Aside from speaking, I have taken on other roles such as Stage MC or session moderator for various events. Today we’ll look at how you can take on this role and give your audience members the biggest bang for their buck by becoming a successful MC.
This role, simply put, involves introducing the keynote or next speaker in a multi speaker session. Your job as a successful MC is to keep the flow going with the evening or with the session you’re moderating. Think of yourself as the gel or the oil that keeps things moving. Now I’ve seen MC’s command the audience and I’ve seen others get ignored. If you’re one of those who gets ignored, then we have to figure out why and fix that.
The audience, always has the following thought in the back of their mind, “what’s in it for me to listen to you?” or “why should I listen to you?”. I hate to say it, but if you’re not the keynoter and simply the introducer, they’re thinking the same about you too.
So here are some tips to not getting ignored;
1) If the speaker has an introduction, give some life to it. Now this will save you a lot of time and headache because the speaker is taking responsibility for starting off their own speech. If the intro is boring and self-fulfilling, it won’t go anywhere. You’ll have to use your basic speaking mechanics such as vocal variety to make it sound interesting. If you just have your head down and are worried about making a mistake, your audience will see that and may only tune in partially. Be conversational with your audience, be natural and enjoy your time on the podium. If the audience sees you having fun, they’ll have fun and will have an easier time accepting the speaker you’re introducing.
2) If you’re going to mention speaker accomplishments, then how do their accomplishments benefit me? If a speaker was 5-time world wrestling champion, does that really help me raise sales forcasts for the next quarter? Here’s how I get my introducer to introduce me when I speak on Artificial Intelligence in Human Performance:
“Jawaad has used AI’s fundamental concepts of Experience, Task and Performance to bring projects back from the brink of disaster and back on the road to profitability”
3) Don’t turn yourself into the headliner. I’ve seen moderators go on and on and on. Hey, you’re not the headliner. So don’t eat into the speakers time, the speaker and the audience won’t appreciate it. See my earlier post on “Respecting the Clock” for why. I was once at a fundraising dinner for a very high profile politician. The person that was supposed to introduce him started off his introduction as normal, but kept going and going. His introduction was expected to last only a couple of minutes but instead ended up going at least 13 minutes. At which point the crowd, a large group of dignified politicians, started to heckle and show their anger at the introducer. What a bad start to give to your speaker! Luckily, the speaker was very charismatic and was able to salvage the situation and bring the audience back to his side and to even forgive the introducer. But thats a situation you don’t want to end up in.
4) Leave your thoughts and opinions at the door. Successful MC’s know that the audience is there to hear your speaker, not you. Your job is to set the stage and get the audience excited and interested in hearing about your speaker. Don’t use the podium as a medium to get your message across. Don’t get into why whales need to be saved or why we’re over or under taxed. Focus on the speaker, focus on the audience and focus on delivering the message.
5) After your speaker has finished, recap briefly 1 key point or the main point he or she made. Successful MC’s know that this would involve actually sitting and listening to the speech that your speaker gave. There are instances where I’ve had to multitask and was doing both audio/visual work as well as serving as a moderator (I know, not a good situation but sometimes it is what it is) for a session. In which case, aim for getting the main point or atleast one of the points made late in the speech and recapping that. After you’ve thanked the speaker or offered a gift or asked for another round of applause to keep the momentum going, try and mention that main point of the speech. Such as; “…Experience, Task and Performance – words to live by. Thank you Jawaad for sharing this enlightening speech with us….”
6) Save your alcohol for after you’re done. You may be tempted to indulge but we’ve all heard of cases at weddings where a plastered best man embarrasses the groom and bride – Nuff said!
So there you have it, tips on how to become a successful MC that will bring about an enjoyable and exciting experience for your audience even when you’re not the speaker. Try and approach this as a speech anyway even if you’re going to be speaking for only 45 seconds. Its still an experience you can grow from.
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