Lighting for an Event Emcee
Often times when you’re hosting an event, they’ll use a spotlight. This can make it difficult to talk, to interact, with the audience. You can’t see them if the room is dark and the spotlight is right in your eyes.
You can often tell the tech people what kind of lighting you want in the room while you are on stage as the emcee. Remember they have hired you as the master of ceremonies, and will generally want to make it as easy as possible for you – you have to know what to ask for.
I’ve had times where the light did not reflect at the right angle to my notes on the podium and I could barely read them. That’s one of the many times as a host when you must improvise with whatever circumstance you’re given.
You may not be able to move much given the lighting. If you’re the type of host who likes to move around, this may affect you. Moving around can make you seem much more energetic and dynamic as the emcee. But if you’re out of the spotlight it will do you no good.
Sometimes the event has bright lights all over the room, the room is completely lit up like a cafeteria. You should avoid that if possible. It doesn’t create a professional event atmosphere. And if you have any jokes, it will be harder to get laughs. Crowds like anonymity and dim lighting helps provide that.
Seating When You’re a Host
Often times there’s no intimacy at a corporate event. The venue is huge and the seats are spread out. Sometimes there are giant round tables which makes it even worse – half the audience will essentially have their back to you.
Whenever you are the master of ceremonies you want to be able to connect as much as possible. Close seating, either theater style or a general semicircle is best. The front row can be as close as just a few feet away from the stage. If that row is more than ten feet or so away from the stage that is generally too far. The host should be able to see their faces and even talk to them depending on how good you are at improvising.
When the audience has tables, either round tables or rectangular tables, be prepared for them to be easily distracted. They will often have their phones on the table, lighting up all throughout the day/night.
It can be hard to focus when the crowd isn’t focused, but remember they have been there sometimes for many hours, or days. Often it is a work event for them and their work does not stop. They may feel pressure to reply to a text about their job, or a deadline. They may be reading material that was handed out earlier in the day, relevant to whatever conference they’re at.
As a master of ceremonies it’s your job to deliver whether a thousand people are listening to you, or three.
Will an Event Emcee Ever Get Heckled?
Any performer, speaker, or host can get heckled at any time. For some, it’s the worst part of being on stage. It shouldn’t bother a seasoned MC, even though it can be annoying and disruptive. Many times, even at corporate events, there can be heavy drinking. Alcohol makes it more likely to get heckled or interrupted. Every MC should be prepared for it. If it’s someone with power at the function, often times people are hesitant to quiet that person down. The hierarchy makes them fearful. Even co-workers of equal power don’t like to get involved in controlling their disruptive peers.
You can outwit them from the stage as the host, but if they are drunk, and if many other audience members are drunk, outwitting them may fall on deaf ears.
Just plowing ahead is sometimes your best option. Heckling, like silence, shouldn’t bother a seasoned host. Generally corporate crowds are far more subdued than a comedy club audience. Heckling is less likely, the trade-off is that laughs are harder to come by. Sometimes you’re trying to make people laugh in a conference room at 12 noon. That’s not the ideal environment where joked will flourish. But if you’re a seasoned corporate MC, you’ll have material that is right for even that setting.
An MC has to assume control and authority no matter what the circumstance, setting, tone, or obstacle thrown at him. It’s like any job – the more experienced you are, the more times you have already encountered every surprise situation.
International Audiences at a Corporate Event
You may host an event that has a heavy mix of international audience members. If you have jokes, obviously most of your references to known cities and brands may be lost on them. An MC should never get self-conscious about this. Sometimes there is no way to write material that everyone can get. Jokes may not be right for this situation, or you may just have to write stuff that is more universal.
A host communicating with his face and body, which is something everyone does whether they realize it or not, becomes more important when there may be a language barrier. Some of the best times I’ve had as a host have been when people from different European, or South American, or Asian countries come up to me afterward and tell me they enjoyed, and were surprised, that I included something specific about their home country.
Sometimes the location altogether is in a different country, and it is up to you to figure out what tone you are going to set as the master of ceremonies, and what local references, if any, you are going to include.
A flight to Europe or Asia can be a taxing fourteen to twenty-four hour travel day. That travel can be put to good use with extra writing and preparation on the plane, or at the airport. To me, those are the most exciting times, when you get to perform in an entirely new environment, and challenge yourself in a new way.