A great Master of Ceremonies (MC) or host is an essential element of your event. An experienced and engaging MC can seamlessly tie together the different aspects of the event, ensuring that your conference runs smoothly, and attendees remain energized and engaged throughout the day.
The tasks of an MC
An MC has many responsibilities that they need experience to fulfil to make your event a success.
Setting the tone and maintaining energy levels
A great MC is responsible for setting the tone of the conference from the very beginning. They create an atmosphere that is welcoming, engaging, and professional. By delivering an impactful opening address, they can immediately capture the attention of the attendees and get them excited about the conference program. Throughout the event, the MC keeps the energy level high by using humour, storytelling, and with audience interaction. They can adeptly transition between sessions, ensuring that attendees stay engaged and motivated.
Time management and smooth transitions
One of the key responsibilities of an MC is to ensure that the conference runs on time. They are skilled at keeping speakers on track, managing Q&A sessions, and making any necessary adjustments to the schedule when unforeseen circumstances arise. A good rule of thumb is any delay above 5 min should be corrected by adjusting the schedule, especially if your event has multiple tracks at the same time. The host also plays a crucial role in facilitating smooth transitions between different sessions, speakers, and panel discussions. They can adeptly introduce speakers, frame the context for each session, and wrap up each segment with a brief summary, ensuring that the conference flows seamlessly from one topic to another.
Enhancing audience engagement
A skilled MC knows how to engage the audience effectively and encourage participation. They can pose thought-provoking questions, facilitate audience interaction with speakers and panellists, and create opportunities for attendees to connect with one another.
Dealing with a hybrid audience
In a hybrid event, virtual participants may sometimes feel disconnected or unheard due to the physical advantage of in-person attendees. The MC plays a critical role in ensuring that the voices of virtual participants are acknowledged and amplified. Looking into the camera, when addressing the virtual participants, helps the MC establish a personal connection with them. It conveys a sense of direct communication and attentiveness, making virtual attendees feel included and engaged in the event. A skilled MC addresses questions and comments from virtual attendees and conveys their perspectives to the in-person audience and vice versa, thereby creating parallels between what’s happening on either side of the hybrid event. They always opt for balancing virtual and in-person questions, giving everyone equal opportunity to ask questions. By embracing a two-path communication, the MC can create an inclusive, interactive, and dynamic event experience for all participants.
Crisis management and adaptability
In the event of unexpected issues or technical difficulties, a seasoned MC is capable of quickly adapting to the situation, maintaining the audience’s attention, and ensuring that the conference continues to run smoothly. Their ability to think on their feet and effectively handle any issues that arise is invaluable in maintaining the overall success of your event.
Tip: When interviewing potential MCs, make sure to feel to “click” with them. Listen to your intuition and create a situation to test their skills, how they react to unforeseen changes and problems.
Balancing community involvement and professional expertise
When choosing an MC for your conference, an important consideration is whether to source from within your community or hire a professional. Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks, and the ideal choice may depend on the specific goals and objectives of your event.
Advantages of a community-sourced MC
Selecting an MC from within your community can have several advantages. A community-sourced MC will likely have a strong understanding of your audience, the topics being discussed, and the values that your organization represents. They may also have established relationships with attendees and speakers, which can help to foster a sense of camaraderie and connection throughout the event. However, a community-sourced MC may not have the same level of hosting experience or skills as a professional MC, which could impact the overall quality and effectiveness of their performance – and your conference.
Pairing a community member and a professional MC
If fostering community involvement is a priority for your event, a hybrid approach of pairing a community-sourced MC with a professional MC can offer an effective solution. This approach combines the strengths of both options, creating a powerful and engaging hosting duo. The community-sourced MC can provide valuable insights into the audience, subject, and your organization’s values, while the professional MC can ensure a polished, engaging, and well-executed event. Together, they can create a unique conference experience that is both deeply connected to your community and professionally delivered.
Tip: If your budget allows for it, have a professional MC and a community MC to lead through your conference together. It will give you the best from both.