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7 Tips For The Master Of Ceremonies

MC'ing events and conferences at the top professional level is a real blast. The fundamental key is to make everyone else look like stars...then you'll shine along with them. Forget the 'Do's and Don'ts' lists - think positively, and just do the 'Do's'!

Do: Research the event.

The more information you have, the more relaxed you will be and prepared for eventualities. Is this an annual event? If so, what did last year's MC do? If it's a wedding, obtaining some back-history on the couple and their friends makes a lot of sense.

You may find that you don't need to use this information specifically in your role, but the more knowledge you have, the more prepared you will be.

Do: Make early and professional contact with your main team.

On the corporate side, this is AV companies, event companies, keynote speakers, presenters and venue staff. For private functions this could be wedding planners, committees, club members etc.

Having great relationships in place ensures you are more likely to be able to enlist their help if needed, and means you are better prepared for any issues on the day.

Do: Case the joint.

Take time to walk the venues, the stage and other performance areas. Where are the bathrooms? What are the health and safety rules in the particular venue you are in?

Walking the route your delegates will take when using the above info will ensure you are able to give them the exact information, when they need it. If speaking to a group is new to you, spend time on stage visualizing the crowd and rehearse how you will address them.

Do: Acknowledge key support, particularly the sponsors.

I cannot stress how important this point is. Without sponsorship, conferences and events just cannot take place, and very likely, they will not be able to afford you!

Give the sponsors as much air-time as you can and find innovative ways to maximize their exposure. For any event, the function is supported by a number of groups; caterers, venue staff, organizational helpers etc. Make it part of your role to acknowledge them publically.

Do: Obtain each speaker's specific introduction script.

Professional speakers know exactly how they want to be introduced, and lay-speakers will benefit from being asked the right questions about their presentation.

Not only will you be prepared for their time-slot, but you'll be a legend in their eyes when you rattle off a specific, professional introduction that makes them look fantastic.

At the other end of the scale, listen carefully to their presentation -when the time comes to thank the speaker, you'll be prepared with a succinct summing-up of their presentation as part of your outro.

Do: Have a backup plan.

Conferences and functions are dynamic, flowing events. Not everything goes to plan and the professional MC has an option up his sleeve to cover any late or no-show speakers that is in-keeping with the theme and feel of the conference or event.

Weddings in particular are well known for large time-lags. Discuss these eventualities with the key participants before the event and ensure everyone is aware of the possibilities.

Do: Use appropriate humour.

And that doesn't mean playing to the lowest common denominator. Every audience deserves your respect and ability to entertain without resorting to off-colour material. If in doubt, choose something non-offensive. HANDY HINT - jokes where the audience don't see the punch-line coming are the most effective.

You can go one further and research specific jokes, energisers, one-liners etc that are geared towards the industry or event you are performing at.

Bonus 8th tip:

Do: Enjoy every minute!

Although the MC's aim should be to be almost transparent to the audience, you really are the person making the difference at the front of the room, the one who will be the lynch-pin, the captain of the ship and getting it right as a professional MC will pay huge dividends for your future.

May all your events go smooth!

With a small amount of focused effort, your sterling performance will be noted and you'll be inundated with requests to host meetings and events. The above tips are only a hint at the possibilities for the professional (and professional-like) MC or meeting convener.

Take every opportunity to learn from other professionals around you and you'll soon find yourself in demand.

Article by : Greg Ward