If you’re nervous about stepping on stage, you’re not alone. 75% of people suffer from speech anxiety, which is a sizeable portion of the general population. For your upcoming gala dinner, you need to be sure that you have all your ducks in a row, especially if you’re the host for the evening!
At a glance
- It’s important to take plenty of time before your annual dinner event to plan and prepare. That way, you can show up ready to give your best.
- As the event kicks off, as the emcee, you’ll likely give your first speech around this time as people filter in.
- Keep in mind that, as the event’s MC, it’s up to you to ensure people feel welcomed and stay entertained!
- Always remember that you can’t use the same script for every event. You’ll need to change it up and adjust it in order to reflect your unique audience and organization.
Each organization deserves to put together a killer event for their employees, but that’s only possible with the perfect Master of Ceremonies at the helm. So, if you’re booked as a speaker for an annual dinner event, this script will be your saving grace.
Keep reading, and I’ll share some of my tips, tricks, and scripts for an annual event. This is coming from an experienced corporate emcee, so you can trust what I say!
An example of what the flow of the evening might look like
When it comes to any event, the key to success lies in preparation. If you’re adequately organized for the big evening, it’s more likely than not to be a hit!
Whether you’re an event organizer or a keynote speaker, it’s important to spend time beforehand getting acquainted with what a typical program might look like.
So, let’s break it down.
Your event will likely be kicked off with guests arriving. Event staff, volunteers, or even you yourself will be present and taking plenty of time to greet guests as they enter. This will help establish a comfortable and warm environment before the festivities even begin.
Keep in mind that, depending on how your event is set up, your guests might also need to take time to check in at the registration table and receive favors, name tags, and/or seating cards. Be sure to help guide people there if they need assistance.
As people enter, the guests are likely starting to mingle. Networking is an important part of any corporate event, and that stays true for gala dinners!
Perhaps at this time, dinner is served either in a buffet style or as plated dishes. It should go without saying that finding the perfect food choices is an integral part of a gala dinner.
As things progress, presentations will likely start to unfold. As the emcee, you’ll likely start your act at this point. Otherwise, there will maybe be speeches from other speakers or an awards ceremony, depending on what type of event this really is.
Once dinner is wrapped up, maybe dessert is served along with coffee and tea. This seemingly minor detail is essential for helping guests continue to feel comfortable and taken care of.
Now, the fun begins.
Once everyone is fed and full, the entertainment for the evening can begin. As the night’s emcee, if you haven’t stepped on stage yet, this is now your time to shine!
Perhaps there is music and dancing, or maybe your role will be to lead everyone in some fun, team-building activities. Regardless of what the rest of the night entails, your job as an emcee is just getting started.
A great MC knows how to coax the festivities to success while ensuring that everyone has a great time. One of your biggest responsibilities is making sure that the fun never ends!
As the event wraps up, you’ll likely give a good night speech, thanking everyone for attending and for the contributions from sponsors or help from volunteers. It’s important to not leave anyone out, as you don’t want anyone walking away with a sour taste in their mouth. Once again, it’s up to you to ensure that everyone feels comfortable, welcomed, and appreciated at all times.
How to make your mark as a great EMCEE
Being a fantastic emcee isn’t as easy as it might seem. In fact, it’s much more challenging than you might expect.
It takes plenty of time, effort, and hard work in order to be a successful public speaker. Whether you’re sitting on a panel or you’re the event’s keynote speaker, be sure to do your due diligence when it comes to practice and preparation.
If you’re looking forward to your next gala dinner, I have a few tips and tricks that will help you be that much better when it comes time to step on stage. I’ll break it down with the acronym EMCEE: Exude confidence, Make it about the crowd, Clean up your act, Encourage participation, and Empower the other speakers.
- Exude confidence: You shouldn’t walk on stage meek and meager. Instead, radiating confidence will help establish you as a trusted speaker while engaging the guests with a wonderful performance.
- Make it about the crowd: Now is not the time for you to try and show off. Make the gala dinner about the organization you’re representing and about making your guests feel their best.
- Clean up your act: Be sure to avoid any profanity or anything unsavory in your act. You should only use clean rhetoric in order to keep people comfortable. That’s the bread and butter of an incredible performance!
- Encourage participation: The worst thing that can happen at your gala dinner is having a dead crowd. It’s up to you to make engagement and participation a priority.
