Godsil. You were able to inspire about 100 people to respectfully listen to about 15 speakers, some who were rather shy and/or low keyed, on a night usually filled with raucous conversation. How did that happen?
Kelly. You mean the crowd doesn’t cooperate every year? Then I’d have to say I got lucky! Honestly, I’m not sure what happens when I host events. I’d like to think it’s my charm that keeps people engaged, but it’s probably the fact we all have no idea what might come out of my mouth next.
Godsil. How did you wind up the emcee?
Kelly. I was invited to participate by Sura. I’m grateful because the Riverwest family is a network I’ve only observed from the fringes for many years. I enjoyed being a part of the energy!
Godsil. How would you explain your ability to create so graceful a crowd?
Kelly. I think everybody wants to feel comfortable when they’re part of an audience. Even if the group knows what to expect from the production, they don’t always know what to anticipate on that day. My style is to be disarming and congenial, serving as an audience ambassador and not just another element of the entertainment. My role is to tend to their energy and attentions, not just bring on the next act. Once the audience trusts that commitment —whether or not they name it as such— a magical connection happens and the audience is more inclined to stay engaged (and behave themselves!).