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Before Your Sets

Who you immediately follow as the event emcee

Often as the host you are going on stage first, but many times you are not. There is someone from the organization or company who is saying a few words, or introducing you. This can be a mixed bag – you don’t often know what that person is going to say, and what their tone is going to be. As the MC, your job is to set the tone, or sometimes reset it.

The event may not be a somber one, but sometimes something somber is said in front of one of your hosting sets. You will have to re-position things, or think on the fly. What you originally planned may have to change. But that’s hosting in a nutshell ­– being flexible, improvisational, always adapting.

As an MC, you may be ready to walk onstage, only to find you are waiting in the wings and the speaker or presenter before you is on for several minutes. If they have not planned what they are saying, they often go on for much longer than they realize.

This often pushes the event schedule behind, and one of your duties as the MC is to keep everything on a tight schedule. You may have to cut some of what you prepared. Depending on who it is, the audience may be extra attentive when you hit the stage. If it’s the CEO or president of the company, you are getting a crowd that has now completely been tuned in. That often works in your favor as the MC as you do not have to get them to re-focus.

Your intro to the stage as an event emcee

It may seem redundant but as the MC, someone often introduces you at beginning of the day, or night. This may be a senior member of the organization, or company, who hired you to host.

You have to decide how much you want to micromanage every element of your hosting, of your work essentially. Usually, the longer you work as an emcee, the more influence you want to give. So if you leave your intro up to whomever is bringing you to the stage, they will often say whatever pops in their head, or whatever they remember about you.

It’s up to you how much that bothers you, or interests you, to control that. You often want the audience to know ahead of time who you are, why you’re there, and maybe a couple of credits that you have. Writing it down for the person introducing you is usually your best bet, although if they read it on stage, usually that negates the purpose and power of an introduction.

It’s best to write it verbatim, but make it so brief that the person is not inclined to feel pressure to read it, or spend too much effort memorizing it. As the MC your job is to nail everyone’s intro, but it’s not their job to nail yours. So make it easy and practical for them, and ask them if they have any questions about it ahead of time.

Hotel life as an event emcee

Some people love hotel life, some detest it. Generally whatever gig you’re hosting will have you stay where the event is. That’s usually somewhere nice. It can still be much less convenient than being at home. Things as simple as buying water become tougher at a hotel. You need to be very hydrated as an MC and that usually means getting a gallon, or 12-pack of water just before or after you check-in to your room.

You may need to set multiple alarms depending on when your event is. The hotel alarm clock (if you can figure it out) is a good option in addition to your phone. Of course, all hotels have wake-up calls – some are automated, and some are phone calls from the front desk. Be forewarned: I have had many hotels not make the wake-up call. I would never rely on that.

You may need to wake yourself up even if you’re hosting in the evening, depending on what your travel was like. Hopefully, whoever is your contact person with the organization who hired you, knows they may have to call your hotel room, in addition to your cell phone, to reach you.

You often have to pack extra equipment when you travel, including an extra cell phone charger. Having one in your jacket pocket while you’re hosting can be invaluable, especially when your battery is getting drained very quickly if you’re constantly checking your phone while you’re off stage. Being an MC, you have to check your phone all the time, as it may be work related.

How early should you fly in and when should you leave

When you’re booked at an event to emcee it can be at varying times. There are events that are all day, beginning at 9 a.m., or just in the evening beginning at 6 p.m. or so. Usually you should fly in the day before even if you don’t hit the stage until 7 or 8 p.m.

I’ve had many flights delayed by two or three hours. That makes it dicey to get to the show on time even if it’s in the evening. And even if you do make it in time you’ll often miss a sound check (which is frequently not required) or anything else you may want to check out in the showroom.

As the MC, it may be important for you to look at the seating arrangement, and how the stage is arranged. You may have your own items you want placed on the stage that you want access to as you’re hosting.

The time you leave the day afterwards is obviously not nearly as important, but remember you may have a very late night. Your hosting duties may be over at 9 p.m. but there is often an after party you might want to attend. The MC doesn’t usually have to show up, but there may be food and entertainment there you want to enjoy.

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