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What makes a great awards ceremony host?

First things first, a great awards host should never elicit a slap from an audience member, but we’re not here to talk about the 2022 Oscars fiasco… Booking a host for your event or awards ceremony can be a daunting task. You need a person who is confident, intelligent, and charismatic, but not overpowering. A person who adds something to the experience you are trying to create and can take the audience along for the ride. And that is difficult to find.

Without proper thought and a bit of creative thinking, awards ceremonies have the potential to lose momentum after dinner has been served and the drinks are flowing. While it is tempting to opt for the tried and tested favourites for these kinds of events, for the Dynamites Awards 2023, we wanted to change the format slightly and have two co-hosts, your traditional regular-on-radio-four comedian to warm, the audience, and a host who brought something different, would be a break from the norm, and could captivate over 450 of the brightest, and best tech minds in the region. Enter, Duncan Leatherdale. Duncan is an award-winning journalist and writer working for the BBC in the North East, and we knew that he would be the perfect fit for the 10th annual Dynamites Awards, as our ‘roving reporter’ bringing the action to the tables throughout the ceremony. We chose Duncan because of his ability to hold people’s attention with his lighthearted interview techniques, to keep the room energised, and to ensure the packed evening schedule ran smoothly with some fun along the way.

Speaking about his experience of hosting Dynamites 2023, Duncan said, “Being involved in the Dynamites was a real pleasure from start to finish. Considering the number of guests and awards, the whole thing ran super smoothly and everyone involved was welcoming, friendly, and, most importantly, fun. You could say the Dynamites went off with a bang!”

Despite being his first time hosting the event, feedback on Duncan’s ability to engage and entertain the audience was fantastic, and it got us thinking about what makes a fantastic event host. We asked the team what they thought…

Stage presence 

Some people just have a natural charisma and you can tell they were just born to be on a stage. They can make everyone in the room feel included and can hold people’s attention among a whole host of distractions (including alcohol!). A host who can create a positive atmosphere and pick up a crowd when there is a lull in the evening is gold dust. If they have a passion for what they are doing, it can be contagious!

Poise under pressure 

Live events can be stressful for those working them, and there is always the opportunity for something to go awry. Choose an event host that you are confident would remain professional and collected in the face of something unexpected – which can happen more often than you think (a great host will just make the audience never know there was an issue). They should be a great time manager and be aware of keeping the schedule moving to pace; work closely with them in advance to discuss the flow of the event, timings of speeches, and how to transition between segments and then trust them to do the rest.

Great communication skills 

A great communicator will have the ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. Find someone who is articulate, well-spoken, and can convey sometimes complex information about the businesses in the room in a clear and accessible way. There is nothing worse than a disinterested host who has their nose stuck in their note cards for the whole event. Whether they are telling an anecdote, introducing a speaker, or presenting an award, a great host will keep everyone informed and excited about your key messages.

A quick thinker 

Events can be fast-paced and there may be some details that change at the last minute or a live situation unfolding needs to be handled with a bit of quick thinking to address. Find a host who will notice, understand, and react to an unfolding situation quickly and fittingly. Appropriate humour and a bit of quick wit can go a long way to diffuse a situation and will give the audience a laugh at the same time.

Well researched 

While it would be helpful for your host to have a working knowledge of the sector for the event they are hosting, you want a host who has put in the leg work to research the key players in the room, and businesses in attendance and understands the key reasons why the event is taking place. We’ve all been to events where the host has stumbled over names or fumbled what businesses do. The trick to being a great host is to start before the event itself so everyone in the room feels like their work is respected and appreciated.

A team player 

Ultimately, your awards evening is about your guests, those shortlisted, and your winners, and you don’t want someone who is all about taking the limelight for themselves. A great award host will be generous and make delegates feel like the most important people in the room, especially if they have to come on stage to present or receive an award. Before and during the event they also need to work closely with the events team, venue, and technical crew to make sure that everything runs smoothly and everyone knows what is happening and why.

Do they make sense? 

There are plenty of agents online who peddle their high-profile or celebrity clients as awards hosts – but do they actually make sense for the event and the people in the room? Sure a famous sports star might be a cool name on the agenda, but even with a good script can they carry a conversation about your sector with enthusiasm and authenticity – maybe not. If you do go for a high-profile name make sure that there is a valid reason for them to be there, maybe a link to your region or an interest in the kinds of work you deliver, otherwise, it can come across as a little superficial.

To speak to the team about organising an awards ceremony for your business, email or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.