It’s not just about survival of the fittest but the survival of the redefined: Shikha Singh
To keep the online spotlight game strong & to create more impactful connections through screen requires innovations in icebreaking and brevity of content altogether, says Anchor, Content Curator and Conversationalist, Shikha Singh.
Grasping the attention of the audience has become even more challenging in the virtual format of events. However, Anchor Shikha Singh has been able to tide through these challenges effortlessly in the past months of the transition. She considers that standardisation is passé and an artist needs to keep evolving.
Curating her own self to come up with a newer version each time, she believes in creative enhancement, the latest being her penchant for voice acting, learning vogue workout forms, singing and acting.
In a recent chat with BW Applause and Everything Experiential, Anchor, Content Curator and Conversationalist, Shikha Singh shared with us her journey through the pandemic, adapting to digital events, her recent virtual events and more.
How have the past months of the pandemic been for you?
Well, I think the word ‘unprecedented’ got redefined in this pandemic for all of us. The world of virtual gave me a big hug right at the start of April 2020 and since then a constant influx of work that I love doing kept me sane throughout the year. The past months looks like a concoction of doubts, mindfulness, WFH hosting assignments, home workouts, craving for a ‘real’ social life, mortality fears, self-discovery writing, hope, home-cooked food, PJs on off days, tie-ups for welfare work and love for life that kept it so far so good. Most importantly I realised how gratitude is a form of liberation. We must count even our little-most blessings!
With everything happening online, the live events industry went through a big transformation as well. How did you adapt to this change?
Often while raising curtains at on-ground live shows, I used to talk to my audiences about how it’s not just about survival of the fittest but the survival of the redefined. With everything almost happening online, I had to testify to my self-formulated adage. Since I was an early starter in this transition era, I managed the transit smoothly with the help of my clients and also viewers, yes! Feedbacks have always been paramount to me. From using a light bulb at the dawn of virtual events in lockdown to gradually owning a professional virtual speaking set-up, the adaptation ride for me hasn’t been too bumpy. If that sounds like an unusual take, allow me to tell you the ‘why’. The core of my job still remains the same, that is, to establish ‘Connect’ with my Audiences. The other changes that the virtual world proffers are manageable crests and troughs.
Content being the DNA of my craft, I dovetailed skills to focus on the art of sounding natural on-screen by memorizing, using a Teleprompter or naturally glancing through self-made pointers. In the era of digital fatigue, to make my distracted audience 'listen' I did not over-aim and wanted them to remember precise takeaways from my show. Sticking to my own persona further helped me hosting in these unanticipated times that we’re all in.
Tell us about some of your recent events.
From hosting the nationally most-awarded virtual series of ITC Mom’s Magic encompassing legendary singers to Adobe’s larger-than-life experiential shows such as ‘Learn from Legends’, to doing live screen workouts with Mandira Bedi & Yasmin Karachiwala to doing mammoth Tech events to also doing Facebook Lives with Farmers of India for Cropscience events, empathy and hope seemed to be the driving force of events I’ve hosted of late.
Apart from Brands that I've worked with for on-ground shows, brands that have cast me to write & e-host conferences, awards, employee meets for them are Adobe, Femina, HPE, ITC, Policy Bazaar, ET Edge, Yotta, Unicharm, Bayer, Indian Express, TOI, Hitachi, Cisco, Elite CIO Council etc. Public Figures I've e-introduced and e-interviewed are R Madhavan, Anil Kapoor, Lara Dutta, Adam Gilchrist, Prasoon Joshi, PV Sindhu, Sushmita Sen, Glenn McGrath, Vidya Balan, Brian Lara, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Neena Gupta, Soha Ali Khan, Kunal Ganjawala, corporate and government stalwarts and the like.
Has the online transition made your job easy? Tell us some of the positives of hosting events online?
Aah, no way except just saving some travel time & bottoms dressing-up (although I did that too since I like to be in my full-blown work gear), and yes the after-effects of a pair of 5-inch heels for 6 hours plus! The online transition is rather more of a hustle with its accompanied dry run life, as I call it!
On a more worthwhile note, geography isn’t a bar for online shows so the audience reach gets a ten on ten there. With the second or probably third wave of pandemic, hosting events online is a safer, cosier and quicker mode. Plus, I can be at two or more places virtually on the same day, however there’s nothing like shaking hands with the guests for real! Further, the learning on how the content, looks, body language, movements & pitch has to be even more subtly modulated in an online environment, is a positive. I feel my presence of mind has been vetted furthermore! As an artist, we need to understand standardisation is passé & keep evolving, this change has been the best teacher so far!
Tell us some of the challenges that you have faced while hosting virtual events.
First one that I recount has to be when once for 20 seconds my otherwise steadfast internet dropped and gave me a mini attack. Thankfully it was my guest, Kunal Kapoor who was talking then and by the time my turn came I was all set to roll. So yes, sometimes such unpremeditated things happen, let’s learn to deep breathe and keep a Plan B ready in case of unforeseen technical glitches.
Average human attention span has reduced to roughly 8 secs. To keep the online spotlight game strong & to create more impactful connections through screen requires innovations in icebreaking and brevity of content altogether. More of a Heart-Brain sync is required while working with event tech companies, keeping in mind the timeliness of live patching the speakers, greeting them in the backend, engaging your audience the next second, WhatsApp co-ordination pop-ups and more than anything else playing the role of a ‘Crisis Manager’ or a ‘Troubleshooter’ while you’re at your job of being the Anchor there. And yes, I’ve to be my own ‘no-complaints, go-getter Operations guy’ to see my frame, adjust the ring lights, get my notes printed & even click my own pictures using a timer set on the phone that’s smugly mounted on a tripod. Well, it’s also a little tricky to assess the 'Audience Pulse' virtually however the ‘Comment Section’ helps to some extent. Prior dry run & rapport-building with celebrity guest/speakers is pivotal since there’s no actual meeting them. A host’s vulnerability while weaving all these elements helps keep it real.
What are you looking forward to in the year 2021?
As an Anchor & Content Curator, I am absolutely looking forward to resume work that I do while being even more intentional and authentic. Waiting for on-ground magic to begin full-blown as we #opensafeeventstosaveevents. As part of personal goals, I can’t wait to further establish myself as a Welfare Worker and a Movement Enthusiast as I’d like to call myself.
I wish this year to have more substance for all of us and as I always love to say, “Have a happy heart-set, health-set and soul-set, everyone”. Year 2021 must usher in health and happiness for us!
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