Like most of you, I wasn't born a great MC, I had to learn my craft skills (and make all of the usual mistakes) before I mastered it. Let me share some experiences ....
So many times I've sat through Master of Ceremonies speeches that have been simply boring, boring, boring; so bad they killed off any enthusiasm the audience had for the speaker or guest who followed them.
My heart has sunk (many times) as I have watched an MC bore everyone before I speak, and then I've had to walk out on stage and work twice as hard to pick up the energy - hey you are meant to help speakers not make it harder! On one occasion the audience was so bored they started leaving before my speech...
When you're an MC timing is everything
And then there are MCs who let performers or speakers drag on way past their time. It's dreadful, isn't it? One of my worst memories was when I was giving a speech and the MC promised me she'd tell me when my 15 minutes was up. I kept a close eye on her. I kept looking thinking surely 15 minutes was up, but no signal from her so I presumed I was wrong. Then I finally stopped. I had spoken for 29 minutes. I was so upset. I asked the MC what happened and she said, "Oh I didn't like to interrupt you, you were doing so well." It is the MC's job to interrupt and manage the time. A timid MC can cause havoc. Now I don't trust MCs and do my own timing!
Nerves got the better of my wedding MC
I groan when I think of my own wedding. Our Master of Ceremonies stood up, said one sentence and sat down again! He was normally a really good speaker but what we hadn't bargained on was stage fright.
Be relevant as an MC, and be interesting!
Then there was the time I was the keynote speaker at a very formal corporate conference. The Master of Ceremonies had taken a copy of my brochure, and rather than concentrating on my business experience or my qualifications, he just talked about how impressed he was that I had been happily married for such a long time. It was totally irrelevant to the occasion, I was talking on presentation skills not marriage guidance. I was so embarrassed and the audience totally disinterested. Be relevant!
At one of the best events I ever Mceed people were so full of praise because of the way we all managed the timing, we had a guy in the audience hold up huge cards with 5 mins, 2 mins and 1 mins on and he sat right in front of the speakers. When they saw 0 they'd all been told they must stop, and if they spoke for more than 30 secs their microphone was muted. It was great - everyone kept to time!
Of course your speakers need to know what signs you are going to give them that time is up, yet I still laugh about the time, when I was the keynote speaker at a conference of 500+ and the master of ceremonies tried to attract my attention from the very far left side of the auditorium virtually behind me. I didn't know she was trying to tell me I only had 5 minutes to go, I thought she was getting people to bring up the awards for the next section! I ignored her as I would have had to stop speaking and turn away from the audience to find out what she wanted or meant! She was so upset with me, but I said "You should have told me beforehand what you were going to do and don't hide in the corner!".
Rachel Green is one of Australia's most dynamic and engaging professional speakers, an award-winning emotional intelligence and engagement specialist, and a top job interviews coach.
She has been awarded the highest level of international accreditation in the professional speaking profession: Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). This is judged by the top professional speakers in Australia. She has also twice been nominated for the Telstra Business Woman of the Year award.
She has spoken to large conference audiences and small meetings; delivered motivational speeches and technical ones; lectured in universities and spoken in art centres; given presentation coaching to sports stars, senior politicians, corporate executives, lawyers, accountants, and more.
In addition, she has been the regular master of ceremonies at one of Western Australia's most famous folk music clubs, faced 900 people at the Perth Convention Centre as the Master of Ceremonies at a 2-day international conference; and spoken at hundreds of seminars.
She knows what it is like to face an audience and do well!
She has qualifications in psychology, speech pathology, adult education and the Feldenkrais method, and is an accredited user of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the Genos 360 Emotional Intelligence Inventory, the Judgment Index, and the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence test.
She is the author of 20 CDs, 3 DVDs, a printed book and at least 8 E-books ... and is still writing.
In her spare time she likes to meditate, do the gardening and watch the footy ... and with her husband laugh at their favourite comedy videos.