End of year events are in full swing with the unofficial start to the “party” season – the Melbourne Cup. It’s a big deal in Australia, with restaurants, pubs and even workplaces pausing for a while to celebrate the race of the nation.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved as a compere and judge of Fashions on the Field at a few of these events over the years. The MC role for me at any event is always enjoyable – one reason is because it is not about “me”.
Often the in-house marketing manager, public relations, or sales manager is asked to be the master of ceremonies at the company’s conference or award night. If that is you, I’m sharing these few tips to help you be prepared as there is nothing worse for your personal brand authority, than “winging it”.
As one of my presentation coaching clients said, “I’ve been stepping more into hosting roles and need to be more prepared after one bad experience which derailed me. I feel scared of doing it in front of a big audience.”
I helped her overcome her nerves to feel more confident about the next event she hosted. Here’s a brief summary of the topics we covered, which I hope will help you to step up if asked to be an MC.
1. Stage management. You are not necessarily responsible for the stage management or production of the event. Generally, an event planner or the organiser will be arranging that and provide you with a run sheet. However, you are the director and there to oversee the proceedings go smoothly and to time. Familiarise yourself with the run sheet, the amount of time at the beginning and in between each introduction. Know the meal and entertainment breaks and what are the main housekeeping rules that need to be addressed. Know who the speakers are and introduce yourself to them beforehand if possible. Make sure you have a handy time piece available to keep track of time and know which side people will enter and exit the stage. You may also be on hand to assist someone on the stairs and help adjust the microphone height if necessary.
2. Humour. Don’t try to be funny or tell jokes if it is not your style. Some of the best MC’s and television comperes are comedians and naturally witty. If the event calls for a comedian – they will hire one. The event doesn’t want someone dour and uninteresting though. Be yourself, but be the lively, upbeat version of you. Smile and relax into it and perhaps some gentle humour will shine through.
3. Forget I and ego. It’s not about moi, moi. It is about the other speakers. When people ask if I get nervous being an MC, I say, “Not really because I know people aren’t focusing on me”. My job is to make the other people look good and highlight the real stars of the show – or event. Often you will be provided a written introduction to the speakers but if not make sure you have researched who they are and have some bio points on hand. Do introduce yourself at the beginning and set the scene for the event.
4. Notes. Be well prepared. Have your runsheet, the notes you have written out, introductions, announcements and all items together. A plastic sleeved folder works well. Some prefer it all on iPhone and others written out on cue cards. Do what works for you and make sure you can see everything clearly. Listen to the speakers and make mention of pertinent points as you segue from them to the next speaker or next part of the evening. Just in case the next speaker is not ready or something goes wrong in the proceedings, have a filler prepared. It could simply be to say what the rest of the evening/day entails or if you are more experienced, an activity that gets people engaged can also work.
5. Engagement is the key. The beginning is when you need to impact the audience immediately with a strong opening and set the tone for the day or evening. This is also when you introduce yourself and it will most likely be the one time when the focus is on you. Make this moment count with well thought out content and preparation. The closing of the event is when you thank the relevant people and again if you can, finish on an uplifting and memorable note.
Being a confident presenter is essential for your personal brand authority. If you would like to know more about building your brand, download my free video series, NOOK, LOOK, HOOK 3 Steps to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.
Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is passionate about helping business executives and entrepreneurial professionals elevate their personal brand, image and professional presence. Sue’s suite of image management services delivered through workshops, consulting, coaching and keynote presentations provides a multi-faceted approach to gain high transformation for her clients.