“It Is An Emcee Who Can Make Or Break An Event” – Sakshi Mandwal

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For any industrial event to be successful, engagement of audience is very important. Different means are adopted by event organisers and management to keep the audience entertained and to hold their attention. These programs may include Fashion Shows, Cultural dance performances, Singing Performance, etc. But who is responsible for coordination of this plethora of events on stage?

The name ‘Master of Ceremonies’ is self explanatory when it comes to understanding the relevance of an Emcee at any event. An emcee is not just responsible for making sure that the event is going in the right direction, but he/she also sets the tone and the vibe of an event. An emcee brings comic relief to most serious issues and a feeling of community in a room full of people. An Emcee is an artist, effortlessly, yet majorly influencing the success of any event.

In a special endeavor to understand the contribution of Emcee’s in the MICE industry, Exhibition Showcase talks to Sakshi Mandwal, a media professional, with an extensive work experience of more than ten years, in the line of Television, Events and Entertainment, as an Emcee-Newsreader- Talk Show Host- Sports Journalist- Voice over Artist- Commentator- Scriptwriter. Excerpts;

Q. How did you land up in the events & exhibitions industry?
A. As a kid, I always wanted to be in front of people, whether it was through the medium of television or having a live audience. I knew communication was my forte and hence after finishing my Masters, the plan was to enter the line of media. While doing masters, I had a renowned guest speaker Mr. Ravi Kant Singh (journalist and sports commentator), notice my communication skills, love for sports and comfort with the camera. He suggested that I interview for the National television channel of the country, Doordarshan. I cleared the audition and within a month’s time I was on air on DD Sports and DD National doing Live sports talk shows. Since then there has been no looking back. Soon I was hosting documentaries for IGNOU and Jamia Milia University. Post that I had major brands approach me for hosting their events within Delhi and across the country. My first client in the line of events, I still remember, was The Times of India and then as they say the rest is history. Exhibition Industry happened when I got into hosting conferences and seminars on a huge scale.

Q. Please share your professional journey with us. What were the major landmarks and achievements in your journey?
A. Over the years I learnt the usage of my skills and how to market them and made a life out of what I love doing the most. My work is my passion in life and I get to live it every single day. From being a talk show host for television, I only expanded my skill set further through networking and found my feet in a line that is still considered to be male dominated, but definitely has acceptance for females equally today. Entering the world of hosting major sporting tournaments for the National Broadcaster, documentaries, events, brand launches, press meets, seminars, conferences, concerts, web portals, the world of print media, media institutes making television shows, lending my voice for documentaries, radio and television talk shows only grew further and deeper and has translated over a period of ten years into only expanding my skills further into doing commentaries for sporting events and ministerial events and being a guest speaker in several media institutes. I have hosted every season of the Commonwealth games, Asian Games, Olympics, National Games, South Asian Games, Khelo India, since 2010. In the past I have hosted several conferences, some of which include APAO-AIOS meet 2013, 10th Quality Conclave of India for Doordarshan, InternationaI Yoga Day (in the presence of the honorable Prime Minister of the country. Narendra Modi), National Science Day, RAILTEL and IRSTE & bringing Japanese food to India (A pan India conference series) for the Japanese among several others.

I always knew I wanted to be a Talk show host and also be in front of a live audience. Meeting new people, getting to know their life journeys, their struggles and their achievements, having the eyes of an audience on me and being able to hold their attention when I speak to them, has always given me the biggest high in life.

I have also interviewed celebrities and Athletes. To name a few Pooja bhatt, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Randeep Hooda, Subhash Ghai, Sunidhi Chauhan, Rohan Bopanna, Indian women’s cricket team, Capt. Udit Thapar and many more. Having grown up watching cricket, it was a dream come true when I interviewed Mumbai Indians. In the line of Events & Entertainment, I have worked with brands like IPL, Zee Business, UTV Bloomberg, Coca Cola India Pvt Ltd, Pepsi, Indian Army, Indian Government, Japanese, American Society For Quality, Times Of India, Dainik Jagran, Hindustan Times, Neo Sports, Sahara India Parivar, IIT Roorkee, Wizcraft, The Indian Army, Star Sports, NDTV, Big Bazaar, UNICEF, Nokia,The Times Of India Group, Microsoft, Railtel, Irse, Lakshyam, Ford, WHO, Intel And Many More. It’s been a long journey of getting to know and understand the industry but I definitely feel content when I look back today at how the past decade went by.

