How To Be A Master Of Ceremonies

Being a master of ceremonies is a different type of public speaking
Being a master of ceremonies is a different type of public speaking
Image Credit: Enrique A Sanabria

Not every speech that we will give will be the same. There will be times when you are called on to speak in public where the people running the show won’t actually want you to give a speech. Instead what they are going to want to you do is to act as the master of ceremonies (aka emcee) at their event. What this means is that all of sudden your on stage performance has just become a critical part of the success of their event. If you do a poor job, then you can end up ruining the event. If you do a good job, then you can create an experience that shows off the importance of public speaking and is both engaging and appears to be seamless. The job of the emcee is to make all of the speakers feel comfortable and to allow the audience to feel included in the program.

What Are You Being Asked To Do?

When you accept the job of being an emcee for an event, your first job is going to be to find out what the organizers really want you to do for them. The reason that this is so important is because an emcee can play a number of different roles. You might be asked to simply read introductions that have been provided to you for the event’s speakers. Alternatively, you may be requested to be the person who writes the introductions for the speakers. You need to understand that each event that you’ll be emceeing at will come with its own set of challenges and unique requirements. Before the event starts, you need to take the time to confirm what the organizers want you to do, make sure that you know what your responsibilities are, and make sure that you are going to be able to meet the event’s organizer’s expectations for you.

Make Sure Your Speakers Are Prepared

Since you are going to be the emcee, this means that you are now in charge of making sure that each speaker for the event is a success. In order to make this happen, you are going to have to take on the role of preparing the speakers. To do this correctly, you are going to have to find out everything that you can about the event long before it happens. You’ll have to pass the important information on to your speakers: what will the theme of the meeting be, how large will the audience be, what is the background of the audience, and how much time will each speaker be given. In addition to this, you will be responsible for making sure that the speakers know about the logistics of the speech including such things as the dress code, the stage setup, and any microphone options that may be available.

How You Open Will Set The Tone For The Event

As the emcee you are going to be the person who sets the tone for the event. You will be the first person to address the audience and so how you go about doing this is going to determine how the rest of the event is going to turn out. You need to bring energy, sincerity, and confidence to the words that you share with your audience. Your goal is going to be to attempt to match the spirit of the event. It is your job to set a tone for the occasion that you’ve been asked to emcee at. You don’t want to be discovering problems with the sound system now and you don’t want to be stumbling over your words. Take the time to print out what you want to say and make sure that you have it in large letters before you as you take the stage.

Do Not Skip Introductions

It can be all too easy for an emcee to assume that they will be able to create an introduction for a speaker on the spot when called on to do so. However, don’t do that. You need to keep in mind that the perfect introduction for a speaker is relevant, short, and is something that you created before the event started. There will be times that your speakers provide you with their own introductions. In other cases you’ll need to create one using the information that is in the speaker’s bio. An introduction should only be a few lines long. You’ll want to print out the intros for each of your speakers and then when the proper time comes, you’ll want to read them to your audience in a way that will engage your audience and make them want to hear what this speaker is going to be saying.

Remember That People’s Names Really Do Matter

It sure seems like a little thing, but you’d be amazed at just how big of a deal names are both to the person who will be your speaker and to the audience who came to hear them speak. What you are going to need to do is to make sure that you understand how to pronounce someone’s name well before the event. You are going to have to master the details including such things as if they use a middle initial or if they have a hyphenated surname. In order to make sure that you pronounce all of the names correctly during the big event, you are going to want to write them out phonetically. Once you have done this, you’ll need to take the time to practice them out loud. Your goal needs to be to able to show respect for the speaker by saying their name with ease.

Titles Matter Also

If you thought that names were important, just wait until you get to titles. During the event, it is going to be very important that you correctly use the appropriate titles for elected officials and dignitaries. What is going to make this even more challenging is that for some of these people, there are protocols that determine the order in which they are to be introduced. If you are not an expert in things like this, it is probably going to be worth your while to go out and find someone who is. Your goal has to be to find someone who is an expert when it comes to the correct way to use salutations and titles.

What All Of This Means For You

Not all of the speaking events that we’ll be asked to speak at will require us to create a speech. Instead, there will be times when we are asked to emcee an event in order to show the benefits of public speaking. Our ability to speak in public will be important, but how we actually go about doing it will change. We need to learn what a good emcee does so that we can make the event that we are hosting be the best that it can be.

Once you’ve accepted the role of emcee, you need to sit down with the people who are organizing the event. What you are going to want to do is to find out exactly what they will be needing you to do for them. Next you are going to have to make sure that the speakers for the event are completely prepared. This means that you need to provide them with all of the information that they need. Your opening remarks will set the tone for the event. Make sure that you come across as being both firm and upbeat. You don’t want to make the mistake of trying to wing a speaker’s introduction. Instead, collect the needed information and create a well thought out introduction for them. Keep in mind that names matter and get your pronunciations down correctly. Additionally titles matter also and so you’ll need to understand how these need to be handled.

Being asked to emcee an event is a great honor. How the event turns out is now going to be in your hands. You’ll need to take the time to prepare correctly for the event and make sure that each of the speakers will do their best job. Take the time to fully understand who your audience is going to be and you’ll be able to deliver an event that meets everyone’s needs!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: If you are emceeing an event, how long do you think that your opening remarks should be?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you want to give a speech then you are going to have to write a speech before you give it. If you are going to write a speech, then at some point in time you are going to have to sit down and start to write it. However, this is the point in time that some of us run into a brick wall. We just don’t seem to be able to get started writing. The fancy term for what’s going on here is called “writer’s block”. There seems to be something intimidating about staring at a blank sheet of paper. What’s a public speaker to do?