Somewhere this very moment, an event organizer is busy planning a Christmas party. What would you do if you were approached right now to be the Master of Ceremonies for such an event? Would you hastily say yes and then smack your forehead wondering, “What have I let myself into? Can I do this?” Of course you can. Here are a few tips to ensure that the next Christmas party you MC will be a success.
What To Do After Accepting
You have confirmed that you are available on the date of the party. What is the very first thing to do? I recommend you set up a face-to-face meeting to discuss the event with the organizer. At this meeting, act like a journalist and make sure you get answers to these questions:
What is the reason for the party? Is it to reward customers for regular business throughout the year? Is a couple celebrating Christmas and 50 years of marriage in one event? The reason for the celebration will give you clues on how to handle the event in such a way that you meet the objectives. Remember, if all goes well, the celebrant will be congratulated. However if the event bombs, guess who will take the blame? You the MC.
As MC, to whom will you be responsible during the event? It is important to have one designated person who will inform you if changes occur during the party. This ensures that you work with minimum interference from unauthorized people. Who are the guests and what is their relationship to the host? If it is a corporate event, what industries do the invitees represent? If it is a private party, who has been invited – family, friends, old school mates? This information will help you tailor your remarks during the party.
Where is the venue? Will it be held in the premises of an office or will a hotel be used? Is it an outdoor event? Where will it take place, in the middle of town or in the outskirts? You need answers to these questions so you can visit the location to familiarize yourself with the venue and even know how long it will take for you to get there on the day.
At what time will the party take place? For how long is it expected to last? If you are a professional MC, you need this information to help you calculate your fees. Even if you agreed to host the function for free, you still need to know issues of time so you can schedule your day accordingly.
How is the event expected to run? Is there a draft program for the party? What kind of entertainment will be provided? Will there be speeches? Your duty as the MC is to get all this information from the event organizer. The best solution is to ask the organizer for a running order with timings and information about who does what at a particular time. There is nothing like being over-prepared and a party is no different from a conference or a product launch – you must pay attention to detail.
Make sure you write down all the answers to these questions. After the pre-event meeting, send the organizer an email to summarize the main issues. It will serve as a reminder for you and also show the organizer your level of professionalism.
On The Day Of The Party
The day has arrived. Do you just hang around doing other business and actually wait for a harassed event organizer to call you up demanding “Where are you?!” before you make your way leisurely to the party venue? Far from it. The following tips will help you stand out from 90% of other MCs and compel organizers to invite you for other events.
Even if the dress code says ‘Smart Casual’, take no notice. As an MC, you are not a guest. You are on duty as the Event Manager to make the event a success. No ifs, no buts. Be sharp. From the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. Neat hair, shiny shoes. Fresh breath counts too just so that people don’t run for cover when you approach them for a face-to-face conversation.
Get to the venue at least half an hour early
Introduce yourself to your team and get their names as well. Yes, the hotel staff, the photographer, the DJ, the musicians, the comedian, the caterer, the chef, the waiters, they are all your team members. Remember, as the MC you control the flow of the event. If you announce “Dinner is served” and you see the waiters nodding furiously in disagreement, you’ve messed up. Big time.
Run through the program with your point person
Last minute changes may have occurred since your initial pre-event meeting so this is a way of updating yourself. Feel free to ask about switching the order of events or substituting one person for another if the need arises.
Greet the guests
Position yourself near the entrance and say hello to as many of the guests coming in as possible. If you are a naturally shy person, this is one of the fastest ways to get rid of your timidity. The added benefit is that when you encounter them again, you are no longer strangers because you ‘met’ earlier.
Get the event started
As much as possible start on time, difficult as that may be with guests arriving late. If you must refer to the time, thank the guests for accepting the invitation and promise them they are going to have a great time instead of apologizing for the lateness due to this or that problem. Most of them won’t care much for your excuse and will even blame you for the delay so why get off to a negative start?
Let the party flow
People have come to celebrate so let them do just that. If you find guests shaking their thing on the dance floor ahead of the designated dancing time, don’t stop them in their tracks as if they were guilty of a false start. Although you need to prepare for a party with seriousness you would attach to a corporate function, the event itself will be a fluid affair. This may be due to the combination of loud music, happy feelings and the consumption of considerable amounts of alcohol. As the MC, you will need to judge when to step in and when to allow people to feel free. It is something you can learn with time.
It’s not all about you
You may be tempted to get the spotlight to shine on you by virtue of the fact that you control the event as the Master of Ceremonies. Don’t fall into that trap and make yourself the star by talking too much and cracking one too many jokes. Put the organization or the celebrant in the limelight and make them look good. A good way to do this is to imagine the party host as the president and to see yourself as their spokesperson. Who is more important?
Some parties are organized in such a way that after the closing prayer, the event actually continues with revelers dancing deep into the night. Unfortunately, that is not the cue for you the MC to put on your dancing shoes and show the world your Azonto moves. You are still on duty as the Event Manager. Position yourself at the exit and spend some time thanking the invitees for helping to make the party a success. Wish them goodnight and that’s your job done.
Follow these tips and you will be guaranteed success at the next Christmas party you MC.