DIFFERENT SKILLS are required for different opportunities. The more skills you’ve honed, the more repeat invitations you will receive for those skills.
Whether you are asked to be an emcee, a moderator, a keynote, a panelist, a facilitator or host a fireside chat, each comes with different demands and require different skills.
I am elite communicator, and with that comes not only the ability to pivot, but the experience to actually know what to do when it is time to pivot. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t give some credit to growing up in a black Baptist church and being a part of organizations like AKA where if you never lead anywhere else, you could get a shot at your local body.
The first time I emceed in a full-on beaded gown before about 800 people was with a master himself—Larry Mullins. He was a local anchor here in Dallas at the NBC affiliate where I had worked for a bit. I was only 23. Our job? Serve as Master and Mistress of Ceremony for my church’s scholarship banquet where the keynote was none other than Johnny Cochran. It was only about a year from the infamous OJ Simpson trial where he was acquitted.
There were skills that I flexed then, that I engaged this weekend at the OAO AKA event and even in Austin at the Texas Women’s Conference on behalf of Mary Kay:
1. Take control. Yes, you are the guest, but you are the show runner. Run it.
2. Be a storyteller. There is nothing more boring than someone who gets up and simply introduces everyone and sticks to the program without any true insight.
3. Know your audience and bring value. Speak to them as if each one of th
em is the only one in the room. Make them feel special and seen.
4. Know how to riff/banter. Even if you’re alone, you need to ad-lib.
5. Read well. Bios can’t be memorized, so whether on prompter or on paper, read that thing like it is a juicy novel.
6. Have a bit/theme. Larry and I most memorably whipped out one big black glove each in the middle of that event with Johnny Cochran after being told not to bring up the trial. We talked about how chilly it was in the room…and dropped puns about things that didn’t fit. Johnny LOLed!
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