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“If you are looking for a helping hand– there’s one at the end of your arm.”

-Yiddish proverb

Nearly all 26 letters of this A-to-Z guide have been focused on the event, the audience, and how to please the meeting planner. 

In this chapter, we will discuss the most important player of all: YOU. While it’s true that you are not the star of the show, the role of master of ceremonies is vital to the success of the event. 

Remember, you are the glue that holds the entire program together. Without you, the event would fall apart. 

In this chapter, I want to share nine things that you can do/be before, during, and after the event to be the best emcee YOU can possibly be. 

As we have talked about in previous chapters, the planning that goes into how you will approach and handle your role as event MC is essential. There are many things to consider and many decisions to be made in the days, weeks, or even months leading up to the big day.

Here are nine of the most important things to keep in mind prior to the event. 

See Related: X Factors – How To Be A Great Emcee

Before the Event

#1. Your clothes

The way you dress not only creates an impression upon the audience, but it also affects the way you feel. This doesn’t mean you have to wear brand-new clothes when you’re emceeing an event.

Wear clothes that are appropriate for the event and that make you feel great about yourself. You should feel comfortable and look professional.

#2. Your warmth

A smile is all it takes to convey your warmth and excitement about the event you have been hired to emcee. Dale Carnegie, who trains thousands of public speakers, once said, “Your smile is a messenger of goodwill.”

You will be surprised how many positive comments you get when you simply smile at the beginning, throughout the middle, and at the end of your MC duties for an event. Shake out your nerves before the event by practicing your smile!

#3. Your joy

I had an acting coach once who was a superstar in her field. I asked her what her number one suggestion was that she gave to all great actors. She said to me, “Oh, that’s simple. I tell them to experience joy even if they’re doing something or presenting something that might be sad or challenging– to have joy that they get to be the one presenting it.” 

The audience will love what you’re doing when you love it.

#4. Your preparedness

Have you noticed that we talk about this concept a lot? That’s because it makes you look good when you know you know what you’re talking about. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I want to reiterate how important it is to be prepared.

Don’t make the mistake of showing up to the venue without having done all your homework. As a representative of the company or organization that hired you, it is your job to cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s before the event. 

#5. Your experience

The best way to become a great MC is to emcee every event you possibly can. Whether these events are paid or for free, nothing takes the place of stage time. 

Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours you may need. You may not be able to put in 10,000 hours right away, but the more hours you do put in as a master of ceremonies, the more power you’ll feel from your experience. Nothing can replace it!

#6. Your mindset

With everything you do, you are conveying to the audience not only how you feel about them, but how you feel about yourself. Your mindset needs to be this: I’ve been invited to host this event and I’m going to do a great job. I have been asked to be here for a reason, and I’m lucky to be able to do it!

Your attitude affects everything you do, so take some time to mentally prepare yourself before you go on. Make sure you are in the right mindset before you step onto the stage. 

#7. Your willingness to serve

This goes beyond just serving in your hosting capacity. It also includes looking for ways that you can be of service to the client, the organization, the meeting planner, and even the people who don’t often get much applause– for example, the AV team, the catering team, and servers, et cetera. Your willingness to go the extra mile to help everyone feel prepared will go a long way. 

#8. Your unique personality

No one else on earth has your unique set of skills, your DNA, or your special qualities– so let them shine! As you get ready to emcee an event, it might be helpful to take a personal inventory of your favorite traits about yourself and figure out how you can use them to enhance your role as master of ceremonies.

Remember, you have a lot more to bring to the table than you think, so look for positive ways you can put your unique spin on things. 

#9. Your background

When Johnny Carson took over one of the longest-running television shows in history, The Tonight Show, Jack Parr said to him, “You’ll use everything you ever learned.” 

The same applies to you. Your educational background, your work background, your faith background, your hobbies, and your passions are all things you can draw on in preparation for your role as the event MC. Your myriad experiences are your greatest resource in getting ready to take the stage. 

During the Event

#10. Your connection with the audience

The first thing I always want to do when I approach the event is to ask myself, “How can I best connect with this crowd?”

It might be the way I dress or a certain phrase that I say, but mostly it’s just my desire to feel a heart-to-heart connection with them. Look for ways that you can connect with your audience during the event, and they will enjoy your work all the more. 

#11. Your sense of humor

You don’t have to be a clown to share the fun. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to be a professional comedian. The emphasis here is on your unique sense of humor– and you’ve got one! As long as it’s appropriate, don’t be afraid to laugh with your audience. 

#12. Your desire to involve attendees

The more you can bring camaraderie to an event and engage your attendees, the better. This has been mentioned throughout this book for a simple reason: It matters. People want to feel included. They want to feel invested.

