Are You Planning a Conference? Make it Shine with a Professional Master of Ceremonies!
I have hosted more than 1,000 events and conferences. I have worked with hundreds of organizations. I have seen firsthand what makes an event a successful one—and let me tell you this: One of the most important factors is hiring a fantastic event MC.
At A Glance
Your ideal MC will:
- Keep your event running smoothly.
- Ensure that all audience members are having a great time!
- Create audience engagement and provide an interactive experience for your team.
- Inject energy and excitement throughout the event.
There are many impactful things a professional emcee can do to make you look good and make your conference planning the best it can be.
Most important of all, the best emcees will… Heighten the feeling of community within your group.
See Related: 7 Simple Ways To Build Rapport With Your Audience
10 Things Your Expert Emcee Can Do To Make This A Successful Conference
A professional emcee will make a personal connection with your target audience via personal anecdotes and stories that are relevant to your conference themes, company products or service, and key leadership.
Without a professional emcee, your conference and planning team will lack a sense of unity, energy, and effectiveness. It’s true! A great emcee can make for a successful conference.
As an event planner or meeting producer, consider these 10 “E Keys” when hiring the perfect master of ceremonies for your next convention, conference, or multi-day meeting.
#1. EXPERT support
Pro tip: If your emcee won’t take the time to talk to you before your conference, don’t hire him for your event! Professional hosts will assist you with:
- Creating your “R.O.S.” (Run of Show or Agenda) within the conference agenda
- Thinking through the transitions in your program and conference planning
- Planning for moments of audience participation, the reinforcement of your key message points, and how to best honor your leaders and thank key sponsors.
A seasoned MC can provide you with valuable ideas about the conference venue, conference schedule, conference technology, and more. Having hosted events for 30 years, I like to give meeting planners tips about:
- Staging within the conference venue
- Transitions between videos and keynote speakers for virtual attendees
- The flow and pace of the conference as a whole
- How to keep the theme and the company in the spotlight
- Mistakes to avoid
- Handling housekeeping announcements, i.e. information about the conference venue, catering services, ticket sales, event app, and more
- Making sure that audience members enjoy breaks
- And more!
#2. ENGAGE your audience
As the host of your conference, your MC should preview the key objectives of the conference and what audience members can expect to learn, enjoy, and experience. They should continually connect your audience to the purpose of your conference.
A pro emcee will create audience engagement and provide an interactive experience for your guests, employees, partners, customers, and all team members at your conference. The last thing you want is a “stiff” program.
A fine emcee knows how to liven up your conference and make everyone feel included.
The most essential thing a great emcee does is connect with your audience to make your conference feel more personal, more exciting, and more impactful. The key to this is interaction. Your people don’t want to be talked at. They want a back-and-forth experience.
The best emcees know how to make your audience feel like they are part of the program—not just passive observers. Great emcees are creative and often utilize multimedia like video clips, selfies, and fun photos of attendees to keep the audience feeling engaged.
Your host will encourage networking and help attendees make new connections (and re-connect with people too).
#3: ENTERTAINMENT and fun!
Why do people love a fun event host? That’s easy. They want to have fun at your meeting!
This doesn’t mean your master of ceremonies needs to be a clown or even a stand-up comedian. But it does mean she needs to have a wonderful sense of humor. This means your MC must:
- Put smiles on the faces of your audience members.
- Deliver positive humor that lifts the mood of your audience.
- Lead your audience into laughter. And this is important: The emcee needs to have a knack for getting your people laughing together, not at each other.
Make sure to include the “Fun Factor” at your conference.
A humorous emcee will help you lighten the mood and create a more enjoyable atmosphere for your conference. Good, clean humor goes a long way toward making an event a hit.
Positive humor will relax your attendees, make them feel comfortable, and recharged, and the best emcees use it to ensure that everyone is having a good time.
#4: ELEVATE your theme
An experienced emcee will personalize his or her comments about your theme throughout the conference and will look for ways to reiterate your main message. Here is an example of how an outstanding master of ceremonies might do this:
“I am honored to be your conference emcee this year! What you do, creating safety products, matters to parents and families across the country. I know…I have 2 kids.
“And I can’t think of anything more important than protecting them. Kudos to you. We have a wonderful theme this year: ‘Safe and Successful.’
“You are in safe hands with me as your host, and I know you are going to succeed this year because I am looking at a roomful of winners!
“So…Welcome to our 5th annual safety conference. Now, Let’s get this party started!”
One more thing here:
An experienced emcee will offer a unique spin on your event theme to help your attendees remember your big takeaway.
Bonus: 8 Ways To Create A Positive Workplace Culture
#5. EXTENSION of your brand
Hire an emcee who will exude a positive impression of your company. This is critical.
You’d be surprised how many meeting planners make the mistake of hiring a comedian, local celebrity, or in-house “wisecracker” to host their conference. Some of these presenters will put your company in a bad light.
Don’t let that happen.
Instead, your master of ceremonies should:
- Speak about your organization in an upbeat tone and with positive language.
- Model your company culture in all the best ways possible.
- Address your audience in a friendly and inclusive manner.
- Reflect your company’s core values.
A corporate master of ceremonies serves as an extension of your company culture by conveying your company’s values, mission, and goals onstage (and off).
