Febuary 24, 2018

Who Wants To Show Off?

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A couple of years ago, I got an email from Joe, a young university student who is also an occasional MC. He wanted to know how to conduct himself when "VIPs are in the audience". What a question, I thought to myself

It turned out that Joe bombed at the last event he hosted. He confessed that he had wanted so badly to impress the special guests with his performance but everything went haywire for him. He kept fumbling, mispronouncing names and cracking jokes which weren't funny. In the end, he says he was so embarrassed that he waited two clear hours after the event had ended just to be sure everyone had left before finding his way home.

Joe's experience is one common to speakers. It's not only MCs who are sometimes tempted to turn on the style just to show 'big' people in the audience how wonderful they are.

Recently I came across a speaker who got so carried away by the presence of VIPs on the stage that he ended up delivering a six-minute opening prayer. I suspect the applause he received at the end of his address was more out of relief than appreciation. That's definitely not the way to go.

As the MC, you are not the star of the event. What you want to do is take the attention off yourself and direct it to your audience. Your responsibility is to make the experience of your listeners an enjoyable one. This means making brief comments and introductions whenever you have the microphone so that your event flows smoothly. This means concentrating on what is happening and being said so you can make relevant observations in your remarks.

If you focus on these things, you will be too busy to worry about showing off your skills. And the strange thing is that your audience, including the VIPs, will end up being impressed. Try it and see.