On Whose Side is the Master of Ceremonies?

Let’s consider the dynamic relationship between a Master of Ceremonies (MC) of an event and the public speaker. Let’s use Professor Val as an example. At the event, both of them were public speakers though the nature of their speeches differed. While the MC had the responsibility of overseeing and maintaining the smooth flow of the event, the Professor had the job of making a major presentation. Val’s task began and ended with his presentation while the MC had to ensure a proper transition between programmes, manage time and also ensure that the audience was satisfied.

You will recall that in the story, the MC observed that most of the people in the hall were not listening to the presentation. When he attempted to notify the Professor of the time he had left, the Professor reacted sharply by saying, “I have one hour to present. I will use my one hour”. In this case, we can see that Val saw the MC as the enemy who wanted to prevent him from delivering full value to the audience. A lot of times, speakers don’t like MCs because they put too much pressure on them to conclude their presentations. The big question now is this, “On whose side is the MC- the speaker’s or the audience’s?” I will say both, for the following reasons:

1. MCs help protect audience’s time: a good MC knows that the time of the audience is very valuable. People must have sacrificed something else to be at that event. Hence, their time must be treated with respect. The moment they feel their time is being wasted, their minds will begin to wonder, that is if they cannot get up and leave.

2. MCs help to protect the audience’s mood: when the audience is in a good mood, the event is a success already. On the other hand, if the audience is grumpy, the event is ruined. So, the MC ensures that people remain in high spirit by creating great expectation for each programme.

3. MCs preserve the audience’s attention: attention is the currency of public speaking. The more attention you command, the richer you are. Hence, the MC ensures that the audience remains attentive to every programme. One of the several ways to do this is to provide a recap of each major programme before introducing the next one.

4. MCs ensure a speaker’s success: a smart speaker should realise that if all the above points are achieved, a perfect platform has been created for his presentation. What better audience should one pray for than the one that is attentive, in a good mood and knows that the event organisers are good time managers? The speaker should simply build on this foundation.

5. MCs save speakers from embarrassment: while a speaker sees only his presentation and the audience, the MC is “all seeing”. While the speaker knows only about the last discussion he had with the organisers before he began his presentation, the MC is “all knowing”. The MC sees both the scene and behind-the-scenes. The MC knows of all modifications to the programme, unforeseen circumstances that have come up, new decisions by the organisers and even audience’s complaints. A good speaker should work with the MC to avoid embarrassment. In the story of Professor Val, the audience reacted with murmurs when he spoke sharply to the MC because they believed the MC was representing their interest. A wise speaker must see the MC as an ally.

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