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Passing the Baton: Planning Effective Handoffs Between Presenters

passing-baton

It seems like it should be an easy thing, but in our experience the most-often bungled part of a presentation is the handoff from one presenter to the next. There have been countless scenarios where we’ve seen a speaker finish their talk and just walk offstage, leaving awkward dead air while everyone tries to figure out what to do next. Or, they’ll finish the presentation and look helplessly at the emcee for direction.

Avoid these scenarios by planning how you want to handle your transitions ahead of time. There are a lot of different ways to do this. No one option is better than another - the right answer just depends on how you want to run your event.

Option 1: The Emcee

Having a single person provide the on-stage presence is usually the easiest option for your presenters. This person is responsible for opening sessions after breaks, introducing each presenter, and dismissing to breaks. They can come onstage to thank each speaker and moderate Q&A sessions. This provides your presenters with the support of having someone there to manage those transitions, and not expecting them to handle it on their own.

Option 2: Presenter to Presenter

One presenter introduces the next. This is fast and efficient, provided that it is planned and rehearsed in advance. If you have a sequence of short, rapid-fire presentations, having the emcee bounce up and down from the stage can get repetitive. Allowing the presenter to conclude their presentation and briefly introduce the next speaker keeps the line moving without having another transition on and off stage.

This seems to work best when presenters know each other. Different members of a sales team for instance will have a personal relationship that makes introductions easier. It can be awkward to introduce someone you’ve never met - especially when you don’t have any “ownership” of the event. This can be smoothed over with rehearsals where the presenters meet each other and practice the transition. We can also put notes on the confidence monitor or speaker timer to provide reminder cues.

Option 3: Voice of God

The infamous VOG: the disembodied voice that comes over the PA to announce presenters, usually with a music cue playing in the background along with it. VO’s are dead-simple, and remove all of the guesswork for your presenters. It may not be the correct approach for every show, but it helps keep things moving when options 1 and 2 aren’t applicable..

VIP Audio Visual can run VOG’s on any event with a dedicated audio technician. If you can provide a script of the introductions we can pre-record them before your event - otherwise we’ll record onsite given enough time. In an emergency we can do them live, but pre-recording removes a lot of potential for mistakes.

Mix and Match

There’s no rule that says you have to pick one option and stick with it for your entire event. Perhaps presenter to presenter handoffs make sense while introducing your sales playbook, but your VP should act as an emcee for the keynote presentations. Use VOG’s to bring the audience back from break and to get your emcee or first presenter onstage, and then switch to another option. If you’re doing Q&A it does help to have a “boss” onstage who makes the decision to end questions and move on to the next item on the agenda.


These aren’t the only options for handoffs, but they’re the three we see most commonly, The most important thing is to make sure that your event is planned ahead. As long as everyone knows what will happen at the beginning and end of the presentation, your events can run smoothly and professionally.

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Thursday, 17 October 2019

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