The Rise of Virtual Emcees

Virtual Emcees

Today, I want to talk to you about a massive opportunity that exists for professional speakers.

The rise of virtual emcees.


What we cover:

  • Being able to improvise.
  • Being cool under pressure.
  • Understanding a little bit of technology.
  • Being able to take direction
  • Being a team player.



The role of the virtual emcee.

Hi, it’s James Taylor, your keynote speaker and founder of SpeakersU. So there’s a job role that I’m seeing or a position I’m seeing in more and more virtual events. And I think if you’re a speaker, a presenter, presenter, who really wants to maybe add a new revenue stream to what you’re doing, I think this is a huge opportunity. And it’s the role of the virtual emcee or the virtual host. 

I’m going to talk to you about the kind of skill set I think is required to be a good virtual host. And I want to talk to you about why I believe this is going to be a trend more generally, as well as can be more requests.
I’ve been doing virtual hosting events since about 2016. And really, the role of the virtual hosts or the virtual emcee is to be the glue that holds the whole thing together, you’re the person that’s on camera, you’re the person who’s welcoming people into the event, who’s introducing one speaker, the next speaker, the person who’s doing the outro is from them, the presenters who kind of linking one section to the other, the person who’s talking about the event theme and threading that through everything you do, maybe you’re also doing some panel moderation as well, you’re really the glue. And I think some speakers can actually fulfill this job very well if I know some speakers, including myself, who can do both great keynote speaking and also could be a virtual emcee. It’s not right for everyone. But if you have the skillset, this is a huge opportunity, because it’s very in-demand just now.

Guide On The Side

So I think to do this, well, you have to be this kind of glue. You also have to be comfortable in not just being the sage on the stage. But being the guide on the side. That person who guides an audience through a virtual event could be something as simple as a two-hour event to our meeting. It could be something as complex as a multi-day virtual conference with lots and lots of speakers, I think a large one ever did. We had 140 speakers on them. I’ll give you another example. When I was doing it the other day, I was brought in as the virtual emcee for this event, and only about 10,000 attendees on it. I’m doing everything live from my studio in the United Kingdom. We had Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple on he was doing his live keynote to present his live presentation. From a studio in California, we had the main event production team who are in Argentina in Buenos Aires. And then we had another studio in Spain, I believe, as well. And all this is going on all this has fed. And so my job as the virtual emcee is to be the glue is to bring this together is to be welcoming is to ensure that the event theme is running through it to also moderate some of the panels that are going on. And some of the conversations are going on as well, and be able to just kind of take the flow of the overall events, you can also have a little bit of the face of the event.


So there’s a number of things. I think if you want to do this well, skills I tend to see in good virtual, MCs are virtual hosts. The first one I would say is they have to be very good improvisers. Because as great as virtual is, sometimes things go wrong, sometimes guest speakers coming in their feed are not working correctly, or they can’t hear you or there are some problems going. So you have to be very comfortable working on camera live and being pretty much unflappable and being able to improvise. And suddenly in the middle of nowhere where you’re suddenly told in your earpiece, hey, the speaker isn’t able to get a connection with us. So we needed to just riff on something for five minutes. And not every speaker has the ability comedians are fine. People are coming in from a comedy or an acting background, they can usually do this pretty well. Not every speaker nicely feels comfortable in doing this. If you’re quite happy if if someone said to you, we need you to go and talk about this random topic for five minutes on stage and just kind of get through that then if you’re the kind of person that could do that virtual emceeing could be for you.


The other thing I think you have to have is a simpatico and empathy for your audience and for the other people that are involved in the event the other speakers for example on the team. So being very empathetic towards them being a real team player. Once again, not all especially keynote speakers can do this. A lot of keynote speakers are lone wolves. They’re just happy to come in, give the speech and then go back out again, that’s fine. But with virtual hosts or MCs, need to be much more of a team player.

