So you’ve got tapped to be the corporate MC for an event (or perhaps a wedding or conference). What do you need to know in order to be successful?
5 Things a Corporate MC Needs to Know
Every successful MC will know these five things:
#1. Know Your Role
The role of a corporate MC (aka emcee aka Master of Ceremonies) is to make sure the event goes smoothly and to guide the attendees to wherever they need to be. This could be helping the event-goers find the physical place they should be, or, more often, it’s about getting them mentally prepared for what they’re going to experience next.
While being engaging can certainly help as an MC, you aren’t the main show and shouldn’t distract the audience from the real reason they are at the event. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t be entertaining (see the Job of an MC).
#2. Know the Schedule
One of the most important jobs of a corporate MC is to keep everything on schedule. While you won’t be able to control the individual speakers (hopefully the event coordinator will have a system to make sure they don’t go on too long), you will control all of the transitions and breaks.
You’ll want to know exactly when things are supposed to start and stop, and you’ll want to know which periods are the “hard stops” (e.g. when do attendees have to be out because lunch is being served?).
Then, as you are hosting, you’ll have to adjust your transitions and talking points to fill the appropriate amount of time. Sometimes this means keeping things brief because the event is running behind schedule; other times it might mean stretching things out because you need to fill time.
#3. Know the Speakers
The MC is typically the person who will introduce each of the speakers or guests at the event, so it makes sense that you should know who they are. First, it’s important to know all of the names and how to pronounce them–you don’t want to force a speaker to start her speech with correcting how her name is pronounced (or worse, her going the entire conference with people saying her name incorrectly because you messed it up).
You’ll also want to know who they are so you can spot-check if they’re in the room before you announce them. If you notice your next speaker just left to go to the bathroom, you’ll be able to kill some time before he returns and avoid an awkward lull while attendees wait for him to run from the bathroom.
#4. Know the Content
As a corporate MC, you’ll be transitioning from one topic to another. Knowing a little bit about the content of each talk (either by getting a hold of it before-hand or paying close attention while the content is being delivered) will help you be able to comment on the subject matter.
This will create a more seamless experience for the attendees. If, as an emcee, all you do is thank the previous speaker and introduce the next one, the transition feels disconnected. However, if you comment on something from the previous speaker and tie it into the day’s theme or the next speakers topic, you’ll help the audience understand the flow of the day.
#5. Know the Audience
Finally you want to know the audience. While a corporate MC isn’t required to be funny, many of the best ones are. They can kill time with an interesting story, or revitalize the crowd with a fun energizer. The only way you can effectively engage the audience in this way is to actually know the audience–who are the people in the room? What is the age group? What industry do they come from? What is their role / level?
All of these things will affect what type of humor will work and what type of humor won’t.
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