Pro MC Shares the One Thing You Need to Entertain an Audience
I’ve been a master of ceremonies (MC) at Clean Comedians for more than five years now, and during that time I’ve learned quite a lot about the art ― yes, I consider it an art and not just a career ― of emceeing. One of the most important lessons I learned was just how crucial an MC is to the success of the whole event. No matter how bad an event is, a good MC can save it. No matter how good the event is, a bad MC can ruin it.
So what is the one thing you need to do to be successful as an MC at an event? Stay in control. That’s it. All you need is to stay in control, even when the unexpected occurs and everything will be just fine. That’s it, end of article. Bye.
OK, OK, I’m just joking. Of course, you would like me to elaborate on what exactly staying in control entails. Well, there are a few tips that help you to be an in-control MC from the beginning to the end.
Have a Clearly Defined Role
The fact of the matter is that you won’t play one but many roles. You’ll have to read speaker introductions as well as write remarks for them. You’ll have to tell a few timely and appropriate jokes to keep the audience in a good mood, and so on. Each organization has its own intricacies, so make sure you and the organizers are clear about your roles and responsibilities before you accept the job.
Prepare Your Speakers
This depends entirely on whether it’s part of your role, of course. However, if it is, you will have to do it thoroughly. Make sure you find out everything you can about the event weeks or months in advance, including the logistics, the way the stage is set up, the dress code, and so on. Make sure all the speakers are informed if any changes occur so that there aren’t any surprises.
First Impressions Matter
In this case, the first impressions I’m talking about are the opening remarks. These will set the tone for the rest of the event, so you should make them count. You need to make sure your confidence and energy radiate through you and match the spirit and essence of the event. That way, you set the tone for everyone that comes after. No “ahs” and “umms” or bad ad-libbed jokes or problems with the PA system that you are only just discovering now. Make sure you can read your remarks and make sure you choose the right words for the theme.
Don’t Wing it
Prepare your introductions in advance. Make them short and relevant. Don’t come up with them on the spot because the crowd will probably be able to tell when you’re winging things. Have an introduction for each speaker and read it with confidence. Don’t make off-the-cuff jokes as they can do more harm than good. If you’re going to crack any jokes, then prepare them in advance and make sure you think hard about their relevance to the event and the audience you will be dealing with.
Rehearse on Site
This is important if the event is going to run smoothly. Rehearsing on the very stage where you will be emceeing helps you to get in the vibe of things and allows you to own the stage. You can also do light checks and sound checks while you’re at it to avoid surprises on the material day.
Emceeing certainly has its challenges, but there aren’t many of them that can’t be solved with a bit of preparation and control. By being prepared for whatever may come and staying in control, you will get your audience to relax and enjoy the event.