- Empower the other speakers: Most likely, you’re not the only face the audience will see on stage. Be sure to take time to empower the other speakers so that the guests can see a united front.
Example emcee scripts for an annual dinner event
Now that we’ve covered plenty of background information, it’s time to dive into the meat and potatoes of what makes a great script for an annual dinner.
What’s important to keep in mind is that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all script. Anyone who uses and reuses the same script over and over for their events is likely losing the audience early on. After all, each event is unique, and you need to reflect that in your script.
With that in mind, let me give you a quick run-down of what your emcee script might look like for a gala dinner.
(1) Sample introduction or opening speech
In this scenario, there are two emcees. So, if you are joined on stage with another speaker, you’ll be able to create a great dynamic on stage. This warm opening speech is a great way to start the evening.
- Speaker 1: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Thank you for coming out this evening, and welcome to our annual company meeting gala dinner. My name is [your name], and I am thrilled to be one of your MCs for this evening. On stage with me is [co-emcee’s name].
- Speaker 2: Thanks, [your name]! We are both so excited to be here to celebrate another year of success with all of you at [organization’s name].
- Speaker 1: Before we begin, let’s take a moment to send a special thank you to a few of our special guests and VIPs who will be joining us this evening. It’s an honor to have all of you here!
- Speaker 2: At our dinner this year, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the efforts of our team. We’ll be sure to focus on the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Together, as a united team, we’ll be able to accomplish even more as we enter the next year!
- Speaker 1: That’s right, [co-emcee’s name]! So, we’ll let you enjoy this delicious meal, and then we’ll dive into celebrating the accomplishments of the past year. Feel free to mingle, and we’ll be back!
- Speaker 2: We hope you enjoy the rest of your evening, and we look forward to celebrating with you all night long. Bye!
(2) Sample introduction or opening speech
- Speaker 1: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! We’re more than pleased to be here on stage on behalf of [organization’s name], and we would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you. Thank you for taking the time to join us tonight for our annual company meeting gala dinner. We are thrilled to have each and every one of you here!
- Speaker 2: Tonight’s event is a chance to celebrate the success of the past year. It’s also the perfect opportunity for us all to come together and bask in the warm glow of our accomplishments. This past year was challenging, but it was all more than worth it in the end. Thank you to all of the employees here at [organization’s name] for their continued hard work and dedication. We all look forward to the next year together!
- Speaker 1: Tonight’s theme is [the chosen theme for the evening]. Tonight is all about [expand on what the event’s theme is all about]. We’re so excited to take this time to celebrate our successes as a team, and we all are looking forward to the opportunities that lie in the next year.
- Speaker 2: We have an enlightening and entertaining evening planned for you in order to truly celebrate the past year. We’ll begin shortly with [the opening entertainment for the evening] and then dive into the rest of the festivities as they come.
- Speaker 1: But before we get started, we want to take a moment to acknowledge some of our special guests and VIPs who are here. We are honored to have you all here, and we truly appreciate your continued support through the next year.
- Speaker 2: Now, we’ll let you enjoy your delicious meal this evening and give you a chance to mingle and meet!
- Speaker 1: Thanks, [co-emcee’s name]! And now, without further ado, let’s raise a glass to another year of success. Cheers!
(3) Sample introduction or opening speech
Here’s an example of an opening speech where there is only one emcee – you!
Speaker 1: Good evening to all our respected guests and VIPs this evening. Welcome! My name is [your name], and I want to take a moment to share a few words and give a special shoutout to [names of special guests], who [something notable about these people]. Your work is deeply appreciated.
This past year has been nothing short of extraordinary, and we’ve all accomplished some amazing feats. Everyone who is here tonight has played an integral role in the profound success of [organization’s name], and I want to take a moment to extend a meaningful thank you to everyone in the crowd.
As we continue to strive for greatness in this upcoming year, I want to remind all of you to continue with the fire that carried you and your teammates to success. Tonight is the chance to revel in your accomplishments and treat yourself, starting with this delicious meal!
But that’s not all. Tonight, we are also celebrating the success of [mention a specific accomplishment, such as meeting an awesome sales goal]. All this would not be possible without the continued hard work and dedication of every single employee here today.
Let’s give a big round of applause to all of you!
Keep Reading: 7 Workplace Hospitality Tips From A Corporate Emcee
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.