Be a Master of Ceremonies


Speakers can enhance their value to clients by serving as a master of ceremonies, or emcee.

I remember when I spoke at a broadcasting conference of sales executives and TV personalities, CEOs and producers. As a featured keynote speaker, I always arrive early and stay late to build client relationships. This particular conference culminated with an awards banquet the final evening. The night before the banquet, the meeting planner informed me the scheduled emcee had cancelled. Would I fill in? Of course! I was intrigued that this association of on-air professionals asked me to be their emcee! Not only did my planned keynote go well, but my spontaneous contribution to the banquet was a hit. As a result of my increased exposure as emcee, I enjoyed multiple additional bookings.

Follow these six guidelines to be an effective emcee, provide added value for your clients, and create a new source of income.

1.      You’re the frame around the picture, not the star!

Your job as emcee is to present everyone on your program as stars of the event, not yourself.

 2.      There is no substitute for personal research.

My office forwards a 35-page prevent survey to every client. We go to exhaustive lengths to find out six essential facts about each individual on the program, including:

• How to pronounce first and last names

• Their career (with their correct title) or what they do in life that is connected to the audience

• Unusual facts and accomplishments that the audience would find interesting

• Why they’re being introduced

• A brief and slightly humorous anecdote about them

• A sincere, positive comment.

 3.      Get personally acquainted in advance.

Prior to start time, confirm each person you’ll be introducing has arrived and meet with them. Contact a family member, coworker or close friend and probe for an anecdote that reflects their character and personality. Share cute, but not embarrassing, information to add a personal touch to each introduction.

 4.      Take complete ownership of the event.

A professional emcee is aware of every program on the agenda, the time allotted for each, and the facility personnel who are involved.

 5.      Start off with a bang.

Build energy at the start of an event by marching the panel or head table guests into the room with music. Invite your audience to stand for the welcome and make it fun!

 6.      Transition, segue and link everything together.

A creative segue might be, “Thanks, John, for sharing your expertise on the benefits of nuclear-powered harvesters. While we’re on the subject of nuclear energy, I’d like to call upon our next speaker to present an award for our high-energy Employee of the Year.” Being an emcee can be a welcome change of pace. When clients see your range of talent, you’ll top their list of professionals who can pull off an event seamlessly.

Brian Lee
In his three decades of professional speaking, Brian Lee, CSP, has presented in every U.S. state, Canadian province, and in 14 countries. Lee founded Custom Learning Systems in 1984, and the Healthcare Service Excellence Conference in 2000.
Brian Lee
Brian Lee
Brian Lee

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