Read this to Discover Six Secrets for Identifying
The Perfect Master of Ceremonies for Your Next Meeting
Work with a M.A.S.T.E.R. emcee for your next event. Here’s how you can identify a host who personifies the word “master” in master of ceremonies. In this article you will discover the six key components of fantastic corporate, educational, sales, and non-profit event emcees.
MASTER of Ceremonies Secret #1: MAKE CONNECTION
Your event host is the face of your meeting. Your MC represents you.
A masterful MC should model the heart of your company.
For this reason, you must understand this next point…
A good emcee is not an “add on” to your program. No. Your master of ceremonies should feel like an extension of your organization. MCs who have mastered this role are connectors.
Here are three ways a great emcee will connect with your attendees:
- A terrific master of ceremonies will learn the language of your team.
Do you use certain “buzz words” or acronyms in your organization? A smart emcee incorporates this inside language into his remarks. This way he can speak in front of your audience in a manner that feels congruent with your corporate culture.Your people will connect with a master of ceremonies who gets your group. Hire an emcee who is willing to do a deep dive into the jargon, lingo, and key phrases used by your attendees. Tip: provide him/her with this type of language before your meeting.
- A superb event host will involve members of your audience.
The days of a passive audience listening to a lecture are gone. Work with an MC who is skilled at interacting with audience members like yours.
Examples of this kind of participation: facilitating Q & A times, ad-libbing with your attendees, giving out prizes, conducting a trivia game show about the history of your organization, interviewing speakers and audience members, and more.
The key is involvement. A “connected” master of ceremonies will interact with your people. Avoid emcees who don’t bring this type of engagement to your event.
Remember, if your emcee is stiff, you event will feel stiff too. A great emcee will help your attendees feel involved and included in the program.
- An experienced emcee will put the spotlight on key people in your group.
Wonderful MCs have a keen sense of “relationship radar” when it comes to knowing and highlighting the key leaders, partners, vendors, donors, VIPs, and customers in your audience.Suggestions:
• Have your master of ceremonies invite board members to stand and be recognized.
• Your host can thank your event sponsor and invite her up to the platform for a round of applause.
• If your emcee is entertaining, she can do a funny interactive segment on stage with your new CEO or COO. This can help your people find a more personal connection with your leadership team.
- A terrific master of ceremonies will learn the language of your team.
MASTER Secret #2: ADVANCE THE PURPOSE OF THE PROGRAM
In my own work as a master of ceremonies, I know it’s not about me. I see myself as a “mission realization” emcee. What does that mean? I want to help an organization—and the meeting organizer!—fulfill the mission of the meeting.
When I host an event, I follow these 10 Steps to make the meeting stay on task …
A super event host will advance your agenda by:
#1: LEARNING about your organization and WHY you are having the meeting
#2: DOING RESEARCH about your group long before the event happens
#3: Having PRE-EVENT PHONE CALLS with you to understand your program goals
#4. DISCOVERING the big takeaway(s) you want your attendees to experience
#5. AVOIDING distractions, controversies, inappropriate language, and other event “downers”
#6. KEEPING the meeting ON TIME so attendees remember your big WHY
#7. REINFORCING the THEME of your program
#8. ACCENTUATING the positives about your company
#9. LEADING the audience toward your event objectives
#10. ENDING the program in a thoughtful (and thankful) manner
Keep this in mind: YOU are the meeting planner / event coordinator. The MC’s job is to further your agenda—not his or hers! It’s your meeting. Make sure you hire an emcee who helps you realize the mission of your meeting.
The above applies to any type of program you are producing: your donor dinner, training conference, gala fundraiser, sales meeting, awards show, community concert, or annual convention.
MASTER Secret #3: SET UP THE OTHER SPEAKERS and VIPs
This is one of the central tasks of the master of ceremonies. He/she should put your program and the other presenters in a great light.
First, let’s talk about how amateur emcees often mess this up. Here are some big mistakes weak emcees often make.
Mistakes Bad MCs Make:
- Speaker introductions that go on and on and on. Don’t confuse a bio with an intro!
- Going for laughs during a speaker introduction. A great emcee makes the next speaker look important—not silly—before they come up to the platform.
- Walking off the stage before the next speaker comes up to shake hands. Professional emcees know that an empty stage creates a dead spot in your show.
