by Beth Horner
The following information is based on Beth’s workshop KEEPING IT ALL TOGETHER: THE CONSUMMATE EMCEE. For more information on her workshop, check Beth’s website at www.BethHorner.comor contact her at BethHorner@earthlink.net or 888-443-3816. For additional information on the importance of good emceeing at storytelling events, see Beth’s article THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD EMCEE, excerpted in the September/October issue of The National Storytelling Magazine and provided in full on Beth’s website. The article also contains a less detailed set of tips on good emceeing.
“The Emcee is one of the most important roles at an event.” David Holt, Storyteller, Musician, Producer, Emcee “The Emcee is the glue that holds a storytelling evening together.” Susan Klein, Storyteller, Producer, Emcee “It’s a tough job … it’s an honor and a responsibility to share the work of others with an audience.” Dovie Thomason, Storyteller, Emcee
TIPS ON GOOD EMCEEING
by Beth Horner • www.BethHorner.com
Why is your roll as Emcee so Important?
The emcee is the storytelling event’s representative, is the bridge between producers and tellers and audience, sets the tone for a particular concert or festival set, determines the energy level throughout, is responsible for keeping on schedule and establishes the kind of community feeling the event will have. Depending on the situation, the emcee often wears many hats: artistic director of a set, venue coordinator, stage manager, stagehand, sound and lighting consultant, intro/outro writer, community builder, pitch person, clock watcher, trouble shooter, energy gatherer, care taker, point person of oneon-one audience feedback (both positive and negative), first aid expert, nerve calmer, cheer leader and dog catcher! And, the emcee must wear each hat with grace and charm! It is an important, demanding job requiring energy and skill. No pressure though!!! Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years, arranged as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. Before the Show At the Performance Site During the Program Closing the Program
In a nutshell, be prepared, be warm and succinct, avoid in jokes, be flexible, keep a good read on the time and on the audience’s need for a stretch, have a good time. And, remember that the event is not about you -- it is about the stories, the storytellers and the listeners.
1. Before The Show: Prepare Yourself.
• • • • Know what to do and who to contact in case of emergency. Familiarize yourself with the list of announcements so that when you are up on stage, you can quickly reel them off rather than reading them word for word at a ponderous pace. Think about how you plan to open and close the program. Think about your introductions. Do not plan to read from the printed program. If you don’t know the storytellers’ work, read about them or go to their web site to pick out brief gems here and there that you can use.
In planning your introductions, I recommend the following: a) Be brief and to the point b) Avoid comments on personal appearance. Avoid cultural stereotypes.
c) Stick to discussing their work rather than telling stories indicating your personal relationship with them (unless appropriate and you have the teller’s permission). d) Avoid hyperbole. Indicate that the audience is about to hear a special person, without requiring the teller to have to live up to an impossible expectation. e) Multi-session events. If you are emceeing at a multi-day event, try to use a different introduction each time you introduce an individual teller. Introductions can get shorter as the event progresses because audience members will have come to know the teller themselves. f) “First, Do No Harm”. Most important, make sure that your facts are correct and that you know how to pronounce the teller’s name. Ask them ahead of time and confirm that pronunciation. If you do nothing else to prepare, make sure that you can pronounce their name. g) If there...