If you’ve ever seen an emcee work, you’ll know that event emceeing is an art form. A good emcee means having ultimate control over event proceedings.
But a great emcee means making for such a magical experience, audience members will ask for your business card after. And a poor emcee, well, we’ve all experienced that before, haven’t we?
So if you’ve got an upcoming event that you want the entire audience to rave about, consider these wonderful tips below. Not to toot our own horn, but we like to think we know a thing or two about event hosting.
What is the role of a professional emcee?
We can all agree that the right kind of emcee experience is about stage presence, not stage fright. It’s about making the first impression stellar, not leaving a low energy presentation on the stage.
But the main job of an emcee is to convey enthusiasm. Sure, there are some advanced tips we’ll be happy to share a little later in the post.
But the true call of an emcee is to make live events exciting enough to pique the audience’s interest. And well-managed enough to not make a stage manager want to pull their hair out.
So how can you become that easy, breezy, beautiful Covergirl of an emcee? We thought you’d never ask…
See Related: 20 Ways To Engage Your Virtual Gathering
How to be a good and effective emcee for your event
It’s perfectly normal to be a bit nervous. But rather than let those nerves get the best of you, here’s a helpful tip or two that’ll give you both a successful event and a confidence boost.
#1. Know your audience members
A professional emcee will do their homework. Trust us, we’re pro virtual event hosts!
And there’s nothing worse (or more unprofessional) than getting up in front of a room and having little to no background knowledge of the content you’re meant to present. That’s what we call not understanding the school assignment.
Instead, you should know who the special guests are in the room. And you should know what kind of audience members will be showing up.
Otherwise, you might as well be on stage delivering a vegan-themed monologue to a roomful of steak lovers. (Just an example, definitely not based on any real life events…)
#2. Construct an effective event opening
Some people seem to think that an emcee has to plan out an elaborate opening ceremony. But let’s be real.
The Oscars haven’t even had a successful elaborate emcee opening ceremony in quite some time. And before you think we’re dissing the Oscars, we’re absolutely not.
Because sometimes, you don’t necessarily need an elaborate opening. You just need an effective one.
One that gets the audience effectively engaged. And maybe even gets any nay-sayers in the room genuinely interested in what’s about to come.
(Not that we’re saying you’ll have to deal with a heckler or two. But it’s always best to be prepared!)
Either way, your opening will set the tone for the entire event. So make the stage positive and fanciful even.
And remember that you could charm the heck out of an empty room. (Just a couple words of validation to get your confidence level up!)
#3. Bring out the positive and energetic vibes
Event organizers and event planners have a ton of different responsibilities. But bringing the good vibes into the room isn’t necessarily one of them.
Sure, they can set the stage for such fun to happen. But the engaging manner with which an emcee has to saunter on to the stage is an entirely different ballroom.
And one that relies on humility, charm, and wit. You might be thinking, “Okay, I get it, no zero energy.”
But that’s not all. An emcee plays a central role throughout the evening, so they must sound bright and project to get everyone on the same page in the room.
And when the occasion calls, they must ensure minimal disruptions. That means being able to pivot issues that occur or engage the audience individually while crew members handle a technical issue with the sound system, for example.
We’ve all had the painful experience of watching someone freeze up when an issue occurs. And all it leaves is a nagging hole left on the stage.
So make sure your event starts on a good note. And keep the entire tone of the event upbeat and jovial.
#4. Engage in some audience interaction
If you’ve been asked to emcee an event and you don’t have enough material for your emcee script, turn to your audience. Audiences love when an emcee wrangles them into the act.
It’s light, it’s upbeat, and it gets the audience engaged with each other. That being said, don’t make your entire event all about audience interaction.
Instead, weave it throughout your emcee presentation. And play with your delivery too!
You can explore your own voice by making certain bits faster and more exciting. Or change your pace to be a slightly slower one so you can really grab the audience’s attention.
All of these tips and more will help you keep the audience engaged throughout the event. And before you know it, they’ll be hanging on your every word.
#5. Introduce yourself to establish credibility
You might be surprised to know just how many emcees forget to introduce themselves. And while some may see this as a small hiccup, it’s actually a pretty big blunder when it comes to the audience’s understanding of the evening.
