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We have now trained several thousand people in all facets of our profession. We regularly hear stories from our alumni about how they fared after the training or workshop. In it, they share observations, insights and learning points that will be of interest to any emcee.
Evelien van Klaveren improvised her way out of a tricky situation in which a door played an important role.

My first emcee job! I had been asked to moderate a session for the VNG (about 30 people) as part of a larger Foreign Ministry event. Very nice, a manageable first job! Ideally, before the smaller session started, I could 'check out' the emcee for the whole day and get a feel for the atmosphere.

It took place on the 11th floor above The Hague Central Station, and when I arrived, well on time, our room had been assigned at the very end of a long corridor; this was a half-open room (with no door) that contained exactly 30 chairs, however, there was only a minimal amount of room to move around at the front. And there were 5 flip charts blocking all the space (and yes, I had requested them myself... but in my head, of course, they were going to be set up in a large room and not queued up on the 'stage'). I was shocked! I had wanted the group to move and shift around a lot, to maintain a lot of energy in the group. How was I going to do that now?

In the end, the fact that it was a room that was open proved to be the solution. I simply used the lunch rooms next door (luckily it was after lunch, and no one was sitting there!). I put the flip charts there and walked around a lot myself once I had split up the group to work.

It was totally different from what I had imagined beforehand, but the conditions actually created a team feeling among the group, and we dealt with what we were given. What did go exactly as I had learned at the Masters in Moderation Workshop was The Non-Stop-Chatter. I didn't get much of a handle on her at first, but then I remembered how to approach this: wait for the person to take a breath and immediately follow up, paraphrase and move on to another participant. And it succeeded!

What did I learn? Specify more clearly the criteria the space must meet. The tricky thing in this case was that I was hired by an organisation, which in turn was organising a break-out session for another organisation, and this organisation had hired an external venue. In other words, my requests had gone past four people. Next time, I will try to make contact further down this communication chain, so there is less noise on the line. And I also won't forget to mention that I want a room with a door.

Evelien van Klaveren

Foto: Timon Studtler op Unsplash

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