to introduce Dan Ram. Dan was a previous guest on #EventIcons. And as a remote emcee, world traveler, and industry icon, he has plenty to teach. So if you’re curious to learn how a virtual emcee can help ensure the success of your remote event, wait no longer – press play and join Dan Ram and Will Curran on a brand new, exciting episode of #EventIcons!

The Shift To Virtual Emcee

Dan walks us through the process of temporarily trading in-person gigs for the virtual emcee role. “I can’t just waltz into a well-designed conference hall and do my thing. Because now those same event organizers are coming to me and be like, “Okay, we need to change the format, help us out.” So even what we did right before we went live was so important for this podcast to work. And that is just figuring out audio, video, lighting, and all of that. Just because you can rock a stage does not mean you can rock a camera with no audience, with no feedback from the audience. It’s a totally different game”, he explains.

“And so I feel like a virtual emcee just smoothens everything. So this is what we do, we flattened the curves so that the experience is a little bit more palatable for everybody rather than someone awesome on camera and someone who’s just reading notes off into a camera. And a good virtual emcee can help with that”.

The Role Of A Virtual Emcee In The Pre-Show

Dan already teases how a virtual emcee can help out before the virtual event takes off. But he gives us some more great insight into the matter! “So essentially there are two main things I do for every speaker before they come on the stage. First, I make sure that they’re okay and comfortable. Because anyone who’s happy with themselves before they come on stage is going to deliver really well. And a lot of people are anxious and even though there is no audience, and even though they might not be 5,000 people looking at me, being in front of a camera is scary for many people”.

“Step number two is usually before they come on stage backstage, I will tell them, here is your microphone, are you going to use a handheld mic or a headset? Your sound crew is over here and I’ll guide them through what makes for a great performance on stage. There are similar elements when it comes to virtual conferences. For example, a little shift in the camera gives a very different view. So I think coaching people through that is essential”, he adds.

virtual emcee

Helping Speakers In Virtual Events

We’ve already established that a virtual emcee can be a great coach to your speakers. Dan shares extra details about how he goes about this process. “So what I shared there was what happens like five minutes before they come on camera. The second part of it is storytelling looks so different on camera than it does on stage. If I’m on stage, I’m pacing there to create energy. Well, I do more hand movements and I realize that my frame is upper body. So I can’t do anything with my legs, I can’t do anything with my hips, I have to use this space”.

“And I also realize that this little rectangle is our room, this is our connection. So how do you maximize this rectangular space in storytelling? And you have to figure out how to be creative, how to be engaging, how to be animated, how to be energetic in a different world of virtual. So these are some of the tips that are necessary to discuss even with the most seasoned stage performers. Because the online world, unless you daily vlog and unless you are a natural with social media, may not come as naturally when talking to a camera”, adds Dan.

Preparing For A Virtual Audience

“So right now, for example, I cannot see anybody who is watching this or listening to this. And so I have to imagine the present people that are in the audience as well as those who will tune in later, and I have to craft my story accordingly”, Dan explains. “I think for a virtual emcee, things are different. Because when people come to a conference they will usually stay for the day. When people come to a virtual conference, they don’t always stay for the entire conference. And so how you engage people, how you monitor energy is very, very different”.

“Often when I’m doing virtual conferences, I will have one-hour breaks, two-hour breaks, and then we’ll do a deep dive conversation about that topic the next day. But also then my job as virtual emcee changes because it’s not as smooth, we have to do essentially a primer and a closer”.

“Some of the things that you can expect are that people are going to click on or click off. And neither I nor the speaker can be offended by that. But that is how virtual behavior is as opposed to physically where people might mentally switch off, but they’re physically still in the room. That may not happen for a virtual conference”, he adds.

“In order to carry the theme of a conference, I feel like a virtual emcee has to do more work. When it’s virtual, some people are just in the pajamas still in bed cuddling their dog and casually listening on the side. And so as an emcee, I feel like that glue element is so much more important with these opening statements, these closing statements, welcoming people constantly”.

Engaging The Audience: A Virtual Emcee Perspective

“Gamification is so crucial for virtual conferences otherwise, people will click out. We’re still in the early days of virtual conferences, there’s going to be tons of conferences, which means that you have to engage your audience in a really, really important way. In-person, you raise your hand, we’ll do a dance together, we’ll do a sing-along, I will do polls. But virtually you can do things differently”, Dan explains.

