As public speakers, we are not always called on to give a speech. Sometimes, because of our public speaking skills and the importance of public speaking, we’ll be called on to run an event where other people will be speaking. In these cases we’ll be playing the role of the master of ceremonies or an emcee. For many of us this may be a new role to play. The key is to understand how you can use your public speaking skills to be a successful emcee.
Its All About Time
As the emcee it is going to be your job to keep things on track. What this is going to means is that you are going to have to make sure that you know what each of your speakers is going to say, have them practice saying it, and then time them. No, you are not going to be able to control how much time each speaker takes; however, it will be your job to let the speakers know prior to the event how important time is and how much time each of them has. As the emcee you’ll need to build extra time into your schedule and you’ll have to be aware of where you could make cuts if you start to run out of time. Always finish on time!
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
One thing that we can easily overlook when we are playing the role of an emcee is that we too will be giving a speech. It’s not like the speeches that we may be used to giving, but we will be on the stage addressing the audience. What this means is that just like when we give a formal speech, we need to be sure to take the time to rehearse what we want to say. This means visiting the location where the event will be held and doing an on-site rehearsal. During this time you’ll want to use the microphone and check out the lighting in order to find out if there is anything that has to be changed for you.
Don’t Talk About Strangers
The one thing that you want to make sure that never happens is for you to introduce someone whom you’ve never met. What this means for you is that you need to make an effort to meet all of your speakers before the event starts. In the worst case, you can take time on the day of the event to meet anyone that you’ve not yet had a chance to meet. By doing this you’ll be able to sound more sincere when you introduce them on the stage. This will also give you a chance to make sure that you are going to pronounce their names correctly and that you know where they’ll be sitting so you can make eye contact with them as you start to introduce them.
Own The Stage
During the event you are the one who owns the stage. You’ll hand it over to each of your speakers to deliver their speech, but you are the ultimate owner of it. What this means is that you need to do is to take great care to make sure that the stage is never empty. You need to remain on stage until your next speaker arrives and then retake the stage as they are leaving.
This show is your show and so it’s going to be up to you to deal with any unexpected events. What that means is that before the show starts you need to have a plan for what you will do if a fire alarm goes off, a speaker loses their notes, or any one of a number of unplanned events happens. You need to have a plan that lets you know what action you’ll need to take if any of these events happen. If any of your speakers get themselves into a bind with videos that don’t play, notes that are out of order, or other issues you’ll have to be ready to step in and get things taken care of.
Always Follow Up
If you do a good job, this won’t be the last event you you emcee. What that means is that you’ll want to find out how you did. Make this happen by following up with the event organizer to find out what their impressions of the event were. Check with the speakers, audience members, and take a look at any video that was shot. If you can, get a friend to time each part of the show so that you can compare it to what you were expecting. Make sure that as a part of your follow up you take the time to thank everyone who was involved.
What All Of This Means For You
Speaking in public does not always mean that we’ll be giving a speech. There are times that we may be called on to act as an emcee and manage a show in which other people are provided with an opportunity to give speeches. When this happens, we need to understand the differences between giving a speech and acting as an emcee. How this show turns out and if the audience gets the benefits of public speaking is our responsibility.
As the person who is running the show, we need to understand that time is critical. We need to make sure that everyone understands how much time they will have and then make sure that they stick to it. Being an emcee is almost like giving a speech. This means that we need to visit the site of the event and rehearse to make sure that microphones and lights work as they should. Make sure that you take the time to meet the speakers that you’ll be introducing so that you sound like you really know them. The stage is yours to manage and you need to make sure that you never have an empty stage. We don’t control everything so the unexpected can happen and when it does, you’ll need to be prepared for it. After the event is over, you’ll want to follow up with everyone so that you’ll know how you can make your next emcee event even better.
Being asked to emcee and event is a big complement. How the event turns out is going to be in your hands. You’ll have a number of things that you’ll have to take care of that if you were just giving a speech you would not have to worry about. Follow these suggestions and the next event that you emcee should turn out perfectly!
Question For You: If a speaker takes up too much time, what can you do to get things back on track?
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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 www.Toastmasters.org. 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
As a speaker, we control the world when we are on a stage. Unless there is somebody with a big hook waiting for us offstage, while we are speaking time stands still and our audience only has ears for us as we share the importance of public speaking. However, the biggest problem that we all face is that we don’t yet control the world. What this means is that although we may have been asked to come and give a speech, a great deal can change between when we were asked and when we take the stage. That speech that you have worked so hard to prepare may no longer be the speech that you want to give or your audience wants to hear by the time you are taking the stage. What’s a speaker to do?