Public Speaking is hard, it’s not easy to grab a microphone and just let the words flow out of your mouth. I know… for it took me a few times, in public, to feel comfortable doing announcements, introductions, and all the things that need to be said at a wedding. It’s even tougher trying to make events flow smoothly from one event to the next.
What is a Master of Ceremonies?
First, let’s define what is a Master of Ceremonies (MC). Some people think that the DJ is the MC, others that the wedding coordinator is the MC, and yet others think that a close family member or relative should be the MC. Which one of these is correct? Let’s find out.
The DJ as the Master of Ceremonies
Some DJ’s call themselves MC’s when in reality all they are is a DJ who makes the announcements. These DJ’s do this in order to trick their customers into feeling that they are getting more for their money. Don’t you think that’s wrong? I Do. I was at a recent Networking meeting where one DJ went on and on about how he is not a DJ, he is a Master of Ceremonies. Poor Fella. He was the DJ who volunteered to play the background music for the event and of course everyone who went up to meet him made the comment, “oh, so you’re the DJ?” to which he would reply “No, I’m not a DJ, I’m a Master of Ceremonies.” Mr DJ, Take a hint, and listen to what people are telling you. If you are perceived as the DJ then don’t fight it, you are the DJ. The guests will let you know what they think you are.
On a side note, I was approached at my last event, on Saturday March 22nd, and one of the guests asked me for my card for his daughter’s upcoming wedding. His words were, “Are you the Master of Ceremonies for the event? I need your card for my daughter’s upcoming wedding, we would like to hire you for her wedding.” Of course I was dressed as you would imagine a Master of Ceremonies would and I explained to him that I was the DJ and that I would be playing the role of the Master of Ceremonies. Which I believe is the right thing to do, I could have just gone on and let him believe that I was an MC, but that would not feel right. So you have to also look the part, so that other believe you, not just say it.
If you focus on the larger, entertainment world, when have you seen any MC take equipment to an event, play music, or entertain an audience through music? Probably Never! The Grammy Awards, The Oscars, Your Company Awards Ceremony, etc… All the MC’s there, do not play music, all they do is focus on presenting the performers and the people giving the awards. THAT’S IT! Nothing More. THE DJ (at a wedding) IS NOT THE MC. He is the DJ acting as the Master of Ceremonies.
What’s the difference? Well the Master of Ceremonies has one and only one duty. The Master of Ceremonies’ sole role is to make the proper verbal announcements and transitions from one formal event to the other. When was the last time you saw the MC at the Grammy Awards step back an put a couple of CD’s and get the guests dancing? NEVER!
The Coordinator or a Close Family Member as the MC
There is definitely nothing wrong with asking either of these two to perform the MC duties of an event. Especially if either one of them, a close relative or your wedding coordinator, are used to public speaking. A family member will do a much better job than anyone simple because he will know the names of the special guests at the event. He will have no trouble pronouncing any of the family names and he will feel that more at ease, since he is surrounded by loved ones. Now that doesn’t mean that anyone else can do a good job, but he is in a better position to do so.
So what if you want Uncle Joe to do it because he has such a great voice and great personality and he has no Mic Experience?
That should not stop you from asking him. Here are a few guidelines that Uncle Joe can follow to be an outstanding Master of Ceremonies.
Learn The Order of Events at the Wedding – Knowing the order of events will help you visualize how the event will run and the times that things need to happen. This will keep you alert and you will be ready at the time the toast will be, cake cutting, etc. Remember everything will happen when you, the MC says it will happen. You have that control of making things happen and you must make sure they flow smoothly.
Get all Names – of people whom you will introduce, the order that they will be introduced. A person’s name is his most prized possession. Before the date of the event the MC has to make sure that he knows exactly how to pronounce each persons’ name.
Practice the Pronunciation – of the names. The only way to get the names right is to find out how they are pronounced and to practice pronouncing the harder names. This should be done weeks before the event takes place, or as early as possible.
Visualize – how the event will run and look at the sequence, time gaps, positioning, timing, etc.. This is the most important step. To visualize the order of events, the correct time to pronounce the names, where you have to be so you can address the audience and still be able to see what’s happening and to make sure you don’t have your back to anyone. Visualization is very important. If you do a good job of visualizing everything, you will do a great job the day of the event. Just by visualizing how the day will run, you will eliminate approximately 80% of the errors that would occur that day.
Create Transitions – from one event to the other. For example if you are doing the toast, how will you get to that point? What will you say to position the bride, groom, best man, maid of honor, or anyone else that is doing a toast? Where are the Bride, Groom, Best Man, Maid of Honor? Remember, they don’t know where to go, the Master of Ceremonies will have to say it in a nice effective manner. Or you could look for them 15 mins before the toast and tell them in private, I think that’s more effective and it’s what I tend to do, that way when the time comes I just ask for everyone’s attention and introduce the first person doing the toast. Everything has a transition, a segue way, and it’s up to the MC to make it feel fluent.
Practice – Practice, practice, practice. Don’t memorize anything but a few jokes, a few punchlines or maybe a few words. You practice your introductions, your segue ways, your microphone technique, and if possible your microphone tonality. If you know anyone with a microphone and a PA, ask them to borrow it so you can feel comfortable grabbing a microphone and listening to your voice over a PA.
These are just guidelines, and will help anyone that wants to be an MC to get a head start.
There is one book that I read and would recommend to you, It’s easy to read and understand and the information in that book will give you all the tools you need to perform a toast or perform the role of the MC. Click on the link below to visit the book’s site and find out more information.
If this helps let me know by submitting a comment below.
Francisco H. Perez
You Professional Bilingual DJ in Houston