A few pointers about being a master of ceremonies
The office of master of ceremonies is an important one and requires good preparation. As the name indicates the role of master of ceremonies is an executive one. You are in charge. The office does not require you to be a clown or an entertainer, your main role is to guide and enlighten guests and participants. You are ground zero as far as everyone related to the proceedings is concerned, as well as keeping guests informed and enlightened as to what is going on and what is about to happen. But above all it is all about keeping everything running smoothly.
As master of ceremonies…
…You are always on time, and make time to meet everyone participating in the preparation and running of the event, the hosts of the party, chefs, waiters, entertainers and anyone working the event. You go over the opening of the event: who will be opening, who will be making speeches, is there entertainment and in what order acts are lined up. Are there any guests of honor or any one that requires a special mention? (It is common in company functions for chairmen of committees or CEOs to say a few words to open the event and introduce the master of ceremonies. For private events, spouses, parents or even the host often wants to welcome guests and introduce you.)
…You always introduce yourself by full name, welcome everyone and go over the basics; where are the bathrooms, where is the smoking area, is there wine with dinner or are guests required to order at the bar, go over the menu etc. The object is to make everyone comfortable by informing them of what is in store and to answer the most common questions.
…….You are responsible for keeping the flow of speeches and entertainment, keep a record of people who want to be a part of the program and you are also responsible for closing the docket if there are more people wanting to appear than there is time for. Make sure that everyone keeps to the schedule and that no one takes up too much time. At the same time you must not steal the attention.
…….make time to bond with the room, talk slowly and clearly with confidence. Makes sure that everything runs according to schedule and be prepared for the unexpected, both negative or positive.
…….Try to shorten the proceedings if the audience is getting restless and starts talking loudly or gets inebriated. It’s good to just let the guests mingle among themselves. If there is musical entertainment at the end of the event it is also good if they can start as soon as the formal schedule is over.
…….You are of course responsible for keeping the atmosphere light and flowing. Have material available in case there is some down time in the schedule and no one else to fill it. It is good to get pointers from the staff or guests to tie acts together; a good joke is seldom a bad idea. Always be careful not to offend anyone.
..….You coordinate with the staff; chefs, waiters, technicians and the people behind the scenes: when will the first course be served, when is it ok to invite people to the buffet, how does the lighting and sound system works, and other technical aspects.
…….You introduce the chef and staff and call them out the kitchen for an applause at the end of the event.
Your job as master of ceremonies ends when you introduces the musical act or when the final performance or speech has been made and you wrap up the event. It is very important that there isn’t too much time between the last performance and the music starting, so as not to kill the mood.
A few points you should avoid…
…Letting acts or speeches drag on for too long.
…Letting drunk people get to the microphone. Some people only find courage in a bottle, please try to avoid having them get to the microphone even if it is the CEO or someone of high ranking or status in the event. (It’s not good letting them embarrass themselves).
…having dead time between scheduled events or speeches, or before the band or DJ start playing.
…Don’t make the mistake of planning on being a hit, by hogging the stage or time allowed for entertainment for yourself.
…Talking too dirty.
…Talking too fast or mumbling.
…Don’t be tardy.
…Don’t be negative or despondent.
It’s nice to sing Happy Birthday for the host or guests that have a birthday. – Make a point of getting the person on their feet.
It’s fun and a cool icebreaker, when introducing yourself and the schedule, to ask guests to stand up and give the person on each side a big hug. This starts the event on a good note and it can be great for conversations. This does not apply to every function though.
Every master of ceremonies is different and has his own style. His role in the event is always the same, it is to manage the party from A-Z and to inform guests on the proceedings. Some have a talent for song or comedy, which can be a great asset but it needs to be in moderation. It all depends on the type of event you are conducting and the occasion. For informal parties by all means go all out, but for formal occasions keep yourself in check.
It is important to give guests peace to enjoy the food and it is not advisable to have anything going on during dining. There are of course exceptions to this rule e.g. if there is a buffet and/or there is some dinner music. It is up to you to decide.
The master of ceremonies has to remember that even though something was a great hit at your last event, it doesn’t necessarily have a place in the next one.
It is always good to be over prepared and have fill in scenes even though you will never need to use any of it. Someday you might and you’ll be glad you took the time.
A good master of ceremonies can read a room and/or individuals, but above all he must read into the atmosphere of the moment and conduct the proceedings accordingly.
Most important to remember is to always enjoy these events yourself, then you make it hard for guests not to.
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