If you've been a frequent reader on the Hawkins blog, you've probably seen me post about Living Young & Free. I've asked Cheryl to write up a post and you need to check this out, including an episode of their show at the bottom!

My name is Cheryl Wiens. I am a Program Manager for Currency Marketing, and of my multi-faceted job description, one of my favorite roles is playing the Host of the Living Young & Free Show.

The LYFS is focused on giving the 25 and under crowd tips, tricks and hacks to get the most out of your money. Young & Free is a credit union movement that gives young people a voice, a head start and useful information. For the whole story on Young & Free you can click here.

Matt asked me to share a bit about how I got into hosting, my behind the scenes work, and what I’ve learned. And since a) I generally do what I’m asked b) I was flattered by the asking and c) I like breaking things down into 3 points…. Here we go!

My Jump into Being a Host

First off, if you compare my social network profiles, or my bio on Currency’s website, you will see that my typical “about me” section includes something along the lines of: • I believe sounds effects often describe better than words. • The concept of "inside voices" eludes me and I laugh extremely loud-often at inappropriate times... • I do the best chipmunk Christmas song impression you will ever hear. • I like CUs, laughing, and pushing buttons to see what they do • I come armed with a great sense of humour and a muppet-sized smile

To sum up, I am not a shy person, I like being loud and ridiculous, and I like to take a humorous or light approach to things. So when we started discussing the idea of putting together a show to discuss financial topics in a way that is fun and relevant for Gen Y (my generation) I wanted to be involved.

Because the show was to be a collaboration of segments from multiple people in multiple places – all of which would rotate through over time – it was agreed that we needed a host in order to lend the show some consistency, create a professionally presented piece, and to tie the segments together in a somewhat smooth fashion.

I would love to say that I bested a plethora of competition for the position, but in reality I landed the part by believing I could do a great job at it and volunteering myself (and being the only Gen Yer at Currency didn’t hurt my chances).

Behind the Scenes

What happens behind the scenes? A lot of laughter, random accents, and discussions with Tim (my boss and co-producer) on how much I am willing to embarrass myself that episode.

But before all that, we start with ideas.

Along with being the host I am also the content editor. I come up with the ideas (often with input from coworkers, friends and family) and assign them to our spokesters, complete with deadlines. As an editor I strive to come up with content that has the ability to be entertaining as well as educational, can be delivered in a tight, efficient 2 minute segment, and will be relevant to our audience. The spokesters are asked to come back to me with how they will approach their topic/assignment, I respond with either some direction for improvement or approval, and they get to filming.

Once we receive the segments from our spokespeople, I watch them and brainstorm fun transition sequences to film for placement between the segments. A lot of these concepts are tweaked or changed completely during the filming process as doing one take will give me an idea for how it can be better.

After we have filmed all of my segments, Tim edits all the pieces together and then we review the final product. The process typically includes discussion on what needs to be included and what can be cut, the artwork to be included (titling etc), and background music/sound effects.

The segment is finished, uploaded to our various players, and the process starts all over again.

What I’ve Learned (so far)

Improvisation makes for some of the best content I believe the best ideas are born out of trying other ideas. A lot of what I end up with, starts off as a joke or sarcastic comment in response to my first take.

Zero preparation or thought is not the same thing as improvisation It is one thing to be open to going “off script” and being flexible with your creative approach, it’s another thing entirely to have no script or starting point. Preparation gives you substance; with it you have something to work from, without it you’re just going to run all over the place.

Get over your fear of making a fool of yourself. It will happen. The combination of emceeing a lot of weddings, and hosting this show, has provided me with a lot of self-awareness. I realized that not everyone will “get” my sense of humour, my facial expressions look weirder than I often realize, and you can’t please everyone in your audience – and I am ok with that. When you are comfortable with yourself, others feel more comfortable with you.

Always consider your audience Whether thinking of topics for the show, or filming my segments, I always try to put myself in the position of my audience. Would I find this relevant? Would this feel overplayed? In tandem with this, and just as important…

Identify your TRUE audience This is especially important on the B2B side of the marketing and production industry. Often when you are making a creative piece for a client, you can get so focused on pleasing the client that you forget the intended audience: their clients. With the LYFS, we want our partnering credit unions to be happy with the finished product, but the most important opinion is that of our audience – Gen Y. If it is relevant, useful and entertaining to them, then I’ve done my job. If I can make them laugh in between, all the better, even if it is laughing at me.

If you have any questions or want to know more you can email cwiens@currencymarketing.ca; or find me on twitter @cherylwiens