BUT I'M JUST THE MC - Con Koutsikas Public Speaking and Communication Trainer and Coach

But I’m JUST the MC

Just before COVID-19, I attended a small, but significant event held by a major charity.  It was significant because amongst the speakers and attendees was the CEO, The Head of Marketing, a number of senior staff and very importantly the State Government Minister responsible for this area.  They had done some things really well.  A stage had been arranged along with good quality PA equipment which had been checked and was in working order and they had a clear running sheet for the evening.   Nice canapés along with lovely, quality refreshments were on offer in a comfortable area with seating as required. Pretty good so far……. Sadly that’s where it ended!  Now, I want to be clear about this, the purpose of this article is not to bag the charity or any of the participants and hence why no names will be mentioned.  The purpose is to inform and prepare any of the readers should they be required to fill the role of an MC or arrange any such event.

What went wrong and what should have happened.

I have no political affiliations and politicians in general aren’t on my Christmas card list, that said, if they are invited to attend your event, they should be respected and extended courtesy.  So, the minister in question turns up about 15 minutes late, no big deal but then she is left standing there with no allocated seat, in fact no seat at all!  There she was, leaning on the wall, looking somewhat awkward.  It was only after 10 minutes or so that someone actually offered her a seat.  There should have been a designated seat for her which should have been identified.

The MC got things underway and apart from being nervous and the common splattering’s of Um’s and Ah’s, she did ok. Ill only mention this once as an aside, she wasn’t alone in the Um stakes!  I would expect a CEO of any major organisation, corporate or NFP to not add um’s and ah’s after every sentence.  Back to the main point.   There was some good humour to entertain and I though she was going well.  She introduced the minister as the next speaker and invited her to the stage and that’s when the wheels fell off!!  As the minister approached, the MC walked off the stage.  She should have waited for the minister to arrive at the lectern, shake hands whilst smiling and maintaining eye contact THEN walk off the stage.  Why is this important?  For the guest, it makes them feel welcome and comfortable and extends them the courtesy and respect they deserve.   For goodness sake, we are talking about a member of parliament in this example.  For you as the MC, it indicates YOU are in control of the proceedings and builds connection and report with your audience.  Very import

When the minister finished, as the MC was not close by and given she wasn’t greeted at the beginning, the minister just walked of the stage…..awkward.  As the MC, you need to be close by and again shake hands, quietly thank her and as she is walking off the stage, publicly acknowledge her.  This, unfortunately was standard fare for the entire evening.

There were a number of awards to be handed out but as names were called out come recipients were not present.  So you have the MC, CEO and MP on stage waiting for the named recipient to come on stage but it doesn’t happen.  A bit uncomfortable to say the least.  The fact this happened multiple times and the reasons the recipients were not present is not important for this conversation but as MC, you need to check and make sure.  If they aren’t present, after announcing them as the winner you can seamlessly go on to “unfortunately Mary can’t be here this evening”.  Again, this indicates confidence and authority.  You know exactly what’s going on and everything is under control.

The role of MC obviously varies with the different type of events ranging from presentation ceremonies to weddings etc., but in all you need to demonstrate you have authority and control.

So let me summarise some of the key items for your next role as an organiser or MC at an event.

  1. Make sure all the audio visual equipment has been checked and is in working order.
  2. Ensure the access to the stage, (if there is one) is clear for walking on and off.
  3. Make sure seating is close by the relevant participants and they know where it is.
  4. Ensure you have some information about the speaker which is relevant to the proceedings and NEVER upstage them, not even if you think it’s funny.  Remember, this is not about you.
  5. Always greet the next speaker at the lectern before leaving and thank them before they leave the stage.
  6. Know which award recipients are not present so as to not waste time waiting but more importantly avoid the awkwardness on stage.
  7. Have a clear and accurate run sheet.
  8. Ensure your notes are word processed and the font is large and clear.  More importantly as we get a touch older…I mean more mature!

Depending on the size of the event, there will be dedicated people to assist with these and other areas but, trust me, it doesn’t hurt to ask questions!

The role of MC is important so attending to above mentioned items will make for a more professional, organised event.  Of course to really excel, get yourself some coaching or do a course.  If it’s a special occasion like a wedding, there is no second chance.  If its work, make an outstanding impression to you bosses and work colleagues.  Work on your eye contact, body language, stage craft and your tonality to make a real impression and take your presenting to a whole new level.  You just don’t know what opportunities will open up.

As always we look forward to your comments and feedback.

My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist.

Until next time, Bye for now.

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