So you've been tapped to emcee an event. First of all, cheers to you! I always think it is an honor to be able to be in the position of the emcee. It is definitely more than just standing up and talking into a microphone. The role of an emcee is an important one. So whether you are just starting out or have done this a time or two, here are some helpful tips for your next gig.
1. Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is very important because it dictates the tone you set for the event. For example, the atmosphere you set for a women’s empowerment conference could be different from an annual gala or fundraiser. The audience for a popular music concert will have different expectations than an annual block party for the community. Your content as an emcee will be different from one event to another so you have to know your audience and know how to cater specifically to them.
2. Rehearse Scripts Beforehand
Please don’t ever, ever, ever ever (in my Chris Tucker voice), read a script cold. It is vital to get any scripts (bios, info) beforehand so that you can practice. This is so important, especially when introducing people. Have you ever heard an emcee introduce someone and flubbed up the person’s name?! You want to avoid this at all costs. This is why getting bio’s beforehand and working out those 4-syllable names is crucial. Another reason why you want to practice your script is so that you can make eye contact with your audience more frequently. Reading from a paper word for word won’t allow you to do that.
3. Introduce Yourself
You’d be surprised how many emcees forget to introduce themselves. People want to know who you are and how you are connected to this event. This is why emcees who are not well known, might lead with a story of how they got involved with a particular organization or even a short video that serves as an introduction. This also helps establish a connection with your audience.
4. Have a Secret Weapon
So quite naturally, things happen…all the time. A video doesn’t play. Someone doesn’t come out on stage when they’re supposed to. Someone misses a cue. What do you do? You have to fill in the gap. There should absolutely be no dead air on stage. Even you have to take a 5 min break or tell the DJ to play a song, dead air is a big no-no. Have a story or joke that the audience will understand. You can perhaps even joke about the mishap, if it’s appropriate. Whatever you do, remember you are in control and have to keep things going.
Ask any emcee to tell you why an event went so well and I can bet one of the reasons will be because the audience was engaged! Some ways to engage your audience is through eye contact, asking questions, getting them to participate, giving away promotional items. An engaged audience is thee best audience and this is what you want. Now, sometimes, tough crowds are inevitable for anyone. No matter what, do your part and do your best.
6. Good Energy
Positive vibes only! Simply put, your audience feeds off of your energy. If you are dry, your audience will definitely be dry. If you project good, positive vibes, your audience will sense that as well. The energy you give off has a direct effect on the atmosphere and tone of the whole event so bring those positive vibes and smiles all the way to the very end of the event.
It’s very normal to be nervous before you hit the stage. Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself “I got this!” Think about how good of a job you are going to do. Think about how much the audience is going to enjoy the evening. Don’t fret. Go out there with a clear mind, free from anxiety and ready to have a good time.
8. Arrive Early
Unexpected things happen at the most inconvenient times! (the last minute). Arriving early is important because if there are any last minute changes to your script, to the show or with the honorees, you’ll have enough time to make adjustments.
9. Be Yourself
If you don't remember anything else, REMEMBER THIS. Being your authentic self is so important as an emcee. Truth be told, anyone can get up and read a note card or make announcements. The difference is blending your own personal unique factor into your duties as an emcee. So what ever your unique flavor is, pour it on them! This makes you unforgettable as you help to keep the event flowing.
10. It's Not About You
Okay so to balance out Tip #9, you must remember that you not the star of the show. You are really there to help the event shine as bright as possible. So don't put all the pressure on yourself. The totality of the success (or not) of the event does not fall all on you but take responsibility for your part and do your absolute best in that.
11. “God Bless You, Goodnight”
A strong closing is important. Thanking the sponsors, the VIPS, and especially the audience should not be over looked. You might even have a saying to close your emcee events. For example, there was a show that came on cable called Def Comedy Jam back in the 90's. After every show, Russell Simmons, the shows creator, would get on stage and say “God bless you, Goodnight.” That was it! But you know what, every single time I watched Def Comedy Jam, I looked forward to Russell Simmons coming on stage to deliver that one line and wave goodbye. It was the simplest, catchiest closing and always received a big thunderous round of applause. So whatever you do, understand that a closing should not be overlooked.
Are you ready to get out there and shine in your role as emcee? Did any of these tips help you? Drop me a few lines and let me know @moniqueshurray.
Monique Shurray is an Entertainment Journalist & Media Personality. Grab her free Podcast Interviewer's Checklist here to keep you ready for all of your podcast interviews.