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“People are silently begging to be led.”

– Jay Abraham, marketing guru

As the master of ceremonies, you are the leader of the pack. The audience is looking for you to clue them in on where the event is going, what they’re doing, what they’re going to experience, when it’s going to wrap up, and so forth. 

From the moment you first greet your attendees until you bid them adieu, it is your job to expertly lead them through every segment of the program. 

See Related: Off the Cuff – How To Be A Great Emcee

What to Do After You Greet the Audience

After you open with your funny emcee joke, dance number, musical piece, or funny story about yourself, you want to tell the audience that they are in for a very special treat by meeting together. 

How do you do this? Read on.

Give Them a Preview of Coming Attractions

Think of this preview as being similar to a movie teaser. Most of us will spend $15 as well as an hour of our time to see a movie because the two-minute trailer captured our interest, made us laugh, and most of all, got us excited enough to say, “I want to experience that.”

In the same way, after you welcome the audience, you want to whet their appetite for what’s coming next. Get them excited about what awaits them! Let them know that you are the conductor, and they are in for a fantastic ride. 

Preview for your audience these three things:

  • What they are about to experience
  • Who will be joining them 
  • How they are going to feel

Let’s look at each one in turn.

#1. What they are about to experience

Remember that the meeting is not just about the exchange of information. It’s also about a shared emotional experience within a community or group. Think of your meeting as a meal: there’s the appetizer, the salad, the entree, dessert, coffee, and wine– the whole experience. You want to be like an enthusiastic server telling the audience about the wonderful things in store for them. 

#2. Who will be joining them

Build excitement about any special guests who will be making an appearance during the program. Perhaps you have a celebrity who will be joining you onstage; or maybe a popular musician, a beloved founder of the organization, or an expert in a related field. 

It’s your enthusiasm that will spark their interest in who will be joining them, so make sure your excitement is contagious! 

#3. How they are going to feel

Let the audience know up front that they are going to have a great time. Tell them how glad you are that they are joining in on this live experience and assure them that they are going to feel fantastic. 

Invite Their Applause 

Don’t make the mistake of walking out and saying “Hi, my name is Mary. Are you ready to have a great time?”

Invite their applause after you’ve given them the preview I described above. It might go something like this:

“Hello, ABC Manufacturers! Tonight, we’re going to celebrate our award winners, we’re going to hear from our celebrity speaker, we’re going to enjoy the musical stylings of The Rembrandts, AND we’re going to give away some incredible prizes! Are you ready to get the party started?” 

Build Enthusiasm for the Program!

Don’t confuse being overly excited with being enthusiastic. What you’re really going for here is transferring your conviction about how great the program is going to be to your attendees. 

A great example of this would be Ed Sullivan’s Sunday night show which aired for three decades in the United States. When Sullivan introduced The Beatles to America, he really stoked the excitement. He mentioned that Elvis had sent them a congratulatory telegram. Let’s look closely at his introduction.

Here it is verbatim:

“Now yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city has never witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves the Beatles. Now tonight, you’re gonna be twice entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Let’s bring them on.” 

Build Suspense

For most of the events you’ll be hosting, it’s appropriate to strike a note of fun and excitement. There are some occasions in which the best way to do this is by building suspense. Here are some examples of announcements that can be made even more entertaining by creating a sense of suspense around them: 

  • Who is going to win the grand raffle prize
  • Who is going to be elected the next president of the organization
  • Who is going to win project manager or employee of the year
  • What is going to be unveiled for the sales team this year

Going back to TV hosts, Rod Serling was the host of the popular TV series The Twilight Zone. What Serling did so masterfully was build suspense about the 30-minute program that was about to begin. Here’s an example of one of his many influential introductions:

“Adam Grant, a nondescript kind of man, [was] found guilty of murder and sentenced to the electric chair. Like every other criminal caught in the wheels of justice, he’s scared, right down to the marrow of his bones. But it isn’t prison that scares him, the long, silent nights of waiting, the slow walk to the little room, or even death itself. It’s something else that holds Adam Grant in the hot, sweaty grip of fear, something worse than any punishment this world has to offer, something found only in– The Twilight Zone.”

What the Twilight Zone introduction preview did was hook the audience and make them feel as though they simply couldn’t miss that night’s episode. His words– and more importantly, how he delivered them– made viewers say to themselves, “Wow, this is going to be so great, I’m so glad I tuned in.”

Bonus: Notecards And Prompters – How To Be A Great Emcee

The Power of the Review

Just as important as the preview is the review.

Rod Serling would also review the program that had just played for the audience, and you should do the same thing as the event MC.

This reminds your audience of two things: 

  1. They’ve had a wonderful time together
  2. The sponsoring organization has done a tremendous job of providing them with a fantastic experience 

A brief review of the program is also a great way to re-stoke the audience’s fire and keep their excitement for the cause going even after the event is over.  

Remind Them of Three Things

I do this by not only reminding them of what they’ve just experienced but also by thanking those who participated. It might go something like this:

“Wow! I’ll say it backward: Wow, hasn’t tonight been great? Let’s have a big hand for Hank Rodriguez, our new Senior VP. Let’s keep that applause going for our award winners tonight! And one more time, I want to also thank Larry Kline, author of the best-selling book Manage Your Time Like a Wizard, for being here with us tonight. Finally, let’s thank the incredible event team for the beautiful decor, excellent food, and the wonderful time we all had together. Thanks again for being here, and good night!” 

This is a way of closing with a capper, where you’d use an example like the one above or create your own. You want to close the program by putting a cherry on top of the sundae that you’ve just served to the attendees. Don’t leave this to chance. You don’t want to read it from a script or a card– it needs to come from your heart.

Think about the capping statement you will make at the end of the program as your way to go out with a bang. 

Keep Reading: Q & A – How To Be A Great Emcee

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.