Tackling the Master of Ceremonies (MC) Role


When asked by a prospective client what you think is a Master of Ceremonies Role, you respond: “Announces a few things, here or there, over an evening. It’s really easy!” Think you’ll get the job? I’d think again! Because no matter how confidently you can speak in public, event MC-ing requires that you engage an audience by tapping into the highest levels of warmth and emotional intelligence you can possibly muster. The good thing is that such hard work is infinitely rewarding, and you’re sure to leave on a high.

Between speakers at a conference or speeches at a wedding, your job as MC includes keeping the ball rolling. How you do this is up to you, but be clear that you’re the in-betweener around which everything rises… or falls flat. This brings me to the first important aspect of the MC role:

1) Read up, mull over, try out and revise. This applies to the material you plan to use, your awareness of others and their comfort levels, and the nature of the specific event itself – so being experienced in the MC role is a decided advantage. If you’re a newbie at this game, be sure to try out your jokes, insights and approach on numerous friends, colleagues and family members well ahead of the event, so you have the opportunity to tweak whatever offends – or could potentially do so.

It is not strictly necessary to be the head jester of the evening when you take on the role of an MC. Rather:

2) Go with humour that occurs to you on the day, or is highly relevant for all the folk attending. For example, at a wedding for a woman aged 35 and a man aged 50, you could point out that their collective parents have waited at least 85 years for them to tie the knot – close on a century! It pays to be sure that your humour is appropriate and mutually hilarious to everyone within earshot – not just the guys (a rugby joke) or the girls (a Kardashian joke), which will exclude some.

Do you have a tried-and-trusted method of setting the scene, welcoming the VIPs, introducing the speakers, and thanking the deserving towards the end? If not, be sure to make copious notes from the client and to rehearse the potential order of things before the time. Your notes can certainly be thinned down, to a few out-of-sight cards, on the day, or night, itself.

Remember: 3) MC-ing is hard work; it requires vast amounts of thought, consideration and attention to detail. So liaise with the client, find out every detail you think may be useful, ask about the venue (wheelchair access?), bathrooms (men here, women there?), flower people, hair people, cake people, caterers, menu, parking, wifi code… and you’re unlikely to be caught out while on stage. Hint: Be prepared to flatter anyone difficult; the insecure love to be told how marvellous they are.

In conclusion, the role of an MC means that an MC cannot be withdrawn – or someone unaware of or uninterested in the feelings and comfort of others. As part of a Master of Ceremonies role, he or she has to know and be aware of absolutely everything that the audience is aware of. He or she must know: their role; the sequence of events; have read up on or met each of the VIPs or speakers beforehand; have an idea of what each speaker is going to chat about, and be able to tap into – and therefore engage – the audience in attendance when it comes to age, gender, interests and industry-appropriate humour.

MCs are special people. Welcome to the global Master of Ceremonies club!