Never Overdo Or Underdo Your Act On Stage: Bhavana Bhatia
Read this exclusive interview with anchor Bhavana Bhatia as she delves into the experiences that shaped her growth in the industry and her advice for aspiring emcees
In an exclusive interview with emcee Bhavana Bhatia, we explore the compelling journey that propelled her into the dynamic world of event hosting. Discover the insights and experiences that shaped her professional growth, her observations on the evolution of the industry, and her invaluable advice for aspiring emcees.
How did your journey as an emcee begin? What inspired you to pursue this career path and what was your first gig?
I started my journey in the events field as an emcee in 2007. My first gig was with Sachin Tendulkar, it was the Toshiba Premier League. It was a Pan India Cricket League event wherein I as a host, along with another male anchor, travelled to different cities, hosted the league, and in the finale in Mumbai, is when we met Sachin.
What inspired me was the freedom of communication which I found in this field was a different league of its own. I had been placed in Google, and I was highly scholastic, but I wanted to take a risk back then in terms of being a freelancer. Back then, in 2007, 2008 emcee was not a very well-known profession, it was more about DJ-Ing, RJ-Ing and all those TV anchors only. Live events and emcees were yet to evolve as an industry. I thought I'd give it a shot and in those two, or three years when I gave it a shot, the industry exploded.
What are some changes you've observed in the industry since you started your career as an emcee?
To be very frank, when I started, I was very blessed with the best agencies already. I started when there were agencies like Percept. I have found over the years that the number of agencies which are involved in the events industry has increased. Earlier we used to not have anchor management teams altogether.
The only major difference I found is the anchor management thing. The amount of work has exploded. So earlier we would do three events now the same company would do 20 events. Event guys who were back then, employees of companies are now owning their own companies. As an industry, I think always seen a very professional side to it. I have never seen a huge difference if I must compare from earlier to now.
You would see more specific roles being defined now. You have more people who know what they want to do, and what they have. The importance of an anchor of course has increased.
What about the growth of virtual events post-pandemic? How do you juggle between hosting virtual and live events? Are virtual events not a thing anymore?
Virtual events, during the Pandemic were of course the only way out. I think later, virtual events have only been confined majorly as a hybrid model wherein people are attending virtually as well. Post-pandemic, you would see maybe 5 to 10 per cent of events happening purely virtually.
People prefer hybrid events. Virtual events gave you that outlook that even with 100 people attending, you can tap into an audience of 1000 via virtual event. If you're looking at awards or mega events, you would want a physical event along with virtual attendance.
What role does creativity play in being an effective emcee? How do you infuse creativity into your hosting style?
I would say it's the biggest USP a communicator should have because if you're not creative, then I don't know what one can bring to the table that’s different. Personally, for me, my finesse of work, my pronunciation, and my conduct at an event are very different and something which always has set me apart from everyone. When I go on stage, I have tremendous command not just of my content, but also of communication equally and the subtlety with how you engage. When you have a VP coming in, when you have a person who's winning an award, how do you greet them? Creativity in terms of engagement, how do you not overdo your engagement?
When you're doing an Icebreaker, is it always about just making people clap or is it about doing something different which can appeal to the audience? I feel that a person must do the core study of what the event is and then, according to the event and theme, do something creatively which can create an impact for the event.
For me personally, I feel emcees over the years learn how not to overdo and not to underdo. There's a thin line, it's not about just going on stage and talking for two hours. As a communicator, you should know when to stop. For me, the creativity lies in balancing these two.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you faced as an emcee and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I have faced over the years is differentiating myself, and how I grow as an artist every year. Is my finesse of hosting getting better? Am I able to make impromptu decisions faster? Am I able to conduct myself flawlessly? For me, the challenge has always been that irrespective of whether technical is going off, we've done shows where so many things have gone off fire. My challenge has always been to perfect my hosting.
The second biggest challenge was that in finance-based events, people only preferred male emcees. Over the years I’ve built my own equity and finance portfolio. I have gained some knowledge of it. Now when I conduct an event, they do respect the finance knowledge. They do respect how I conduct an event for them.
I think the segment-wise casting of emcees was a challenge back then, which I have overcome. The third challenge was just people thinking should we even have an emcee? There are still a lot of companies which I feel still have their internal employees as emcees for their events, trying to make them understand how a professional who's been in the industry for so many years can contribute better. I think that's a challenge I'm still working on.
As an experienced emcee, how do you keep yourself updated with the latest trends and techniques in the industry?
When you have industry gatherings, you have content around your own space ensuring that you are well-read as to what's happening in the industry. At the start of the first five years of my industry, maybe I wasn't that up to date because back then we used to not have that many information resources.
Industry events, gatherings, national bodies, all of that. I think just being a part of them and just being a little well-read. Even if you're not able to attend, the fact that you have social media, you have content pieces, and you have WhatsApp groups which are relevant. So I think just being a part of all of that really excites me. it's just about being well-informed, I think platforms like yours definitely help.
What do you think sets apart an exceptional emcee from an average one?
Having grip over your content. If you don't know what you're talking about on stage, you just talk about whatever's coming into your head and you have absolutely no idea of the content. People who are sitting in the audience, one has to always remember that they are the experts in the field. How can an emcee who's representing the stage not have any knowledge? Having knowledge about every industry is very important.
Second is, of course, finesse and the way you talk, your hold on communication. Third is creativity, ensuring that you are as creative as you can get.
Sometimes in a month, we have ten events or 20 events. You might be travelling to different cities and countries, hosting gigs, but every show is very important for the client, an emcee, irrespective of how busy they are, has to ensure that they put in maximum effort in every show.
What would you say your vision is for the future of the profession and how do you see it evolving?
My vision is very clear that emcees, as the field grows, we're able to grow as an industry. In future, I would want Indian emcees to represent India in different domains across the world. I've cracked a few countries, but I still see the world as a big ocean. I am more excited about the talents from India travelling globally and mastering the skill of communication.
For me, the vision lies in global exposure and bigger events, more technical events, something wherein AI and different technologies come on board. I can see different countries contributing towards global events, and more international companies coming to India and honouring our talent as well.
Finally, what advice would you like to give to aspiring emcees?
My advice would be, however much it looks easy, it’s not. It's about being up to date with how the industry is shaping and being able to meaningfully add your piece of information when you're on stage. Always remember that when you are on stage, you have command and control. So do not waste any opportunity. When you're on stage, ensure you give it all you have.
Passion and vision are very important. If you do not know why you're in this field and what your end goal is, just like any other field, this is not something one should pursue. One has to be passionate and every year you have to analyse what you've done and have a career plan for your next.
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