Why does your corporate showcase, society wedding or year-end function need an experienced yet cordial Master of Ceremonies? Below, I go into what this professional role entails and conclude that while it’s rewarding, it’s also much trickier than most people think.
It’s the day of an important function for your small business or big corporate. You want it to be glamorous, fun and for clients to have you top of mind when they’re renewing contracts or making referrals of your service to their network in the future.
The catering can be topnotch, the venue just right and the décor charming yet appropriate, but once everyone is seated and the speeches start, you’ll need that one vital person whose job it is to keep everything together.
Enter the Master of Ceremonies or MC.
This person welcomes guests at the start, advises on technicalities such as turning cellphones off and where the loos are, and then introduces each speaker before they head up to the podium, with a well-researched titbit on their background or purpose in attending.
Often, a Master of Ceremonies (MC) is required to give a short motivational speech of their own, drawing from their entrepreneurial or sporting experience to set the scene for the speeches that lie ahead. This is why your MC needs to be a character in his or her own right, perhaps a household name in South Africa in a particular field; and definitely someone who confident, well-spoken and generally respected. That stylish touch in dress code and turn of phrase will lift the entire tone of the day.
On the other hand, you don’t want someone too serious; an empathetic attitude, light touch and well-placed joke often serves to unite the audience to a common purpose – be it problem-solving for the insurance industry during an extreme weather event (like Cape Town’s recent drought) or to show love for the bride and groom (at a special wedding).
This role may seem easier than it is for the well-versed speaker, because it also involves time-keeping if a venue is only available a short while or a specific speaker needs to give their presentation promptly before leaving for the airport.
Being a people’s person myself, I love the way this role requires me to liaise with everyone and keep the ball rolling along steadily, despite whatever challenges the day may throw my way (AV systems, for example, can be tricky as hell!) I make a mental note to be diplomatic at all times, even when advising a speaker that they’ve one minute left on stage or announcing that CA 437 999 is wreaking traffic havoc in the road outside.