"Erudite - The smart ones, the ones value knowledge and logic." - A vague Divergent Series reference.
From what I hear, the world of emceeing is tough. Every now and then, an MC will be faced with a tough crowd that they will have to wrestle with for the rest of the evening. Now, I don’t know why some people think that PR people make good MCs. You might have thought, “Well, his job is to talk to people, isn’t it?” It’s not the same thing. Most times, PR guys have pre-scripted responses to the usual questions. You’d think it would be easier at events where people don’t get to ask you questions while you tick the boxes on your checklist. And just wearing the fancy clothes and speaking in a fancy accent don’t cut it anymore. I'm not quite sure if it pays to be a snobbish MC either. I'll investigate further.
There’s the constant concern of competing with social media for attention. It must suck to be up there talking to people who aren’t showing a modicum of interest in what you’re saying. And here’s where the lot of them have the annoying habit of asking, “Can you hear me?” Of course we can hear you. You keep tapping the mic to make sure it’s on. We’re busy tweeting about how you’re being unentertaining or unsure of yourself. Besides, there are politer ways to catch the audience’s attention than simply barking at them to give you attention.
I was at an event once and this MC thought that his forced ‘British’ accent would show how debonair he was. The way he handled the event was far from elegant. And you’d actually notice the change in accent whenever he got frustrated by the audience.
Of course, it’s refreshing when you are at an event and the MC has their stuff together. They speak with such understanding of what the objective of the event is and their humor has a theme. Plus, they respect the audience enough not to treat it like a kindergarten class. If you have to struggle to get people's attention, that just means there's something wrong with your methods. These are adults you're addressing. They won't be bullied or coerced into giving you attention simply because you're demanding it. You might even notice them glaring at you, impatiently waiting for you to say your peace and leave the stage. There might be a few venerable guests talking amongst themselves and make you feel like they’ll miss your point but that’s fine. Just smile and address the person that’s listening (there’s always people listening that get peeved whenever you break your train of thought to call for attention). As an MC, you must earn the attention of the audience. Don't assume that they'll just give it to you. You should know such things lest you one day find yourself in a situation where you're the poorest, least influential person in the room.
You know what could help? Tell stories. Of course it helps a lot when you can link a story to one of the items on your list, but people like stories. As an MC, you’re just the filler between events. You’re like a valet, an announcer, a waiter. You know, you just fill in the gaps. But you know that such people get tips, right? Not that you should expect tips for being great. But you know that the good ‘fillers’ get remembered. The ordinary ones are soon out of mind. The bad ones leave a stench on the whole event. They’ll probably shun you forever. But even so, you should know the difference between an MC, a pastor, a politician, an artiste, a guest speaker, guest of honor, a comedian, a lecturer, and a teacher. If you can get a proper entertaining mix of the above, please go ahead. If you can't, stay in your lane.