If you are a professional presenter or speaker looking for insights into what to add to your stagecraft – or an event organiser looking for a greater understanding in what to look out for, read on…
What is a professional presenter?
A professional presenter is responsible for interviewing and introducing guests, linking segments. Their role is to generally hold an event together. Professional presenters are usually found
- On TV and radio
- At conferences, congresses, AGMs and other events.
What is the difference between a professional presenter and a keynote speaker?
Often, as an agency, event bookers come to us and ask for ‘A presenter who can cover xy or z…” In this regard, the event organiser is most likely looking to book a keynote speaker. However, if you are looking for a professional presenter to undertake interviewing guests or the introduction of guests, or to manage segments you are really looking for a professional MC, not a keynote speaker.
The professional speaker and the professional MC do provide different roles, and it’s important to define these roles. As an event organiser it’s useful to define exactly what you are looking for in your presenter and as a professional speaker, it certainly helps you market yourself if you are clear about what you provide.
Professional MC Roy Sheppard brings clarity to the differences between a professional presenter (MC) and a keynote speaker who markets themselves as a presenter.
He says, a lot of speakers may believe they are an MC, because they introduce speakers and ask some questions, but a professional MC is integral to the event and gets involved in many aspects, that add value. Roy adds such value he is usually rebooked for a number of years by his clients. This is because the events he gets involved with report an increase in member retentions and renewals because of the event.
What are the qualities of a professional presenter?
One word sums up a professional presenter. That word is ‘Awareness.’
A professional presenter is very:
- Self-aware – The professional presenter knows what’s expected and how to conduct themselves.
- Audience aware – They understand the audience well – not just who is in the audience, but what they feel and what they need.
- Production aware – The professional presenter is also very aware of what is going on in the general production of the event. They know things can, and do, go wrong, and they are able to seamlessly handle the chaos in a professional way when the inevitable happens
If you are a professional speaker, but not experienced or comfortable handling the unexpected and the awkward, it’s not recommended that you market yourself as an event MC, or take on the role of MC at an event.
However, if you decide to stretch into that role, because an event organiser asks if you can, be aware you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation you will wish you were not in, and you may not handle it as well as a professional MC could, thus letting the client and the audience down.
Our advice: Know what you offer and stay in your lane.
Clarity for event organisers
If you are an event organiser, be clear on what your event needs. If the event has multiple speakers, with segments in between presenters, or spaces for the presenter to interview guests, allow budget for a professional MC.
If you try to save budget by having your keynote speaker dovetail as an MC, you are almost certainly short-changing your audience with that decision and delivering a sub-standard project. A professional MC will add more value than their fee and they will use skills a keynote speaker won’t have developed (because their expertise is different).
What a professional MC will do for you
A professional MC will take the time to get to know your audience pre-event. They may survey the audience, to discover what’s really on the audience’s mind. They chat with delegates, conference organiser and guests. On request, many professional presenters can deploy software where the audience can give feedback or ask questions anonymously, in real time. Here the professional presenter increases audience engagement and can provide the event organisers with critical data that may help inform future events or company direction.
Professional MC’s are very astute and quickly sum up what the audience needs and what the real, often unspoken challenges, are – and they are not afraid to address them if required.
What are the other skills a professional presenter brings to the stage?
The professional presenter is aware of:
- Time – Any professionally run event needs to run to time. Sections have an allotted time frame, and the presenter will know where they need to fill a gap or be brief and move quickly.
- Additional questions – As other presenters take the stage; the MC will be aware that a speaker’s content often raises questions for the audience and when time allows, they will want to help the audience get those answers. In some cases, the presenter will use software to collect audience questions and responses and use a Q&A section to ask the questions.
- Stage Ownership – The stage is the professional presenter’s domain and they are aware of their body language and the power and conviction they need to hold to make the event a success. They are not afraid to make eye contact with the audience or interact with them. Because they are aware of time, they will also know when to stop talking, move things along and how to add energy and momentum to the event, rather than getting stuck unnecessarily.
- Thinking on their feet – While keeping the event vision in mind, the professional presenter may notice the need to pivot. They may also encounter technical issues, or have to manage mishaps. The professional is used to this and almost anticipates it before it happens.
- Added value – as well as what a professional presenter, brings to the stage, some professional presenters like Roy Sheppard may be willing to run additional breakout sessions.
Examples of a professional presenter
Roy Sheppard is an award-winning professional presenter and holder of the “Virtual Presenter of the Year (UK)”.
Caution to professional speakers who find themselves drawn into the MC or presenter role…
As we said earlier, if you are a professional speaker, but not experienced or comfortable handling the unexpected and the awkward, it’s not recommended that you market yourself as an event MC, or take on the role of MC at an event. We strongly recommend you stay in your lane and be a great speaker.
We believe all keynote speakers should be Stellar Speakers – able to entertain, connect with an audience and make a positive impact. As a unique speaker agency representing change-making keynote speakers, we provide expertise to help you manage your budgetary expectations and provide realistic options. We provide a preferred partner’s service base, so that partner clients get everything they need, lowering your risk as a booker of speakers, so you can make your choice about your next speaker with confidence.