Q. What according to you is the role of an emcee? And what is his/her contribution towards the success of an event?
A. An emcee has a very big role in any event. In fact, it is an emcee who can make or break an event. There is a reason why an MC is called a master of ceremonies. He/she has the responsibility of holding the entire event together by bringing all the people involved, from the audience, to the speakers, to the organizers, together on the main day. Holding an audience’s attention is not a very easy job. A normal human beings attention span is maximum for a minute in general, hence it requires creativity, thinking out of the box, sharp presence of mind, strong communication skills, presentation skills, a confident body language, a knack for humor and above all, making the audience get into the feel of the evening and all of this depends solely on the shoulders of an emcee.

Q. What are the prerequisites to become a good emcee?
A. Well, the most important prerequisites for a good emcee are: Strong communication skills, confidence, public speaking skills, good command over language, a good research over the background and relevance of the event to be held, sharp presence of mind, a sense of humor, out of the box thinking to be able to handle crisis situations, a happy and confident body language, making the audience enjoy the evening, ensuring that no major hiccups happen during the course of an event and even if one does happen, the transition should be smooth.

Q. What kind of training is available for this career in India?
A. There are a lot of institutes that offer courses in mass communication at the graduation level and post graduation level providing specialized training in personality development and communication skills. No matter what stream you come from, this field of work offers courses of training to students of all streams. However, having English as a subject at the higher secondary level always helps. Institutes like like Jamia Millia Islamia, Indian Institute of Mass Communication and St. Stephens provide these courses & are spread out across the country today.

However, this is a practical field. What makes a person learn and evolve himself or herself in the best way, is by actually getting down into the field and learning through experience. Experience is the best teacher for an emcee.

Q. What feedback would you like to give to event organizers? What can they do to make your job functions smoother?
A. The event industry has only grown bigger and bigger with every passing year. Today, from personal functions like marriages, anniversaries and family occasions to formal and semi formal events like conferences, seminars and concerts. So the event organiser certainly deals with a lot of people while managing an event. As far as their relations with an emcee are concerned; Well, they most definitely look after all the essential needs of an emcee. See, it’s a two way thing. An emcee himself or herself has to be prepared in entirety for his/her job at hand and more importantly be mentally prepared to be able to handle a crisis situation well. Just looking after the small little needs of an artist like making water bottles available, ensuring a green room is available, creating a smooth bridge of communication between the emcee and the client, assigning a person with the emcee who can provide all the last minute changes in details to him/her, are just a few of the little things that go a long way in contributing towards the success of an event. It is very important to build a healthy working relationship between the event manager and all the artists involved and this is a two way job.

Q. Can you recount an event where you handled a crisis situation effectively? Please elaborate.
A. During an event I was hosting on New Year’s, about 30-40 people from the crowd came on stage. The police and management present, somehow handled the situation. Though the toughest part for me that night, was that after this incident I had to stay in the green room with the police officers outside my room and do the rest of the hosting from inside, till the situation came under control. Being able to do that with sound issues

happening with the mike was a very tough task. I was supposed to fill a huge break in the show, without coming outside. I guess managing the sound effectively on the mike was more of a challenge for me than what I said to hold the crowd and calm them down. I was literally standing at one corner of the green room, where the range of sound was smooth and consistent!

Q. What are your future plans?
A. Well, I take each day as it comes and try and give my hundred percent to the task in hand. Enjoy the smallest of the victories, but never let them make you content. The flame of desire towards making your dreams come true has to be lit always. I do have some future plans; but for now I’ll choose to keep them undisclosed till they actually happen. All I know is I am on the right path and I’ll continue to go with the flow, follow my heart, live my passion and keep working towards my dream. To put it simply, my aim is make each day count and strive towards doing just good work that I believe in.

Q. What is your opinion about the Indian Event and Exhibitions Industry?
A. The Indian event and exhibition industry is a rapidly growing, blooming industry. Gone are the days when people were not aware about events, exhibitions and event management. Today the event industry has its foothold in not just the metropolitans or A tier cities but also B and B+ tier cities. The exhibition industry provides a great platform for exhibitors and industry professionals to come together and reach out to a bigger audience. Today the exhibition industry promotes face to face skill sets while embracing digital innovations. It is diverse, dynamic and an inclusive industry and a big economic contributor towards other industries as well as their own. And with combined expertise and efforts of the professionals in the industry, the Indian Events and Exhibitions Industry has made a name in the global market.

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