The Effective Emcee — Five Tips for Success
Once you are known as someone who handles him or herself well in front of a group, you will be asked to lead a meeting and/or introduce the speakers. As the emcee, you will want to not only present those on the program professionally, you will want to orchestrate the occasion in an exemplary fashion. In the following article, I share five tips that will guarantee your success as an emcee.
Be aware of your role. Yes, you will be the host and facilitator for the program. Your job is to warm the audience and prepare them for the speaker(s). Your part is extremely important to the overall flow of the meeting, but you must remember that you are not the “show.” You should not tell a joke or give a mini-presentation. It is your goal to make the speaker(s) look good.
Smooth introductions that are succinct work in everyone’s favor. Many professional speakers will bring you and/or send you a written introduction. Take time to read it over and check with the speaker on the pronunciation of any of the words that are unfamiliar to you — making notes on the pronunciation. If the speaker(s) you will be introducing hasn’t handed you an introduction, conduct a mini-interview and write down what you plan to say. Just “winging it” or going on and on about how long you’ve known old Joe and what a good guy he is, will give him a disadvantage.
The word “succinct” is important. At a recent evening presentation by a well known speaker, I saw the energy in the room take a huge dive when the leader of the group sponsoring the event droned on and on about the group, about the speaker, and other information that was uninteresting to everyone. When this revered speaker got up on the platform, people in the audience were practically dozing.
Smooth transitions are a necessity. A proficient emcee realizes the importance of transitions and handles them with ease. When there are two or more speakers and/or other parts included in the program, the emcee must work to keep the mood on an even keel. For example, if the first speaker ended his or her presentation on an emotional note, the emcee needs to bring the audience back to a neutral frame of mind, otherwise the next speaker will start with a disadvantage. Transitions should not be lengthy. They can consist of a positive comment, a quote (have many ready), a short story that relates, or a chance for everyone to stand up and stretch.
It is the emcee’s job to keep the program moving on time. Even though the speaker(s) have been given a time schedule, not every presenter stays within the limit. It will be your responsibility as the emcee to keep everyone on time. Before you start, tell them that you will give them a signal when they have five, three and one minutes left, and stress that the time schedule is important for the success of the program. If they are going way past their time, you might have to gracefully take to the stage. As emcee, keep your comments as short as possible.
Being asked to be the emcee is an honor.Yours is probably the most important function of the program — keeping every part moving smoothly. Take it seriously, prepare well, and be proud of the part you’ve played, and you will be asked again and again. A good emcee is hard to find, so be one!