I hate it when people refer to speaking as a ‘soft skill’ – it’s actually quite a hard skill to master! What made it easier for me to change into a speaker was speaking as a master of ceremonies (MC). Below are my insights into being a memorable MC.
Your role is to ensure that event proceedings and protocols are maintained. Obtain a list of dignitaries, event sponsors and other important guests who should be acknowledged at the start of the event. Announce the standard event etiquette, like switching mobile devices to silent. Confirm with the event organisers if gifts will be handed to the speakers and if so, who will perform this duty.
ALIGN TO THE EVENT THEME
Prepare a list of snippets of information (stories, facts, jokes) to share with the audience in-between speakers. This will ensure that there are a good transition and a light ‘thinking’ break for your audience. As a way of entrenching learning, you can request your audience to ‘pair up and share lessons learnt from a previous speaker’. This will give your audience a chance to review, reflect and engage – under time restrictions that you will announce at the time.
LOGISTICS AND EQUIPMENT
As an MC, your primary role is to maintain the event proceedings. For this, speak to the event organisers to gain an understanding of the timing, agenda, speaker details, walk-on music (if any) and general flow of the event. Obtain notes and biographies that can be used to introduce speakers in advance. Ideally, sit close to the event organisers or the technicians – this allows you to communicate any changes that need to be incorporated during the event without disturbing the flow. Sit in an aisle seat or close to the back of the room. Prepare timing cards or arrange a count-down clock that is in sight of your speakers to help them manage their speaking time. Arrive at the event at least one and a half hours prior to the event to conduct sound, technical and stage checks. Request a list of cellphone numbers of key people (event organisers, speakers, technicians) in case you need to send a quick SMS update or follow up with someone before and during the event.
Finally, prepare a detailed running script, listing the event proceedings that will guide you and your technician in your role as speaker/MC.
Author: Dineshrie Pillay CA(SA) is a business owner and public speaker trainer