I Want To Be Known As The Industry's 'All-rounder': Pratap Batra
As a part of this ongoing series, Everything Experiential ropes in seasoned emcee Pratap Batra for an exclusive interview where he shares insights into industry trends, his plans for the future and advice for aspiring emcees among more
As a part of this ongoing series, Everything Experiential ropes in seasoned emcee Pratap Batra for an exclusive interview. Batra shares the story of his journey into the world of event hosting and unveils the meticulous preparation behind diverse events, from lively weddings to corporate gatherings. With insights into emerging industry trends, Batra outlines plans for a podcast venture. He shares his advice for young professionals wanting to enter the event hosting space among much more.
What inspired you to become an emcee?
I have an early memory. I was about 18 or 19 years old when I was working for a company that used to make stage setups for big events. We were in Bombay in a five-star hotel for the setup and I was asked to fetch someone from the ballroom. The moment I entered the ballroom, the prelims of the Miss India contest were going on. I was kind of pretty taken aback because there was this audience on the left-hand side and there was the anchor on the right-hand side. The audience seemed hypnotised by the anchor who was speaking very well and there were lights and everything. So, that image just stayed in my mind, that's how the seed was sown.
How do you prepare for different kinds of events?
Weddings are straightforward. You have to have fun, you can't think much about those, the idea is to give and take with the audience. Of course, you should know the names of the important people, the families, the bride, the groom, but more importantly, one should be in the frame of mind of having fun and being flexible.
If it's a corporate event, then I have a larger picture in mind. I try and understand what exactly the event is for. Once I know the big picture, then all my actions on stage are aligned with that. Everything I do has to inspire the audience because that is the big takeaway of the event.
You must be very careful in corporate events and you have to be very thorough with the show flow. You also have to know who is who, all the names in the leadership, important people in the audience and more.
What challenges would you say that you have faced initially while hosting events, and how did you overcome some of these challenges?
One challenge that I faced initially, was that there used to be gaps in between. The event manager would say, just go and do something on stage for two or three minutes. I didn’t know what exactly to do back then. I used to do some random activities, but then I realised that it was better to do something which is connected to the event or the people in attendance in such instances. I started reading as much about the event as possible and also started getting information on who the people there were. What their hobbies are, what they like, what they dislike.
Even if you have to go and do something on stage for four to five minutes, then it should be relatable and connected to what we are doing at the event.
What role does spontaneity play in your hosting style?
Spontaneity is very important, not only in anchoring but in any performing art. You must have that quality if you want to be good at any performing art. I use spontaneity because I do not want the events to get monotonous. For instance, recently I was doing an award show where a 19-year-old boy was getting an award. As he walked on stage, he had a different kind of walk. So, I just said to the audience that I like his walk and he will be somebody one day. The audience started laughing and that moment broke the monotony. After that, when I called the next speaker on stage, he had a smile on his face.
If the audience doesn’t enjoy the event, the speakers won't engage with the audience, but if they see that the anchor is being spontaneous, trying to enjoy himself and giving his best. Then they also try to give their best.
You need spontaneity but you must be very careful not to overdo it. You have to know when to stop.
What are qualities that are essential for being a successful emcee?
The main job of the anchor is to bridge the gap between himself and the audience. You cannot try to pretend to be an anchor, you have to be your natural self on stage. However, you have to be a little bit larger than life. Either through your voice, the way you look, the way you present yourself, the way you interact or a mixture of those.
Even when you are being yourself, the audience is aspiring to be like you, they’re always inspired by you.
As an anchor, how do you strike a balance between being professional and building a rapport with the audience?
Building a rapport with the audience is part of being a professional anchor. Depending on the tenor of the event, if it's a very formal event, it could just be a normal smile. You smile at the audience and try to develop a rapport, just like how you smile at someone at a party and there is a wall that breaks.
In more casual scenarios, I sometimes walk up on stage to the centre and before I go onto the podium, I ask the audience if I have their permission to begin the event. I’ll do different variations where I ask only the ladies present if they want me to begin the event and then only the gentlemen, once I get their response I ask the crowd collectively once again. I like to break the ice that way.
Sometimes I enter the event from the back of the auditorium, where the audience enters. As I'm walking up to the stage, I start talking to people so, by the time I'm on stage, we already have a rapport and yet I'm being professional. Of course, you have to vet this all from the agency and the client.
What trends do you see in the event hosting industry right now, what trends do you think will take shape in the coming future and how do you plan to adapt to them?
The social media trend is going to continue. I see now that everyone's using social media platforms to aggressively promote themselves as anchors. I'm planning to start a podcast and will use it as a marketing tool for myself. I will launch that very soon especially because I have radio experience of about 10 years.
Do you have any tips for aspiring emcees who want to excel in this field?
Everyone who wants to be an anchor first has to know how to sound good on the mic. It is very critical. Many people have a good voice but amplifying that voice on the mic is a completely different art. That takes practice, the right pitch and the right throw. I see so many anchors they start shouting to infuse energy into the event and then in ten minutes, they are completely tired.
You should also have a personality that makes the audience feel like you want to be a part of them. If you don't have it, you can inculcate it just by good body language.
What legacy do you hope to leave in the event-hosting industry?
I want to be known as the all-rounder in the industry. I've had such varied exposure to different mediums like radio, anchoring, voiceovers and more. I think that the more one can do, the better it is which is why I say all-rounder.
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