A pair of Richards
Another long-term client required a few tweaks to keep things fresh this year. This time we were talking about the IPENZ Transportation Group who we have helped out in 2014 and 2015. In the past I've normally MCed their conference days as myself but this time we wanted to try something different to keep things fresh. So I appeared as per usual for the first day conferencing - suit, tie, the usual business as required by this particular conference.
And then we changed it up...
The theme was Innovation for this year but I also made it a bit of a Richard theme by MCing the next couple of days in character as a pair of Richards - Richard Pearse on the Tuesday and Sir Richard Taylor on the Wednesday. Up until this particular conference we've held off on doing any character MCing during the day because the engineer types might have found it a bit jarring. But I've spent enough time with them now for them to get used to the way I do things and so character MCs for the day sessions did the opposite - rather than becoming stale and too comfortable this kept things fresh.
Playing Richard Pearse was the easier of the two assignments. He's been dead for a bit and there was no-one there who could really compare me to the real deal. Sir Richard was a little more difficult - he gets reasonable amounts of media exposure and people have a bit of an idea who he is. Luckily I've met him a fair few times over the years so I thought I did an OK Richard Taylor. One of the speakers from that day who had worked with him seemed to think so.
The fact that for both days the speakers were happy to play along and have fun with the two characters really helped. At least one of them wove my character into their presentation so it really helps get the character embedded in the day.
By contrast, for the Gala Dinner which I normally do in character we swapped around. Just me in a dinner suit.
It's always good keeping things fresh for long term clients and sometimes it can be as simple as swapping around how you do things. Getting buy-in from the other components of the day also helps. Sometimes people are a bit afraid to let speakers and presenters in on things like that for fear it may throw them. But I've found that some presenters get up in front of conferences a bit and being intorduced in a new way is often as nice a change for them as it is for the audience.