The Importance of An Educated Audience

I know a lot of platforms have Q&A options, they have poll options and common sections. It’s really important that you use those. But it’s also important that you educate your audience on how to use it. So give them some incentive to start testing the platform. The last thing you want is to lose 30 or 40% of your audience due to technical issues. And they’ll try for two, three minutes and then they’ll just lose interest and go back to their kid that is howling or their dog that needs a walk”, he adds.

“So it’s important that pre-event you do a few technical documents, you give a couple of videos on how to log on, how to create a username, how to create a profile if that’s necessary. How to use the different gamification options, the different audience engagement options, and do some trial runs. So that when you have your conference it is super exciting. But please, please use the amazing options that are available online and that is also true for your speakers, make sure that they know how to do a vote, make sure they know how to engage their audience“.

virtual emcee
Creating Engagement In Chat Rooms

“So tip number one and the only way to do that is to ask them something obvious. So something like ‘quickly type in the comment section where you are tuned in from’. All they got to do is type in the city and now you’ve got that flood of comments and that creates a real sense of energy in the comment section. Or you’ll ask them something like if you are dressed, showered, and in an office, type ‘two’. So again, you’ve got that flood”, says Dan.

“Ask them something that they would want to share. So something like the diversity of an audience, the way you listening from, that is cool or what you wearing because people can’t see each other. One, create hype, second create discussion. Something that will cause a difference of opinion”.

“Create discussion and I would put that about seven to 10 minutes into a talk. So people have a chance to hear the opinions of the speaker and then form their own opinions, and then create an opportunity for them to share that. But please pick a question where you’re going to have opposing answers, and ask them to engage. And finally, number three, reward people for engagement. So when someone shares something, respond to that. When someone has an opinion and people are attacking, validate the person that has an opinion”, he concludes.

Getting The Audience Excited

Will is curious to know how Dan would go about keeping the audience excited for the next day if it’s a multi-day virtual event. “I guess my best tip is to think like a radio presenter. Radio presenters have this thing that they have to do where between songs they kind of have to say, thank you so much for that great interview with so-and-so. We’re going to go to this song, but when we come back, you’re going to have this”, Dan explains.

“And then people listen to this lovey track, but they’re also going to stay tuned, they’re not going to like tune out. And so you’re forward selling, and it’s the same when you’re doing virtual conferences. But please realize with forward selling that you cannot expect people to be tuned in an hour or three hours later. So you’re literally just forward selling the next thing, the thing that’s happening 10 minutes from now, the thing that’s happening in a different section of your platform”.

Final Considerations

Dan leaves us with the top five things to consider when putting together a virtual event. “One, new audience and countries and cultures and continents, and top potential to engage far more people. Number two, new revenue streams because when you do a physical conference, there are ways you can monetize. When you do virtual conferences, there is a whole new gamut of ways that you can monetize to get an idea of how you can get new partners, new sponsors, and even your audience to pay you in new ways”.

“Three, new audience engagement. Sure, I don’t have a band to groove to onstage, I don’t have cool lights and a beautiful platform. But virtual through the discussion forum, through the chat section, through the poll offers a whole new, different audience engagement opportunity. Four, a whole new experience when it comes to speakers. But I think intimacy and personal experiences is what virtual conferences are going to allow, because now we’re going to meet people in their homes, in a new special kind of way that on a big stage just does not translate in the same way”.

“We’re going to meet family members, we’re going to meet dogs, we’re going to meet them wearing normal clothes. Longevity to virtual that does not exist when it comes to physical. Because when it comes to physical, people show up for the day. And for event organizers, this is the biggest opportunity. This is how you get that email list, this is how you get the social media connections with your audience. So you can connect with them every single day, which means you got to think about the content and dissemination of information in a very different way. We’re not talking about an eight-hour talk conference, we’re not talking about a 20-minute keynote, we’re talking about daily content. How are you going to do that?”.


And that’s a wrap on this week’s incredible episode of #EventIcons! Are you excited about getting a virtual emcee on board? As you now know, they can make your remote event incredibly successful. Make sure you adopt Dan’s tips and don’t forget to look at what other content creators are doing in their live streams. See you next week for another iconic edition of the show!

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Will Curran

Author Will Curran

Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will Curran. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, you can catch Will ordering a chai latte or watching The Flash with his cats. He is also well known for his love of all things pretzels.

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