Saturday, October 13, 2012

Running an event - Tips for top MCs

Being the Master of Ceremonies (MC, which I use to cover both genders) is a critical task at any event. I took on the role at the recent Professional Speaking Association convention, and received some great feedback, so I thought I'd offer some tips on being the person who links everything together on stage. 

Firstly, and most importantly, the job of the MC is to make the other speakers look as good as possible. It's not about stealing the show. You aren't there to tell jokes and stories (unless you have to fill, but more of that in a moment). Preparation, as ever, is very important. As soon as the speakers have been selected, make contact, explain your role, and ask them to supply an introduction. Be sure to ask if there are any matters that are concerning them, such as rehearsals and audio-visual requirements. It isn't your job to resolve these issues, but you should act as a go-between to ensure that everything is covered. 

There will usually be an event organiser who will arrange a timetable for the event. They are a critical contact for you, and you should keep in close communication with them at all times. When the speakers arrive for their rehearsal, you should be there with them to check their introduction, handover, and what to do if the technology fails. You will be expected to literally step in and cover if anything should go wrong. 

It's perfectly acceptable (in fact essential) for the MC to take notes on stage. There may be formal announcements, or a precise form of words that a speaker insists on. You don't have to learn their introduction, but you should practice the technique of reading a phrase at a time and looking at the audience when delivering it. Ideally, you should mention the name of the speaker only at the end. 

During the speech, you need to keep an eye on timing, and alert the speaker with a pre-agreed signal if time is running out. Your job as a professional is to keep the event on time. If that means shortening a break, that's what you do. Slippage through a day is a common fault, and is disrespectful to both the audience and the later speakers. 

Finally, ensure that everyone is thanked before the event closes. Then you can relax and have that refreshing beverage you've been looking forward to all day.


Sara Beth Roper said...

Hi Alan,

Great blog post and advice. Just wanted to say you did a fantastic job at the PSA Convention as MC - a true professional.

Warmest wishes
Sara Beth

Alan Stevens said...

Sarah Beth, thank you. Of course, you were the real reason for the success of the event - nothing would have happened without your brilliant organisational skills.