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Compering Performing Stand up

Audiences, authenticity and attention to detail

Having run lots of events I know how hard it is to pull a successful ‘do’ together. Booking performers, managing ticket sales, bringing in catering and often sweeping up afterwards. It’s a stressful business.

Today, I’m fortunate that all I have to worry about is performing but experience has taught me a successful event doesn’t happen by accident. Last night was one of those moments – Gossip Girl Gang IWD2020 delivered in spades. But what made it so special?

An attentive audience

With the event having sold out, organiser Rachel Bradley had to reconfigure the space to fit everyone comfortably. And because she’s worked so hard to create a community, and had clearly communicated the quality of the speakers, everyone was invested in making the most of the evening. From ‘solopreneurs’ to people who work for multinational companies, they all wanted the opportunity to learn from some phenomenal female founders.

As host and stand up for the evening, it gave me an audience to die for. The ladies were open, eager and – thanks to fizz on arrival – well up for joining in and having a laugh.

Authentic stories

What was so striking about the panel was their willingness to share extremely personal aspects of their career journeys. Getting beyond “Yay, go you!” into the real-life challenges that inspired them to set up their own organisations, and the difficulties that they’ve encountered along the way, made for a more interesting, relatable conversation. It is very easy to look at leaders at the top of their game and only see the success – yes, Scamp & Dude is stocked in Liberty and Selfridges but I challenge you to read Jo’s story without welling up.

Joy from Tech Pixies spoke movingly about the impact of the death of her father and being unemployable as a pregnant woman living in a country where she didn’t speak the language. Did she hide herself away for her own personal pity-party? No. She decided to set up a community to help others who found themselves in the same position. And then she created an organisation to help young people at risk of unemployment. And then she founded Tech Pixies, a business that helps women carve out new careers for themselves via free social media training. Awesome.

And as for Sarah…. Well, she founded Smart Works Reading after volunteering for Smart Works London. She loved the work but found the commute a challenge. Where many of us would have looked for something else, Sarah instead created a branch of the charity closer to home that has so far helped 1500+ women back into the workplace. And earned her an MBE in the process.

So what did I do? Well my role was to warm people up and keep the conversation flowing. I brought people into my world of hand gestures and village life and demonstrated that you can combine tough conversations with having a laugh. Here is my “You are all village people now!” face:

It’s all about the detail

From the branded goodie bags to the carefully selected panel to getting local suppliers to provide the refreshments, Rachel had everything covered. And then I opened the gift bag she’d given me and found it contained a bottle of fizz that was not only from a local business but branded especially for her event – now that’s attention to detail!

All photos in this post (apart from the Prosecco shot – sounds a bit rude that!) are (c) Jon Bradley Photography

On Insta? Follow all the people in this post! BTW – this is not sponsored, I’m just nice like that – call it my ‘value add’.

Need an event compere, stand up or panel host who is as professional as they are funny? Then you need look no further. Let’s talk – email me at toni@tonikent.co.uk

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