- Forgetting to give a good “outro.” What is an “outro”? It is what the master of ceremonies says about the speaker after she shares her message. Example: “Thank you Christina Chang with our HR team…that was wonderful. Let’s all give her another round of applause.”
- Forgetting about the next speaker’s sound/staging needs. A polished emcee is like a great chess player. He’s always thinking about the next key move.
Example: If the CEO is about to come up and needs a podium on the stage before he speaks, a solid emcee makes sure the CEO has that lectern on the platform before making the onstage introduction.
Now, let’s look at some powerful ways a fantastic master of ceremonies will help your speakers and VIPs succeed on stage.
Your ideal MC will…
- Highlight 3 or 4 positive credibility-boosting things about the speaker being introduced:
- Who they are
- What they have accomplished
- How they are connected to the company or organization
- Why this will be wonderful and relevant for the audience
- Recognize the contributions your leaders are making. Example: “John, that was an incredible talk. Thank you. Did you know that sales are up 45% since John became our VP of Sales & Marketing? Let’s show him our appreciation.”
- Build enthusiasm in the audience about who is coming up to speak.
- Praise the other presenters and organization leaders. This does two things:
It reminds your group that they are part of a vibrant tribe. It also makes your speakers and leadership team feel more empowered—and acknowledged—on the platform.
- Look for ways to verbally “call back” and honor the presenters at the end of the meeting. Example: “It’s been a great night! Can we take a moment and thank Monique, Taylor, Brian, and Melanie for inspiring us this evening?!” (The MC then leads the audience in applause).
MASTER Secret #4: TRANSITIONS MATTER
A magnificent master of ceremonies is a master of transitions. It’s music to an emcee’s ear, when the meeting producer says, “Hey, nice job with that smooth transition.”
For an excellent emcee, a good segue is a thing of beauty. Transitions are the spaces-in-between. When I emcee an event, I like to speak with the program producer or event coordinator about these crucial transitions, long before the attendees arrive at the venue.
Questions an Emcee should consider about specific transitions:
- What is happening in the meeting room as attendees arrive, before the program begins?
- How are we opening the show?
- Will someone introduce me as the MC or will there be a V.O. (voice over)?
- Am I making announcements at the top or end of the program?
- When can I give the audience a stretch break? Between speakers? Between sessions?
- Are we showing video clips during the meeting?
- What is the best way for me to set up this video?
- How should I transition from that emotional—or low-key, or funny, or intense—segment before I bring up our next speaker?
- How and when will I recharge the audience?
- Do we have the presenters seated near the stage so we can keep the program m-o-v-i-n-g?
- How shall I close the program and dismiss our attendees?
- The wrap-up: What do I tell attendees to do next (or where to go)?
If you are emceeing a meeting, here’s a tip for great transitions:
Listen first. Then reflect back to the audience what they are feeling at a particular moment. If you sense they want to applaud a speaker for an extended time, help them do it.
If you sense that that audience is getting bored or restless, lead them in a standing/stretching exercise.
If you are following a moving story, impact testimonial, or emotional video, give the audience a moment to take it in. “Wow…that was powerful. Let’s take a second to let that sink in. (Pause) That was so uplifting. Thank you, Madeline…”
Big Tip: As the meeting organizer, the BIG secret to great transitions is simple, but often neglected. Go over your working schedule (I call it a “run sheet”) with your MC prior to the meeting.
In fact, make sure all of your presenters have a printed copy of this timeline!
MASTER of Ceremonies Secret #5: ENCOURAGE
The fifth ingredient of a marvelous emcee is his or her ability to encourage your group to laugh, think, applaud, take action, appreciate, and feel glad they attended. What you are looking for is an MC who knows how to uplift your attendees.
Here is another acronym you may find helpful here. Oh no, not another acronym! Yes, you’ll love this one.
The right emcee at your event, the one who knows how to create memories that last long past your event date, is one who uses her head and lots of HEART: Humor, Encouragement, Attitude, Reliability, and Team spirit.
A fine emcee knows how—and when!—to tell a good joke. Select a witty (but warm-hearted) host. Someone who will keep your attendees feeling great…with feel-good humor.
