While you may already be an expert at hosting experiences, hosting one online comes with its own set of nuances and considerations. Even if you already have your audio and video set up, thought writing your experience page felt familiar, adjusted your price and availability based on the online format, and are in the midst of getting to know Zoom, perhaps the trickiest part of hosting an online experience is being in front of the camera.
To help you become an engaging host and meet (and hopefully exceed) the standards for online experiences, here are some tips and best practices to apply before and after you step into the spotlight.
Much of the work it takes to be great in front of the camera takes place behind it. As you prepare for your online experience, keep these things in mind before you start filming:
- Dress the part. What looks good in real life doesn’t always look that way on camera. Solid colors work best, whereas clothing that’s black and white, striped, patterned, or has logos might not present as well.
- Get organized. You’re asking guests to come to your experience prepared, so do the same and “stage” everything before going live. Have all ingredients, tools, or props you’ll need within reach and ready to go.
- Do your homework. Look over your guest list and consider reading each guest’s profile in advance. This can help you remember names (and even where they’re from!), which can make people feel welcome and encourage deeper connection.
- Take a deep breath. It’s easy to talk quickly or rush when you’re nervous, but try to slow down and find moments of pause. This is especially helpful for guests who speak other languages or need more time with something.
- Forget perfection. Guests prefer when you’re human and relatable. Sometimes that means owning little mistakes or laughing through awkward moments. It’s better to be relaxed and confident than too formal or stiff.
- Let your individuality shine. Be warm. Be silly. Be yourself and have fun! Think of hosting as more of a conversation or activity with friends (ones you just haven’t met yet), less as a serious lecture or classroom.
- Consider co-hosting. Team members can help make your online experience more dynamic and engaging for guests. Having a co-host manage the messages in chat or operate the camera can help ensure that guests don’t miss any of the action.
You know your subject matter inside and out. To make sure that expertise shines through on camera, host your experience like it’s a journey, with a story arc from beginning to end.
Every good story is filled with memorable moments and clear takeaways, so think about breaking your experience story into chapters and outline the plot for each one. For example:
- Chapter 1. I want to establish my credibility and set expectations to help guests feel at ease and excited to participate. I’ll achieve this by giving an overview of my credentials, outlining the itinerary I have planned, then introducing an icebreaker.
- Chapter 2. To amaze and excite people, I’ll demonstrate 3 magic tricks. Afterwards, I’ll take guests through each one, step-by-step, so they can learn and perform the tricks themselves. Following each lesson, each guest will recreate the steps and get feedback from one another.
- Chapter 3. Just when guests think I’ve taught them all my secrets, I’ll introduce a moment of surprise and delight by performing a bonus trick—one they don’t expect, can’t decipher, and may possibly never understand the secrets behind performing it themselves…
As you “write” each chapter, remember to build in a memorable peak and a strong ending: Research shows that whether people remember an experience is highly correlated to its climax and conclusion. Inserting multiple peak moments and a thoughtful ending could be the difference between your guests telling friends and family, “Let me show you a cool magic trick I learned today!”, or simply telling them nothing at all about your experience.
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