Read up on the background of the person(s) you’re going to introduce. Don’t skimp. Be thorough. Work out the best way to get to and from the event location. As host, you’ll need to be there long before everyone else arrives. Organise this, if you’re able to, well in advance of the event. Have a transport plan and stick to it.
Know Your Onions....learn!
There’s nothing worse than a Master of Ceremonies or event host who just reads out someone’s CV or biography. It also shows a lack of respect for your audience, so learn your introductions off by heart. Before doing so, talk to each of the speakers and ask them how they want to be introduced and don’t
be fobbed off with a Biography. You need a snappy introduction lasting no more than 15 – 20 seconds. That’s about 25-30 words max. One final thing, learn how to pronounce the name of your speaker. If in doubt ask. Mr Mike Death is likely to be pronounced Mr Mike “dee-ath”.
Now you’ve gathered everything you need to know start rehearsing. Depending on the type of conference or event, I start this process at least a couple of weeks beforehand. I suggest you do the same. Never
leave things until the last minute.
Do a run through (to a mirror if need be) of the items you’re going to cover and type up a working agenda. Then repeat until you’re satisfied you’re happy with your performance. Ask a colleague or friend to give you some feedback.
You maybe able to rehearse at the location a day or so beforehand.
Make sure that you do.
When you arrive at the event location double check with the organiser(who maybe a member of your staff) about timings. Run through the running order and synchronise your watches. If the event is of any size there will be a technical crew who will be able to assist you with microphone handling and other matters.
If your event has several speakers whom you’ll be introducing, have a card made out for each one (see Step 2) with their name and introduction. Only take the card on to the stage for the individual you’re about to introduce. Leave the running order and other information off-stage.
Before the event starts, make sure you introduce yourself to all of the speakers and double check they are fully prepared for their talk which may include the use of slides – you will, of course, have known about this beforehand!
Be courteous and polite to all staff at the event location. It’s a good idea to make “friends” with the doorman, receptionist, cloak-room attendant and bar staff. Do this and you’ll enhance your reputation with the event organiser.
Despite your attention to detail you may still be feeling a bit nervous before going on stage. Doing some breathing exercises like this one an hour or two (in a quiet room where you can’t be disturbed!) before you start may help alleviate the jitters.
Inhale through your nose and hold for 10 seconds. Exhale through your mouth. Hum the lowest note that you are able to for 10 seconds. You should be able to feel the natural resonance of your voice. Hum a high note and gradually decrease its pitch until you can drop it no further. Hold this low note until your lungs are completely empty. You should now notice that you are able to hum a note noticeably lower than you were able to during the previous exercise.
So you’re about to speak. Hopefully, you’re so well practiced that words will just flow mellifluously from your mouth and you’ll have the audience in the palm of your hand. But you must watch out for those awkward non-words and phrases which crop up almost without you noticing. Please remove over–used words like “fantastic”, “absolutely” and avoid “you know” at all costs. Nerves may cause you to utter “um’s” and “ahh’s “ cut them out.
On The Day
Above all you must enjoy your event, so before you get on stage – SMILE. If you don’t you may appear as lacking in confidence or ability to carry out your duties. Ensure you are well hydrated. Air-conditioned rooms have a habit of drying the throat. Start taking on extra fluids the night before an event and have a glass of water readily accessible when you’re on stage.
Finally, you’ll have an opportunity in your closing remarks to thank those who have put the event together. Don’t forget to mention them, by name, before you leave the stage.