master of ceremonies

master of ceremonies

So, you’ve done keynote speeches and breakout sessions. But are you qualified to be a master of ceremonies? The master of ceremonies is basically the person that keeps the event moving and sets the tone. They act as the official host. Quite often this position goes to a comedian.

According to Wikipedia, the term originated from the Catholic Church, where the MC is an official of the papal court. The MC organizes and rehearses the rituals of the mass and makes sure everything runs smoothly. They are also expected to double as a security guard. Somehow I can’t quite picture Jim Carey in that position.

The Master of ceremonies of a conference or other type of live event is also the person that makes sure everything runs smoothly. They have to please the audience, the speakers, and the meeting planners and make them all shine. Like a comedian, the MC is responsible for warming up the audience and setting the tone for the event. Is it serious or lighthearted?

If you think you have what it takes to be an MC, here are some tips to keep everyone happy:

  • Have the facts memorized and improvise the rest. One reason comedians tend to work as MCs is because you have to think on your feet. If you screw something up, you have to be able to fix it on the spot and joke about it. Relax and have fun and the audience will have fun with you.
  • Make the speakers shine. Your job is to prep the audience and get them excited about the next speaker who will be on stage, whether it’s the CEO of the corporation putting on the event or a motivational keynote speaker. Showcase them in the best light possible and make each one feel special. They will thank you for it.
  • Be in the moment and be a good listener. The biggest laughs always come from something spontaneous. Interact with your audience and work off of what they give you. Be observant of your environment and use it. Take a funny comment and run with it.

Even though the MC isn’t the star of the show, they have a very important role to perform and their personality does set the tone of the event. Not all speakers qualify for the position, but if you do, you have greatly expanded the number of jobs available to you as a speaker.