There are 12 things I have learned over the years as an emcee at hundreds of pageants, fairs, award ceremonies of every description, the annual International Retailer of the Year Awards in Chicago, and the Positive Thinking Rallies.
1. As emcee, you are the captain of the ship, the host. The members of the audience are your guests. Your job is to make them comfortable, to create a dialogue between them and the various events on the program.
2. The job calls for a sense of theater.
3. You are not the show, but you are responsible for the flow, the housekeeping, often the introductions, and the audience's concerns -- the total program.
4. You are not the star, but are still critical to the program's success.
5. This job requires preparation. Do your homework.
6. Either carry survival tools or know where to find them (flashlight, extra script, filler materials, etc.).
7. You are the fire marshal.
8. It's your attitude that shows.
9. Set the stage for real people and a worthy audience. Answer the audience's question of, "What's in it for me?"
10. You are the sergeant-at-arms.
11. Have fun.
12. Don't overstep your boundaries.
You can create a useful talent to enhance your value to the meeting professional. Work hard enough that the meeting planner will want you to return as the emcee next year. Then you can sell a speech to go with it!
Ty Boyd, CEO of Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, is in the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Speakers Hall of Fame. He has taught presentation skills to Fortune 1000 executives in more than 40 countries. His Excellence In Speaking Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.