They want to know who’s onstage reading the speaker’s bio. What’s their connection to the event itself?
And how did they wind up emceeing in the first place? All of these questions and more get answered with a simple introduction.
This isn’t to say that you should make the whole event about you. In fact, that’s far from the point of emceeing.
But taking the time to introduce yourself as an emcee will make your audience feel much more secure. After all, they’re trusting you to lead them through the event’s proceedings.
So give them a little bit more to go off of other than, “Yeah, they were great! But we never did learn their name, did we?”
#6. Share key event information
This might seem like an obvious point. But emceeing is 50% charisma and 50% organization.
(We could break it down further, but we don’t have time to delve into that rabbit hole!) Too often, an event host will get too wrapped up in the moment that they forget to divulge important information.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, we’ve all done it. (Well, not us at Clean Comedians®.)
But keeping a cool head with lots of plates spinning in the air is what an emcee does best. So making sure that audience laughter is matched with audience understanding is crucial.
Besides, if it was all laughs, there wouldn’t be room for any of the other events to take place. And if it was all business, could you really call that an event to begin with?
Okay, maybe a work event. But you want folks going home and telling their families all about the fun they had, right?
It might seem like a tricky balance to find at first. But it’s the best way to make the most out of your event.
#7. Introduce the program ahead and make for smooth transitions
Some people like surprises, and others don’t. Well, in order to make everyone happy, it’s best as an emcee to lay out the format of the event.
Then, add in a couple of small surprises here and there. This way, you can make sure everyone knows what’s coming up next.
And then, in the transitions, you can add a couple of jokes to spice things up. After all, transitions are the exact time for an emcee to shine.
While the next event is being set up, an emcee has to keep the audience entertained. So what better time to engage with audience members or tell a funny story about how you stumbled onto this emceeing job.
And if you’ve got any rough spots that need to be ironed out, be prepared with a couple of funny anecdotes. You never know what will happen at a live event.
And that’s what makes them exciting! But you’ll need a contingency plan just in case you need to entertain the audience on stage for longer than just a short transition.
#8. Maintain eye contact with your audience
We get that maintaining eye contact with multiple people at once is, well, impossible. But eye contact is one of the surest ways to tell your audience that this event is going to be a smash.
The worst thing is going to an event and seeing someone read off of cue cards. It’s not engaging and you might as well have them project cue cards onto a screen for you to read off of instead.
So when you’re hosting, make sure the audience knows that you’re engaging with them. Don’t go overboard or anything.
But show them that you’re invested in their entertainment. And it’ll do wonders for the rest of the event.
After all, it’s these small moments of decency and compassion that make an event as successful as it can be. So remember to be authentic and make the audience know you care!
#9. Be prompt, prepared, and on time
You’re the one running the show, right? Then you definitely don’t want to show up late.
In show business, we have a saying. Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable. And that’s the truth!
We, of all people, know just how much work goes into making these events happen. So as an emcee, you’ll want to make sure you show your appreciation by being prompt and bringing a positive attitude.
Oh, and not to mention being prepared! There’s only so many tips we can give you. The prep work you’ll have to do on your own.
#10. Practice makes perfect
If you’ve got a script to follow, you’ll want to make sure you know it like the back of your hand. So take the time to run through the event’s proceedings even if nobody’s in the audience.
Especially if nobody’s in the audience. That way, you can make a mistake or two and take notes on problem areas you’re having.
The point is this: you’ll want to be sharp as a pin. Not only in how you look, dress, and carry yourself.
But in how you carry the entire evening. Sure, it’s a lot of responsibility to have placed on your shoulders. But you’re more than capable of making the evening an unforgettable one.
Making your event more fun
As emcees and corporate entertainers ourselves, we know just how rewarding a job it can be. To see peoples’ hard work all come to fruition?
And all in one fantastic night? There’s truly nothing like it.
So you can have all the nerves you want before you get up on stage. But remember that you’re the person fronting the event as a whole.
And that takes guts. Guts, which you definitely have. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have asked you to emcee!
Unless you volunteered. Now that’s a whole other set of guts you’ve got that we can’t even begin to praise.
So we won’t. We’ll just end it here, right now. Happy hosting!
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.