As the event MC, part of your job is to give people the opportunity to be actively involved in what is happening. This will make the event both more meaningful and more memorable for them. 

#13. Your likability 

What’s the biggest secret to being likable? Liking others. When you like your audience first, they’ll like you back. Try it!

#14. Your love for what you’re doing

I’ll be honest with you– I don’t love every single aspect of being a master of ceremonies. Things like the shuttles to and from airports and dealing with baggage and hotel check-ins can be a drag.

But I do love bringing people joy, and I love helping meeting planners fulfill their missions. What do you love about being an emcee? Love it even more, and the audience will know. 

#15. Your humility

I want you to really understand this: Humility does not mean thinking poorly of yourself. It means that you lead from a sense of gratitude and service. Sometimes it means putting other people and things before yourself.

It also sometimes means continuing to put forth your best effort, even when you are tired and you don’t necessarily feel like it. People can tell when you really care, and they will appreciate you for it. 

#16. Your ability to relax

It’s hard to make an audience feel relaxed when you yourself don’t pause to take a deep breath before you go onstage. Continue to breathe deeply, in and out, in between presentations.

If you are nervous, anxious, or even slightly agitated, the audience will pick up on it. Remember, you set the tone for the event. Your ability to relax will help you, the event host, make sure the program goes smoothly.

#17. Your conviction

Just like they say, a great message isn’t taught– it’s caught. Your conviction will be transferred to your listeners. Your goal is to have them believe what you believe, e.g., “This is a wonderful organization.” Your enthusiasm should be robust and contagious. Remember, if you’re excited, they’ll be excited. 

#18. Your fun side

Don’t confuse this with joke telling. This is about enjoyment. If you’re having a great time, they will, too. When the time is right (when it’s appropriate), let your playful side show. Have some fun with it!

Bonus: Welcome & Wrap-Up – How To Be A Great Emcee

After the Event

#19. Your friendliness with audience members

It really goes back to what I hope you learned in kindergarten– make friends. I go out of my way to mingle with audience members whenever I have time, especially prior to an event kickoff. I want to learn names. I want to memorize faces.

I want attendees rooting for me as I walk up to the platform. The more time you spend getting to know members of the audience, the more engaged in the event they will be.

#20. Your gratitude to the leaders and the event producer

One of the first things I do when I arrive at a venue is seek out the leaders and the event producer. I not only introduce myself, but I thank them sincerely for trusting me with their event. 

You will likely have already spoken to these people on the phone in the days or weeks leading up to the event, but you still want to make a good in-person impression and establish a solid working relationship with them. 

#21. Your forward thinking

It’s tempting to think only about this particular event that you’re hosting. Forward-thinking means being concerned about how this event will impact the organization in the days, weeks, months, and even years after it happens. Your goal is to create lasting memories that reflect the many positive qualities of the organization that hired you.

#22. Your feedback

You never want to force your feedback on the event organizers. What I like to say at the conclusion of the event, in private conversations with the leaders and meeting planner, is something like this: “Melanie thank you so much for having me here. I would love to share my thoughts with you in an email or a phone call with you in the next week. Would that be helpful?”

This shows them that you care enough to follow up, but you’re not being pushy about it. The point here is to offer your feedback but give them the option to decline it. 

#23. Your ongoing communication

Remember that the purpose of emceeing an event from your perspective is not just to have a “gig,” but to develop an ongoing business relationship with the buyer and/or event organizer. 

Just like in any good relationship, it requires more than once-a-year communication. Remember these wonderful people that you’ve just worked with and send them birthday cards, holiday greetings, updates on what you’re doing, and articles that might be of help to them. Look for ways you can continue to bring value by staying in touch.

#24. Your recommendations for next time

What I mean here specifically is that you want to be thinking about how you can position yourself as a helpful advisor to them. Can you recommend keynote speakers they might not know about?

Do you have any good suggestions for venues, videos, or books? Do you have any other recommendations that might make their next meeting an even bigger hit (besides you emceeing again, of course)? 

#25. Your being a part of the team

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this time, the best compliment you can get is, “Hey, how long have you worked with us?” When you get this compliment, it means that you have made people on and off stage feel like you are part of their organization.

#26. Your professionalism

These days, showing up early, doing your homework, and caring make all the difference. Your professionalism will make you stand out. Never compromise when it comes to doing great work, even when it means doing more than you are paid to do

#27. Your value

I saved perhaps the most important thing for last. If you continually think about ways you can bring value to the audience, value to the organization, and value to the meeting planner, you will be…invaluable. 

The key to becoming a great event MC is the person you see right in the mirror. So, invest in yourself. Invest in your appearance. Most of all, invest your heart in the work of hosting. You’ll be so glad you did!

Keep Reading: Zingers! – 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.