What are some of the qualities you need to become a very good Master of Ceremonies?
You need to have high energy levels and a great sense of humor. You also need to think on your feet and anticipate potential problems in order to maintain the flow of the event. It also helps if you like people because you need to get along very quickly with the people who you will be working with to put together a successful show.
Is there dress code you should follow?
Dress code is straightforward: for every event, make sure you dress at par with or more formally than your audience. Remember the C in MC stands for ceremony which implies that the event is a special one. You want to look the part.
Can you create a brand for yourself as an MC?
Absolutely. Being a brand means you differentiate yourself from the competition, making you a personality MC instead of a commodity MC. A friend of mine called Ken Carbonoo specializes in playing the keyboard and singing customized songs as well as emceeing – he’s the only one who MC’s like this. Ken is a brand and as a result, he’s got zero competition for the type of work he does. Wouldn’t you love to be in Ken’s position? Then develop your brand.
What is the difference between a moderator and a master of ceremonies?
A moderator manages a discussion or a debate involving two or more speakers often with different perspectives on a particular subject. The moderator introduces the speakers, sets the guidelines for the interaction, asks questions of the participants and if the format permits, invites questions from the audience. It is important for a moderator to have a probing mind as well as good grasp of the issue being discussed.
The main responsibility of a master of ceremonies is to ensure that the event has energy and flows smoothly from beginning to end. The MC works with the event organizer to manage the contributions of various people who are key to an event (venue owner, security, entertainment providers). It is not enough as an MC to know how to introduce speakers well; you must have solid managerial skills and be able to plan for unexpected changes to the program.
How is emceeing for parties and weddings different from hosting a talk show?
Parties and weddings are relatively more formal events. There is a running order to follow and speakers to introduce. As a party or wedding MC, you will be on your feet coordinating with other people (caterer, DJ, band) to manage the flow of the event A talk show is really just a conversation between friends. Presenting a talk show requires advanced questioning skills and you normally sit down to conduct it.
What do you do when the electricity goes out?
If there is a generator, be calm as you wait for it to kick in. If there is no generator, get closer to your audience and speak louder.
You are not responsible for a power failure but your reaction to it is within your control. I recall a garden reception where no provision had been made for backup electricity. We tackled the lack of illumination by convincing guests to shine their car headlights all around the venue. Problem solved.
Are you responsible for the kind of music that is played at a function?
The MC is part public speaker, part event manager and as such is responsible for a host of things including the music. On more than one occasion, I have had to suggest that a DJ adapt his music selection to suit the occasion (for example, no songs of marital infidelity at a wedding). The trick is to get on friendly terms with the DJ before the event begins. When you have to step in to change the music, do it in a non-confrontational manner and offer 2 or 3 alternatives. You objective is to help create a great ambience at the event, not disrespect the DJ by trying to tell him how to do his job.
What are some of the things that you should not do?
Don’t arrive late to the event. It only puts pressure on you and the event organizer. And you may never be hired again because of your unprofessional conduct. Be ahead of time by at least half an hour.
Don’t make fun of the audience or the speakers. It’s disrespectful and it can ruin the event. I know of one wedding MC who made a bad joke about a particular ethnic group and caused the bride’s father to storm out of the reception. Remember a joke is truly funny only if everybody finds it so. Don’t risk alienating anyone.
Don’t spend too long in making a transition from one part of the show to the next. You are not the star of the event; your job is to make the event flow. Your motto should be “Less talk, more action!”
Can you create a brand for yourself as an MC?
Absolutely. Being a brand means you differentiate yourself from the competition, making you a personality MC instead of a commodity MC. A friend of mine called Ken Carbonu specializes in playing the keyboard and singing customized songs as well as emceeing – he’s the only one who MC’s like this. Ken is a brand and as a result, he’s got zero competition for the type of work he does. Wouldn’t you love to be in Ken’s position? Then develop your brand.