Comfortable With Technology

The third thing I would say is you have to be pretty good with technology and be very comfortable with technology as well. Because especially in the role, of the virtual emcee for a lot of events. You Don’t ask to be going to big production studios, maybe like a TV show word or a live tv live broadcast. Maybe you’re doing all from your home studio. So you have to know pretty much how everything works. You need to have redundancies. What if that microphone fails? Do I have a backup? What if the internet goes down? Do I have a backup?

Good General Communicator

Once again, not everyone has that, you have to have the ability to be able to take direction. So like that event I just mentioned, where I’m giving moderate moderating or giving a virtual emcee role that event, I’ve got a producer event producer in my ear, giving me you know, suggestions of what Okay, this is where we should go next. And being able to respond to that. And if you’ve been doing TV, you’ll have probably broadcast news. No problem. This is your bread and butter. But for a lot of people that can be a little bit weird, it can be a bit disconcerting, especially like some of the events I do. They’re in multiple languages. And you’re hearing me with the previous speakers talking in Spanish, and you’re trying to figure that out as well, which also leads me to thing lead me to this idea of being just a good general communicator, especially big, large global conferences, you need to be able to use your body language, use your facial expressions in a way, and use your language in a way that is a little bit more constrained, a little bit more focused, not so many big words. Sometimes you have to be a little bit more focused in your speaking.

Virtual Emcee

But here’s the opportunity in 2000, I’ve been doing virtual events for many years and emceeing them.
But in 2020, I just got so many requests to do virtual emceeing because many companies decided rather than do they can’t do the in-person conference, where they would normally bring in a keynote speaker to be the keynote speaker opening or the closing keynote speaker. So inside said they decided to run a virtual event. But they don’t know if they want to spend the budget of bringing a keynote speaker and multiple keynote speakers. But they do need to have someone that can just have brought the whole thing together. And can do virtually. So here’s what the opportunity is. And I see this more and more where more conferences will be not necessarily looking for that professional keynote speaker, especially under a certain size, they will be looking for someone to be the glue to hold the whole thing together to be able to know that the event theme to be able to understand the values of the brand. Understand the way that the brand likes to speak about itself, sometimes called a brand guide the brand we’ll have to have a guy that’s how we like to speak. These are the kind of words that we use as a moderator or as a virtual emcee or host, you need to internalize this, and really understand this to be able to present it as well.

Even very simple thing I’m wearing this just now this is an event I did the other day. And I looked at the I asked the client, can you give me your brand guide. And I noticed that this color was one of their corporate colors. So as I am the host on screen for this, I’m ensuring that I’m wearing their corporate colors. These are very fine, detailed, little things. That means that the role of the virtual emcee of the virtual host can really excel, it’s an unusual job. It’s not right for everyone, not everyone wants to do it. But there are so many opportunities because it’s going to be a little bit slower for some of those in-person events to be happening. But every single day, there are hundreds or 1000s of events happening virtually. And some of these are really quite big events, where they’re looking for that virtual moderator or host or MC.

So have a think about that for yourself. If you’re a speaker, and I mentioned some of these different skills, being able to improvise, being cool under pressure, understanding a little bit of technology as well. Being able to take direction being a team player. If this sounds like you, and you have the presentation skills you do as a speaker, virtual emceeing and virtual hosting could be a great addition, it doesn’t have to be your main thing, but can produce maybe 25% of your revenues in a year increases the diversity of your income streams.

If you want to learn about how we’re more about how to do this, and actually the technical side and how to work with clients, then we have a training on this at SpeakersU our membership program. So if you become a SpeakersU pro member, I can actually work with you one on one, I’m just going to show you the ropes of how to do these things. We have some case studies that I think be quite useful for you. And I can show you really where the opportunities to how to start getting gigs and getting bookings as a virtual emcee or host.

My name is James Taylor, please leave any comments below. Maybe you’re doing this just now let me know about your experiences, what you think the good skills of a great virtual emcee or host star, and make sure to click subscribe to this channel if you haven’t done so already.