This is the last post in a series exploring what an EMcee can bring to an event using my recent experiences at the University of South Dakota (USD) High School Robotics Contest.
Game Day: The preparations are complete, and all that is left is execution of the perfect plan.
Game Day Reality: Stuff Happens.
The key is to execute as much of the pre-planning as possible and improvise the rest. Here are some key points where the plan needed to be modified:
- I spent some time before the event talking with the attendees. Interacting with the audience before any show is a core part of any public appearance for me. It gives me a chance to gauge the interests and mood of the group, and to pick out good prospects for volunteers if needed.
- While talking beforehand, several of the students recognized me as a magician and asked me to perform an effect. I declined, saying that we were here for robotics, not a magic show. But once the event started, I used an ancient (and previously exposed) gag to involve every student. This served two purposes. First to get them thinking collectively, and second, to make a point about bad assumptions in technology.
- I announced and shook hands with each keynote speaker. Since university job titles and duties are unfamiliar to many high school students, the shaking of hands is crucial as it passes the attention and credibility to each person before they speak.
- Sticking with the agenda, we moved from phase to phase quite nicely, but the preliminary rounds took longer than expected, so the team and I worked out a way to keep the competition moving and adjusted the scheduling accordingly.
- Several times during the day, I made announcements about our faculty, student clubs, etc. to keep the students not currently competing interested.
By the end of the day, winners and runners-up were announced and given prizes, new friends were made, and the event ended on time. As EMcee, I helped to keep things moving. The following week I sent a copy of all my materials to the USD Computer Science Department, with suggestions for the next year’s event.
Next week: Some insights to building new routines.