Thousands of times a day, around the world, events are being conducted by people who do their best to keep things moving by acting as the master of ceremonies. Here are my 5 success secrets, having served as a professional emcee who has hosted over 5,000 events in the last 30 years.
The scene is a typical one. An event is being planned and somewhere along the way, someone says, "Who are we going to get to be our master of ceremonies?"
Often it is the company president, charity executive, school principal, sister of the bride, you name it. Some were born to do it; others are scared to death of the thought of getting front of the audience and dropping the ball. Some drop the ball several times and don't even know it!
Whether it's the annual PTA program or The Academy Awards, there certain immutable rules (secrets) that apply to anyone charged with mastering the ceremonies.
Secret No. 1: Don't let them see you sweat.
Keep in mind that, though you are looking at many faces, each one of them sees only one: you. How nervous would you be if there was only one person in the audience? Probably, not much. That's one good way to curb your fears. Reminding yourself not to take any event too seriously is another way. I often get asked if I ever get butterflies before taking to the stage. My answer is usually, "I used to get butterflies and still do. The difference is, now they fly in formation."
Secret No. 2: Get off to a good start.
The worst way to get the crowd's attention when you want to begin the program is to shout at them. The best way is to simply begin talking into the microphone as if you had their complete attention. Eventually, they will tell each other to be quiet and listen. After all, if they don't, they will be missing out on the reason they came. Once everyone has quieted down, you can quickly repeat what you just said. Another method I like to use is to introduce the person who will give the invocation. The words, "Please bow your heads" might as well be, "Please shut up."
Secret No. 3: Remember that your job is to make everyone you are introducing, "look good" and "feel special."
The more effort you put into those two things, the more people will come up to you after the program and thank you for a great job. It’s that simple
Secret No. 4: Keep things moving.
Being MC is much like playing tennis, you have to be ready for anything an opponent may send your way. Being on your toes will eliminate embarrassing lulls in the program. If the person you introduced is a bit nervous, simply go up and pat them on the back, and say, "It's OK." You'd be surprised how powerful a gesture of kindness can be and how much the audience will appreciate it, as well.
Secret No. 5: Visualize how the program will end.
Many times, it's seems like a program will go on forever because no one knows how to end it....or if it should end at all! Remember that you are in charge. Once you know what the last segment will be, have a clear picture in your head of what you will say to wrap things up.
Something as simple as, "Ladies and gentlemen that concludes our program. How about another big hand for...." While they are applauding, say "Thank you for being with us and have a safe ride home!"
One more note. Smile. The more you smile, the more the audience will feel like everything is all right. And, with you at the microphone...it will be!
Go get 'em!