What is the greatest joy you get in your work as an event host? Master of ceremonies and moderator Jerry Adjorlolo responded:
“When the event flows smoothly from beginning till the end and the guests leave with a feeling that their time was well spent.”
Jerry captures the mission of the master of ceremonies in that statement: a flowing program and happy guests. The question you may be asking right now is how exactly do you do that? How do you make an event flow smoothly from beginning till the end? How do you guarantee that the guests will leave the venue feeling that their time was indeed well spent? First you have to understand the meaning of flow as it relates to an event.
What Is Flow?
For an event to flow smoothly means there must be lack of interruption or one continuous movement without any restrictions whatsoever. Why is this important?
Imagine you were taking a two hour road trip as a passenger in a bus. How would you feel if halfway into the trip, the driver apologized for taking a wrong turn? How would you feel if your journey was punctuated by sudden stops because the driver drove straight into potholes instead of avoiding them? Would you feel refreshed at the end of the trip? No. Would you want to take another ride with the bus company or the driver? No. Would you recommend their services to a friend? No.
An event is similar to a journey. Those taking part must enjoy it. You the MC are responsible for driving it to a successful end by making it flow smoothly. To do this requires that you prepare sufficiently to take care of the moments before, during and after the event.
Before The Event
As soon as you are engaged to host a program, request a meeting with the organizers. At this meeting, ask for a copy of the running order. This is the map of your event. It will tell you when the event starts, who will speak and the activities that will be covered. At this stage the program is likely to be a draft one and it may change significantly by the day of the event. The advantage of you getting familiar with the running order very early on is that as changes are made, you will be aware of them.
Your dedicated contact person
At the pre-event stage, ask for one contact person dedicated to work with you. The presence of such a person will help to prevent any hitches in the program flow. If there are any changes to the running order, that person will be the only one authorized to update you. I have been to events where the MC did not work with a contact person. He made several announcements that had to subsequently be corrected and that contributed to the jerky flow of the event.
The dedicated contact person will also prevent anyone even remotely connected to the event to make unauthorized changes to the program flow. I have lost count of the number of times a relative of the bride at a wedding reception has tried to modify the event’s running order. Of course, I have resisted politely and firmly every single time/ And so should you.
During The Event
A good way to maintain the flow of the program is to be a step or two ahead of the running order at all times. Let us assume that the first three items of are as follows:
Arrival of Guests and Registration
While guests are making their way into the venue, you should find out who is responsible for saying the opening prayer. Once you find them, get their name and title right as well as the pronunciation. If your dedicated contact tells you that the person is unavailable, ask for a replacement and get that person’s name and credentials right so you can introduce them properly. Repeat the same procedure for the third item in the program above which is the welcome address. Who is doing it? Get their names. If they are unavailable, get a replacement.
How does anticipation contribute to the flow of an event? Guests expect to be entertained and a free flowing event contributes greatly to that expectation. If you are not updated and you announce the name of a speaker who is unavailable, you mar the flow of the event. You will have to apologize and make an announcement for a replacement. Worse still is a situation where the MC announces “Can we have the person responsible for the opening prayer come to the podium now please?” This shows the MC and organizers have not done their homework. It puts them both in a negative light and disrupts the event. Don’t be guilty of this.
Keep speakers brief
Audiences do not like events to drag on and on. As the MC you are responsible for keeping the program on time. If you don’t take your responsibilities seriously, audience members may leave the event earlier than expected and no organizer will be happy with you for emptying the hall before the scheduled end. Establish signals with speakers to indicate that they have 5 minutes left or have run out of time. You can write time warnings on small cards ahead of the event with messages such as “2 minutes left” or “Wrap up now” and slip them to the speaker. Manage the time effectively and your event will flow, adding to the enjoyment of your audience.
At The End
When the program is over, position yourself at the exit and spend a couple of minutes thanking the guests for attending the event. They will leave with a positive impression and that will contribute to their happy memories of the time they spent.
In summary these are the points to remember if you want to make an event flow smoothly so the guests leave knowing that their time was well spent:
1. Familiarize yourself early with the program flow
2. Get a dedicated contact person
3. Anticipate the items on the running order as it unfolds
4. Prevent speakers from talking too long
5. Thank the guests at the end
Put these tips into practice for your next event to improve the flow and make your guests happy. I wish you success!
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