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It’s not easy being a confident and skilled emcee, moderator or facilitator, as these roles require additional skill sets to public speaking.
But it’s important to develop these skills because if you’re moving up in your career, or if you’re seen as an authority or thought leader in your industry, you never know when you’ll be asked or required to use them.
In this episode I share 6 big ideas to help you be more confident and competent as an emcee, moderator and facilitator. See an outline of these ideas below.
Want more? Listen to these related episodes:
In other news…
I’ll be speaking at the RMIT Entrepreneurs’ Coffee Club event next week!
Come by nice and early, see me speak, ask me anything, and grab a FREE coffee while you’re at it 🙂 Click here or the image below for full details and to register (it’s free).
Ok, back to the podcast…
What is an emcee?
By ’emcee’ I don’t mean rapper, although I have been known to rap.
I mean emcee or ‘MC’ as in ‘Master of Ceremonies’. An MC is the official host, and their role is to set the tone for the event, make announcements, make sure it runs to time, provide a segue between each act or speaker, and make sure the audience is engaged and having a good time. You may have had opportunities to MC a wedding or an important birthday party, maybe you’ve emceed a work or charity event.
What is a moderator?
This is a definition I found on MCU: A moderator is an individual who presides over an assembly, meeting, or discussion. They monitor the exchange between participants and move discussions from one topic to another to keep conversation organised. If the tone of a forum becomes hostile or starts to move in the direction of personal attacks, the forum moderator usually has the discretion to address the issues.
You’ll find moderators presiding over panel discussions at events or on TV shows, and over presidential and other leadership debates.
What is a facilitator?
Again, from MCU: A facilitator is someone who helps a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan to achieve those goals without taking a particular position in the discussion. Normally used where there is an existing disagreement or problem and the goal is to achieve a consensus or direction for moving forward to solve that problem.
The important thing to know is a facilitator is NEUTRAL and unbiased. They help the group come to an outcome and solve the problem, but don’t apply their own opinions.
6 ideas for being confident and competent at emceeing, moderating and facilitating:
1. It’s not about you
You’re not the star of the show here. Sorry to burst your bubble, but unless you’re LL Cool J hosting the Grammys, people aren’t here to see YOU, they’re here to see the speakers, or connect with other people, or drink as much free alcohol as possible.
So have some fun with it. You’re not expected to put on a show, right?
The same goes if you’re moderating or facilitating. It’s not about YOU, it’s about the people having the discussion. That’s where the audience attention will be.
To help take the focus off you when you’re preparing for an emcee role, focus instead of making other people look good. Practice reading out their bio, practice saying it with excitement and gusto. Tell people how excited YOU are to see them speak.
2. You’re running the show
At the same time, you also need to understand that YOU’RE running the show, NOT the speakers. As an emcee, you’re the one on stage holding the mic. That’s power. And with great power, comes great responsibility. It’s your responsibility to get everyone to shut up, to sit down, to get ready for the next act. So own it!
Same goes for if you’re moderating. Speakers will ramble on or argue with each other for forever if you let them. You need to get comfortable with jumping in and saying: “Thank you for sharing, we do need to move on.” If you want to practice, ask two friends to pretend to have an argument, and practice jumping in. You’re not being rude, you’re being firm.
If you’re facilitating, it’s very important that as an unbiased individual you don’t leave anyone out and make sure everyone has a fair go at contributing to the discussion. You will ALWAYS encounter people who love the sound of their own voice and happily speak over the top of others. You need to take control and say: “Ok thanks for your contribution, now let’s hear from so-and-so.”
3. Set the tone
Think about what you want the tone of the event to be. Is it serious? Fun? Inspirational? Whatever it is, YOU have the power to set the tone. If you’re anxious and nervous, other people will be too. Show people you’re having fun, and they’ll relax too.
If you make a mistake, laugh it off. Again, it’s NOT ABOUT YOU. Make a joke about it and say “They only told me to say this 5 minutes ago” or “Whoops! That’s not what’s written on the schedule!”.
4. Be a great tour guide
Pretend you’re a tour guide in the driver’s seat. You need to let your audience know: Where are they going? How long is the journey going to last? Where will they be going? How many stops will there be? What will they see along the way?
As an emcee, this is important to avoid the audience feeling confused or wondering when the next coffee break will be.
If you’re facilitating, remind people of what the goal is and that they need to focus on reaching that particular outcome. If you’re moderating, tell people how long they have to speak, and how long they have for questions.
5. Keep the audience engaged
This is SO important. It’s not easy for people to sit there all day listening to speakers. You know why TED talks are less than 18 minutes long? That’s how long people’s attention span is! So think about the poor audience. At many events, the sessions often go for 45 minutes to an hour!
If you want the best for your audience AND the best for the speakers, keep the audience engaged. And you DON’T need to be a standup comedian. Instead, get them up and moving.
Here are some ideas:
– Get people to stand up and have a stretch
– Get them to change seats
– Get them to massage each other (in appropriate ways :P)
– Get them to introduce themselves to the person next to them.
6. Look after yourself
When you’re a speaker, you’re on for those 20 minutes or whatever, but when you’re emcee, you’re ON the WHOLE TIME. Even when an act is on, you’re thinking about the next bit, checking the schedule, having people tell you “Don’t forget to announce this!”
It’s super exhausting, so you need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, and in between, take lots of deep breaths to stay calm and focused.
So there you go, 6 big ideas to help you be a more effective emcee, moderator and facilitator. Listen to the episode to hear more stories and lessons!