CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – MAY 24, 2021
WHEN YOU ARE THE EMCEE (Part 1)
When you are the master of ceremonies (also known as an emcee) of an event, your role is crucial to the success of the program, whether it’s for your company, a professional association or a nonprofit organization. A bad emcee can ruin an event while an excellent one creates a seamless and engaging experience in which speakers feel comfortable and the audience feels included from start to finish.
From my experience as both an emcee and a professional speaker, these 12 tactics can help you shine.
- Be clear about your role.
An emcee can play many roles, ranging from reading a few speaker introductions to writing remarks for all speakers. Each occasion has its own unique requirements and challenges, so confirm your role with the meeting organizer and be clear about your responsibilities and the organizer’s expectations.
2. Prepare speakers thoroughly.
If your job is to prepare speakers, find out everything you can about the event well in advance—several months before, if possible, and again several weeks before, if necessary. Tell the speakers the theme, the audience size and background, and the expectations about the content and time limits of their remarks. It’s also important for speakers to know the logistics, including the stage setup, microphone options and dress code. Keep speakers informed of any changes that may occur. If possible, request a copy of the speakers’ remarks or outlines a few days before the event. Reference their remarks in your own comments and review the amount of time each one plans to speak.
3. Opening remarks set the tone.
The emcee is usually the first person who speaks at an event. Your energy, confidence and sincerity should match the spirit of the event. It should set the tone for the occasion. This is not the time for “ums” and “ahs,” ad-libbing jokes or discovering problems with the sound system. Print your remarks or outline in a font size you can easily read, and make sure your words are relevant to the theme and the host company or organization.
4. Don’t “wing” introductions.
An introduction should be short, relevant and prepared in advance rather than made up on the spot. Sometimes speakers send their own introductions; other times you create the introductions using material from the person’s bio. Each one should only be a few sentences long. Write out an introduction for each speaker and read each one in a confident and engaging manner. Don’t try to ad-lib or make an off-the-cuff joke during an introduction—it can prove disastrous. For more on this topic, see my blog post “Please Do Read the Speaker’s Introduction Word for Word” at http://gildabonanno.blogspot.com/.
5. Names matter.
Names are important to people. Just ask John Travolta, who flubbed IdinaMenzel’s name at the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony (he called her “Adele Dazeem”) and was still being lampooned for it at the 2015 Oscars. Well in advance of the event, find out each speaker’s name—including whether they use a middle initial or a hyphenated surname—and learn the correct pronunciation. Write it out phonetically and practice it out loud so you can say it with ease and demonstrate your respect for the person.