Warning: This does not usually mean that you want to hire a comedy club comedian to emcee your event! That can be a bad idea for a number of reasons. (They don’t work clean, they don’t have experience sharing the stage, they don’t understand your business, etc.)
Some things to remember about the laughter factor:
The emcee’s humor should:
- Be tasteful
- Invite audience participation
- Appeal to everyone in the room
- Not turn political or divisive (unless you are hosting a political event, of course)
- Be personalized for your group
- Focus on self-deprecating not insulting humor
- Never be offensive!
- Be F U N
The best emcee for your meeting is the one who will keep your audience fully engaged in your event. Your meeting host must know how to:
- Make attendees feel included and involved
- Listen to what’s happening on the platform and make adjustments
- Interact with audience members (usually with a handheld microphone)
- Create moments of audience participation during the program
- S-t-r-e-t-c-h when time needs to be filled
- Cut his/her funny commentary down if the event is running over time
- Help audience members up and down from the platform as needed
(Suggestion: Make sure you have a set of steps to the stage.)
This one is tricky. You are looking for an MC who exudes confidence for sure. Yet, you do not want an arrogant master of ceremonies. What is the ideal attitude?
Your host should bring a spirit of gratitude, enthusiasm, and energy to your meeting.
Get this: Your host sets the tone for your meeting. Your meeting won’t be fun if your emcee is boring. But if you are hosting a serious symposium on software, you probably don’t want Max, the funny guy in your sales department hosting the meeting. You need a pro.
Think about the FEELING you want your attendees to have at your event. Your emcee should be connected to that vibe.
Don’t overlook this one.
What good is a super-talented host at your event if she arrives late, won’t take your pre-event call or cancels on you?! Masterful MCs are consistently great. This means they understand that in “Show Business” the word business is the longer, and more important word.
An emcee with real heart cares about the outcome of your special event. Make sure you can reach your MC before, during, and after your meeting (to debrief with him).
Here’s one way you will know that you are working with a masterful emcee. They show up early.
A true pro wants to meet you, see the room, check the sound, greet the other speakers, and set you at ease. Like the classic insurance slogan… you want to know “you’re in good hands.”
If your master of ceremonies can’t get on board with what your organization stands for, hire someone else. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: There’s no “I” in team. Please note: There is also no “I” in “event.” Great programs = great partners.
The master of ceremonies at your meeting is your key production partner.
The emcee is the ringleader, cheerleader, and orchestrator. She should bring out the best in your presenters and highlight what’s great about your program.
Tip: A professional emcee knows not to applaud at an audience but with them. A host with heart will display team spirit by encouraging your group to applaud your speakers and agenda (and will lead by example).
The best compliment I can ever receive as an MC is when an attendee asks me: “How long have you been on staff with XYZ?” The means I am representing them—and the whole team—and not just myself.
MASTER of Ceremonies Secret #6: RAPPORT
This last one is arguably the most important of all.
Here’s another word for it: Likeability. Your audience is silently asking themselves: Am I going to enjoy this meeting? Will I like this host?
An MC who bonds with people quickly is an invaluable asset at your meeting.
As a professional MC, I do three things to make sure I develop rapport quickly with an audience.
First, I care about the dress code for the program. If the audience is wearing shorts and aloha shirts, I’m not going to wear a suit and tie. If the event is red carpet formal, I will wear a tuxedo. Make sure your emcee looks the part. Creating rapport begins with what you wear.
Secondly, I want to learn as many of the attendees names (and faces J) as possible. People love it when you refer to them by name. I might say: “We are so glad Sarah and Julie are here tonight! And look, Miguel is sitting in the front row, because he’s a star…” You get the idea.
Finally, a stellar MC finds ways to affirm the audience. Here’s an example. If I am emceeing an event for educators I might talk about the life-changing impact a teacher had in my life. You’ll know you have a maestro as an MC when you notice that he/she recognizes the importance of your people—and validates the work they are doing.
Before we get to THE END of this article, let me remind you:
A splendid master of ceremonies can help you turn your meeting into a masterpiece.
I hope the insights, tips, and suggestions in this blog have inspired you to partner with a wonderful event host.
Now go and create a magical meeting!
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, major donor weekends, sales conventions, annual meetings, gala celebrations, and award shows. He is the author of the forthcoming book: How to Be A Great MC which will be published by Markin Books, and founder of CleanComedians.com.