This fall brought me an opportunity to help a friend and then another.
My feelings on becoming a better speaker is to never turn down an opportunity and when that opportunity is something you never did before, that is even better. I hope you approach your business and speaking opportunities the same way. As a parent I certainly want my son to be mentally prepared to accept a new challenge even when he is not 100% ready.
Is it really different or even difficult to be the Master of Ceremonies for an event? Different yes, difficult from a speaking standpoint no, from a timing standpoint yes.
The opening speech.
Some one will probably introduce you with a few comments. When they ask you for your bio keep in mind why you are there. You are not there to promote you. You are helping the organization create a successful event that they have probably been working toward for months. Your bio should include something that connects you to the purpose of the organization and keep it short.
The first event I MC’d was for the Crohns and Colitis Foundation. My bio included host of radio, Tv and comedy shows, it also included my connection to last years MC, and my connection with group. My wife has colitis and the group helped us through a rough time. Now I had their attention.
Your Bio is the opening statement and the one that will get the audiences attention. Now it is your moment to shine, Whether your event is a charity walk or an awards ceremony the attendees have worked very hard for this moment and your goal is to bring the emotion out. For the Crohns walk I was able to tell them how a prior event helped us and that knowing that people were there to talk with and share information meant so much and this was only possible by their continued support was my opening story. It is my story, but what if you don’t have a personal connection? Find one.
My next MC event will be for the Hope For Youth organization. Up to this event, I had not even known about them, so what can I say?
My first step was to learn about their mission, easy enough I asked my friend that had referred me as the MC and the business development officer to fully explain their efforts. There is also the website and any articles to read. Now that I did my research it became much easier to find the connection and there was one, actually many, but I was only going to speak of one.
Just like any speech you will give you must know your audience. Ask who the attendees are. Employees, volunteers, sponsors or people in the program. In this case it will be a combination, with only one person in the program attending, to protect their privacy. Now you know your audience.
3-5 minutes in length, emotional and establishing a connection between you and the attendees is your mission, are you ready?
If you feel better thanking them for allowing you to MC, then go ahead. I favor saving that for the end, but that is a personal preference. First minute or two is about how they help the community they serve, next one to two is your connection, and then a big thanks to the sponsors, the attendees and how honored you are to be standing alongside such phenomenal people.
The get out of the way, know how you are introducing the other speakers and recipients. This should be given to you by the event coordinator and bring a clock, You are now the timer, be sure to know how much time to give each speaker and let them know how much time they have and how you will let them know when they have 30 seconds left. I have found that newer speakers lose track of time when nervous. Use a small light, a flashlight or your cellphone is fine, with your back to the audience you can discreetly let them know when to finish. This will keep the event on time and allow the speaker to worry about what they are saying and not how long they are talking to say it.
If you have to pull someone away from the podium, keep this in mind, If they are a big donor, they may have earned the extra time.
Use your extra time to be prepared on what you will say and then you will always be prepared to do something that you have never done before.
Live outside the comfort zone. Amazing things happen there.