I hate it when people refer to speaking as a “soft skill” it’s actually quite a hard skill to master! What made it easy for me to transition into as a speaker was to first start speaking as a master of ceremony (MC). Below are my insights to being a memorable MC.
Protocols: Your role is to ensure that event proceedings and protocols are maintained. Obtain a list of dignitaries, event sponsors and other important guests to acknowledge at the start of the event. Announce the standard event etiquette, like switching mobile devices to silent. Confirm with the event organisers if gifts will be handed to the speakers and if so, who will perform this duty.
Align to the event theme: As an MC, prepare a list of snippets of information (stories, facts, jokes) to share with the audience in between speakers. This will ensure that there is a good transition and a light, ‘thinking’ break for your audience. As a way to entrench learning, you can request your audience to “pair up and share lessons learnt from a previous speaker.” This gives your audience a chance to review, reflect and engage – under timed restrictions that you will announce on the day.
Logistics & Equipment: As an MC, your primary role is to maintain the event proceedings. For this, speak to the event organisers to understand: timing; agenda; speaker details; walk-on music (optional) and general flow for the event. Obtain in advance speaker introduction and biographies. Ideally sit close to the event organisers or the technicians – this allows you to quickly communicate any changes to incorporate during the event. Sit in an aisle seat or close to the back of the room. Prepare timing cards or arrange a ‘count-down’ clock that is within sight of your speakers so that they can end their speaking slot on time. Arrive at the event at least 1.5 hours prior to the event to conduct sound, technical and stage checks. Request a list of cell-phone numbers of key people (event organisers, speakers, technicians) in the event that you need to send a quick sms update or follow-up before and during the event.
Finally, prepare a detailed running script, listing the event proceedings that will guide you and your technician in your role as speaker / MC.