The conference emcee can help promote your company’s brand by incorporating your company’s message into his remarks. The emcee can also create a more professional and polished event experience, helping to solidify your company’s reputation as a leader in the industry.
#6. ENDORSE your sponsors
Remember the old saying, “Dance with the one that brought ya”? If you have sponsors, vendors, or other key customers at your event, it is important for the MC to highlight them from the stage.
There is a fine art to this. Let’s examine some Do’s and Don’ts here.
You do NOT want your emcee to:
- Quickly read all the sponsor names with no feeling.
- Belittle or joke about any of your partners!
- Forget to highlight your key sponsors.
You DO want your master of ceremonies to:
- Thank your sponsors.
- Encourage attendees to applaud them!
- Direct people to engage with sponsors the way you want them to engage (i.e., at the tradeshow booths, in breakout sessions, etc.)
An emcee should draw attention to your sponsors and other important event partners. Make sure to tell your MC who they are and how you want them highlighted at your meeting.
#7: EXPERT introductions
When I attend events where the meeting planner does not have a professional MC leading the program, here’s where it really shows:
- Weak introductions. “He’s a friend of mine. And you know all about him. So, please welcome (blank).”
- Loooooong introductions. Amateur emcees read full bios as speaker introductions. This can put an audience right to sleep.
- Distracting introductions. This happens when the introducer goes off on a tangent with personal stories, or worse yet—talks about himself/herself instead of the special guest speaker!
By hiring an expert emcee, you will hear wonderful introductions.
This happens for three reasons:
- The MC knows how to cull the key parts of a bio and create a powerful and concise introduction.
- The Master of Ceremonies meets personally with the speaker (usually backstage, in the green room, or at a rehearsal) and shows the introduction to the speaker to confirm that it is appropriate.
- The emcee delivers the welcome in a warm-hearted, positive, and inviting manner so the speaker is greeted by a solid round of applause.
#8: ENERGY boosters
An experienced emcee will help build energy and excitement throughout the event, keeping everyone feeling interested and entertained. A good emcee has the ability to use humor to break the ice during the event and keep the audience engaged and re-engaged.
Know why they call them “ice-breakers”? Because a big room can feel cold.
The best emcees know how to warm up an audience and continually re-energize them.
Hire an MC who will:
- Insert fun stretch breaks between speakers so they don’t get tired of sitting for long periods.
- Lead your people in an energy-boosting activity.
- Keep your attendees feeling good throughout your conference.
#9: ELEGANT transitions
You want your meeting to feel cohesive, not “clunky.” This is where a great emcee really shines: segues. Smooth, elegant segues keep the event running on time and ensure that everyone is having a good time.
Meeting planners have called me their “Go-to Emcee.” And I’ll tell you why:
I understand that, as the event emcee, I am not the star of the show—I am the glue. So, I am always looking for ways to connect the attendees back to the organization and to what’s happening on the platform.
There are 5 things I do to create seamless transitions as an MC:
- I build a bridge from what just happened on stage to what’s happening next.
- I look for the point of connection between the last speaker or video and what is coming next: “Sheena spoke about the power of teamwork. Well, you are about to meet one of the key players on our team. Let’s welcome…”
- I tune in to the energy in the room and mirror it back to the audience. If we have just heard an emotionally heavy story, I don’t walk up and tell a joke. I reflect what is happening on stage and in the room and then artfully move the audience into the next segment.
- I reinforce the theme of the conference while in transition. For example: “Matt inspired us with his story of overcoming difficult times. And that is what this gathering is all about. This next video is the perfect follow-up to Matt. It reminds us of how overcoming challenges builds “Momentum.” Let’s watch this together…”
- I keep segues as short as possible. One of the key jobs of a great emcee is to keep the train rolling. Your emcee should keep the program moving so the pace feels upbeat and exciting. No drag time!
Note: Sometimes the right transition necessitates “filling” time. An experienced emcee can help fill in any gaps during the conference and ensure that there is no “dead air”. She can do this via jokes, stories, walking into the audience, giving away prizes, etc.
#10: END on time
A good emcee will help you stay true to the timeline of your conference.
Did the speaker run long? No problem. The emcee can shorten the next transition time and tighten up the Q & A segment.
Is an award winner speaking too long during his/her acceptance speech? No worries. A fine MC will make her presence known to the speaker in a warm way so that they get the message: Wind up your comments, please.
It is always better to have a professional emcee rather than an amateur. The professional MC will have the experience and skills needed to make your conference soar.
Remember, having a super-event emcee can make a conference more fun, enjoyable, and memorable for attendees.
These 10 “E” factors will help you identify and hire an extraordinary conference emcee for your next conference. Keep in mind that your people want to have a good time at your conference.
By hiring a fantastic emcee, they will experience just that!
Keep Reading: 12 Tips For Becoming The Best Motivational Speaker
Adam Christing is an experienced emcee and expert event consultant. He is the CEO of cleancomedians.com. He is also the author of the forthcoming book: You Can Be a Great Emcee: The Ultimate A-Z Guide for the Master of Ceremonies. Adam brings extra energy, involvement, and fun to events and conferences. For more information, visit adamchristing.com. He would love to connect with you about how he can help make your next big meeting a super-success.