Quick! Name the qualities of a great masters of ceremony (MC or emcee) off the top of your head. Were your top three answers – funny, charming and spontaneous? Those are usually the first things that comes to mind. However, an MC needs to be much more, if you want your reception to be a resounding success! Before you assign your most sociable friend this important task – please pause – and consider the key roles and important qualities listed below. Sometimes hiring a professional is a much better choice.
Photo by Annabel Law Productions
Key Roles of a Masters of Ceremony
Asking a close friend to be the MC seems like a logical choice as they are the ones who are familiar with your relatives and friends. Still getting people’s names right is only a small part. How confident are you that your friend would be able to put people at ease? Speaking in front of a big group is always nerve-wrecking, so you definitely want an MC who can ask the right questions that helps break the ice. Reconsider picking this particular friend, if he or she isn’t patient or just plain inexperienced, because that can result in a very awkward pause!
Keeping Track of Time
Okay, so you managed to find someone who is a real people’s person, that charismatic joker that makes anyone feel at home on stage; the flipside is that they may land up going off-topic and drag your reception way pass your allocated time slot. This is a huge no-no! Not only will you land up paying a hefty overtime charge, but the management may ask you to pack up in the middle of something important. So, always make sure your chosen MC has great time management in a social setting, because they are the ones dictating the flow of your program.
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A full wedding program will more than just speeches and the cake cutting ceremony, so your friend will have to do a little micromanaging to keep things running smoothly. Bad news is that it can get really crazy! They need to know the program by heart, entertain some last minute requests and even factor in some last minute reshuffling, while still making sure you wrap up on time. Do your potential MC a big favour and give them a detailed briefing before getting them to say ‘yes’! The last thing you need is to have them back down at the last minute.
Dealing with Hiccoughs
A lot of things can happen in the middle of your reception – the microphones failing, the stage lighting going bust or the speakers going offline – so you need someone who is able to stall for time as your trusty wedding planner and crew fix these minor problems. Your friend doesn’t have to be superman or superwoman and shoulder everything, but he or she should be able to keep calm and crack a couple of jokes to lighten up the atmosphere.
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Important (Overlooked) Qualities
Confident on Stage
Never assume that someone sociable can grab the mic and start hosting an event. Everybody has their own comfort zones and you need to respect that. Coaxing your friend to take centre stage when they told you they can’t cope is a recipe for disaster. Always try to meet up and heart-to-heart talk with your prospective MC. Your friend may not realize what they agreeing to otherwise.
Tactful When Speaking to a Diverse Audience
Weddings are already very emotional events, so one wrong word can really ruffle some feathers. This is made even more complicated by the fact that your guest list would consist of people of different ages. Your friend should know how to read his or her audience and adjust their tone accordingly. Striking the right balance is always going to be one Herculean feat.
Photo by Annabel Law Productions
Experienced Public Speaker
A lot times your friend’s success can be predicted based on their prior experience. They don’t have to be members of the Toast Masters club, but it helps if they are exposed to public speaking, whether it was through school or their various clubs and societies. Having this experience gives them that much needed confidence, because they know what to expect and how to plan ahead.
Flexible When Performing Under Pressure
Think carefully about the few occasions you approached him or her under high-pressured situations! How did they react? You ought to find another candidate, if you know that he or she is prone to be volatile. Your wedding day is going to be very busy, so you won’t have time to handle a diva, and frankly speaking, no one would want to handle him or her either, be it your wedding planner or another member of your bridal party.
The MC makes or breaks the entire reception. No matter how much you are willing to trust your friend, you need to think things over carefully. Just one poorly timed joke can undo all that effort you’ve put into planning the reception. Reflect deeply – and if there are some reservations – do the smart thing and hire a professional MC instead.
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