“I’m part of the housekeeping team. Therefore, I get great results, make a difference, strive for excellence, make this place shine, and exceed expectations…”
-Sign for International Housekeepers Week
When it comes to being a great master of ceremonies, every single moment matters. Remember that even when you’re handling something that seems as mundane as announcements, your words and how you deliver them really matter.
There are 10 rules for making housekeeping announcements, but before we cover them, I want to highlight a few reasons why this is such a crucial part of being a dynamic host:
- You are the guide for the attendees at the event you have been hired to emcee. It is your job to make sure they know what’s happening, when it’s happening, and where.
- The guests will be looking to you to shepherd them through the process of where they need to be and when, and why certain things deserve their attention. You hold all the information they need to know, so it’s important that you communicate it effectively.
- You are representing the client or event organizer, so you want to make sure you are walking the audience into the experience they want them to have.
Now, let’s dive into the 10 rules for making housekeeping announcements:
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#1. Do NOT let a company CEO, President of an organization, or other VIP make these announcements.
You want to keep the leaders of an organization in an elevated role. For example, you don’t want the Vice President of Cisco Systems talking about where the restrooms are or where to meet in the foyer to collect information.
Your job is to keep the spotlight on the VIPS so that they retain their authority. This doesn’t mean that making announcements is unimportant– it just means that it’s your job, not theirs.
#2. Treat all housekeeping announcements with importance.
One of the biggest mistakes a corporate emcee can make is to treat housekeeping announcements like their throwaway lines. I experienced this myself as a newbie and I want to caution you against it.
“Hey, as you guys are walking out of the room don’t forget to download the app and remember the restrooms are down the hall to your right. We’ll see you back here at 2 pm, hey is this thing still on?”
You do NOT want to handle announcements this way. You want to treat them like they matter because they do. Therefore, it is important to purposefully deliver your housekeeping announcements and avoid treating them as an afterthought.
#3. Know what announcements you need to make.
Avoid the mistake of improvising the housekeeping announcements as some kind of tack-on at the end of a session.
You’ll also want to avoid saying things like “All right everyone, we’ll see you back at the top of the hour, have a great break!”
A great event MC always comes prepared. Have your announcements pre-written on a 3×5 card or on your prompter so you know exactly what you need to cover.
I try not to hit my audience with too many announcements at once because I want them to remember at least three or four of the key points. Here are some examples of typical housekeeping announcements:
- What time the session will resume
- The importance of downloading the event app
- Driving the attendees to exhibitors’ booths
#4. Have some fun with them without making fun of them.
You can present announcements in a way that is captivating and entertaining without making them seem trivial.
Peter Brown is a professional emcee who has some fun examples of how to do this. He will ask for some volunteers to help him with some of the crucial jobs at the conference. For example, he might say something like, “I need someone to complain if the room is too hot and someone to complain if it is too cold.”
He will then invite people to jokingly raise their hands or elbow those sitting near them, and he calls them “captains” who are in charge of room temperature.
He’ll swear people in and ask them to be in charge of keeping peoples’ cell phones on mute and invite attendees to pledge not to ask four-part questions during a Q&A session.
What’s great about what Peter is doing here is that he’s enlisting attendees and reinforcing key announcements in a humorous, lighthearted way.
Another way you can have fun with announcements is to pre-write some jokes into them.
For example, a typical announcement an MC will make is a reminder to silence cell phones or put them on vibrate. Sometimes I’ll incorporate a joke like “Hey, but if you have Verizon it may not even be an issue.” Just be careful about poking fun at a company name in a way that might offend those in attendance.
To keep things interesting, I’ll also sometimes sneak in a fake announcement and let the audience know by saying “You’re about to hear five announcements– one of them is not real.” This will keep them engaged and invite them to listen more carefully.
#5. Put announcements at the beginning and/or end of a session.
You never want to distract your audience from a keynote speaker’s message or an important video.
It is generally a good practice to close a session with housekeeping announcements because that is when people are most likely to take action right away. For example, they will submit their questions in the information box, they will place their donations into the appropriate receptacle, they will listen carefully about where to find a restroom because they’ve been holding it for five minutes, et cetera.
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#6. Ask attendees to listen to the announcements before you dismiss them.
Be very clear about what you want them to take away before you dismiss them. There are clever ways to do this that will keep your attendees’ attention as they are getting ready to leave the session.
Sometimes I will say something to the effect of “We’re about to enjoy a 15-minute break, but there are 3 things I need you to know first: first, lunch will be served at precisely 12:30. Second, audio recordings of the sessions will be made available. And third, you can sign up for next year’s conference at the information desk.”
#7. Give clear directions, but don’t get lost in detail.
For example, tell them how to download the event app but do not demonstrate the whole process onstage. A simple PowerPoint slide that directs them to a link or a website will often do the trick.
Sometimes it’s as easy as saying “Let’s have Amelia stand– Amelia, wave your hand so everyone can see you. If you have questions about downloading the app, see Amelia or one of her other great reps at the information desk during the break.”
Try to avoid getting bogged down by too many details, or you risk losing the interest of your audience. Chances are, at the end of the session they will be more than ready to get up and take a break, so you’ll want to get to the point quickly and clearly.
#8. Keep the energy up.
I like to make announcements in a way that reinforces the content we’ve already been hearing. Here’s an example of how that might sound:
“We want to thank Peter Rogers again for his tremendous annual report– and speaking of reports, everybody needs to report to the information desk at the end of this session to pick up their gift bag.”
The idea is to look for ways to bridge the content that has been shared during the session and segue into the announcements that must be made. Being able to do this in a way that entertains your audience as well as informs them will help keep that energy up!
#9. Add some humor to the mix.
Sometimes I like to come up with a fun acronym, pun, joke, or something that reinforces the importance of the announcement.
Other ways to do this are with funny memes that can be used as a PowerPoint slide or walking into the audience and having attendees read the most important announcements into the microphone for their colleagues to hear.
#10. Repeat key announcements.
If an announcement is important, be prepared to make it two or three times. For example, your sponsoring organization may find it essential that attendees fill out an event evaluation form.
I would recommend saying it at the beginning of the session and repeating it again for emphasis at the conclusion: “Remember, friends, you’ll be receiving an important evaluation form by way of email– please take 5 to 10 minutes to complete this because it will help us delight you further when we see you all back next year, thank you!”
Remember, as the event MC for a company or organization, you are first and foremost a host. It may be helpful to think of it like this: if you were throwing a party at your own home, you would do your utmost to make sure people felt welcome, entertained, and comfortable.
For example, you would show them where to find a restroom, where to get a cup of coffee, and so forth. In the same way, as the host of the event, you want to clearly guide attendees through the details that will help enhance their event experience.
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This is an excerpt from Adam Christing‘s forthcoming book, “How To Be A Great Emcee: The A to Z Guide to Hosting Events” by America’s #1 Master of Ceremonies. Follow along as new chapters get posted to this blog category each week.