The 8 biggest mistakes when booking an MC. [That you may not have thought of.]
1. Being fearful.
Luckily, most clients that I work with are excited by my ideas and can’t wait to get started.
The atmosphere is positive and encouraging and perfect for a master of ceremonies to get to work. However, occasionally you meet a client who is nervous and focused from the outset on ‘what could go wrong’. This is often rooted in a fear of failure in front of difficult bosses. Unfortunately, if you, the client, head into your first meeting with your MC with a negative attitude, it’s difficult for your MC to buy in to your vision. Plus the fear you’re feeling has a nasty habit of spreading, causing your MC to second guess themselves. You need to be on the same page, to clearly understand each other and quickly generate an environment of mutual trust. It’s ok to let your MC know the pressures you are under but assure them that you are positive, supportive and excited to move forward towards a successful event.
2. Only choosing the super, clinically organised Master of Ceremonies.
Organisation is very important. All good MCs will be organised. However, don’t book an inflexible MC. There’s a difference.
Look for flexibility. Look for creativity. Look for great ideas and a track record of success.
While I don’t like to criticise fellow MCs, ahem… don’t be sucked in by just the corporate speak and the perfectly starched white shirt and mirror finish patent leather shoes. The obsession with perfection and an almost OCD level of preparation can lead to a lack of flexibility and creativity.
I call an MC a ‘Momentum Controller’. Sometimes we need to improvise, pick up the smallest cue and use it to create a new energy and momentum into a new moment. Other times we need to unexpectedly and quickly calm things down.
Do you know why so many of the world’s most exciting and creative people have ADHD? Because their brain fires off in unpredictable and exciting directions coming up with a regular stream of original, creative ideas.
Richard Branson, Jim Carrey, Bill Gates, Johnny Depp and Justin Timberlake are great examples.
Company directors and managers book MCs to run their event and make it exciting and memorable. They don’t want a clone of themselves, otherwise they would MC the event. They want a Master of Ceremonies who will generate to new ideas that will engage and challenge their staff and guests. They might also appreciate some comedy, an art form that relies on the element of surprise. If your MC is super organised and planned to the point of being inflexible then I suggest you may be in trouble. As soon as the unexpected occurs, they may be least likely to improvise a smooth solution on the fly, whereas the more creative, potentially neurodiverse, professional will likely have multiple solutions ready to go. I’m not saying book a psycho! LOL. Just take the time to appreciate a creative when you meet one and don’t block, let the ideas flow!
3. Expecting a great result with no input from your side.
You and your MC will need to work together prior to the event to get the best results. A great Master of Ceremonies will try to connect with your audience. This may require information on the guests or your company. Your MC may wish to present an interactive comedy or musical icebreaker or energiser segment that will highlight the various characters in the room. For this to work, they will need your help. Providing the information back to your MC in the right format and in a timely manner is vital to the success of your event.
4. Not asking your MC for creative input.
Your professional Master of Ceremonies is a wealth of great ideas and resources. You may have run this event in the same way for 20 years but listen to your MC’s ideas.
You hopefully booked an expert so in your first meeting, make sure to listen to your MC as they may have some incredible ideas that could transform your night!
5. Creating a run sheet with no room for unexpected magic!
What happens if the night really goes off? Can your MC extend the fascinating interview with the unexpected international guest? What if the previously shy-as-a-kitten CEO suddenly wants to get up and sing a song with your MC? Have you got room to make that happen? Or have you scheduled too much in to the runsheet?
Plan to have breaks for guests to take in the last segment and just relax and talk. And if things are going so well that you need to use that break time, then you can!
6. Not fully briefing your MC.
There are different levels of briefing required for your MC.
If the MC is part of your organisation then the level of briefing required is usually less than if the MC is external to your organisation.
I work a lot internationally and find that in very formal Asian settings, for example in banking/ insurance/tech companies, I spend a lot of time establishing the hierarchies of staff. Introducing guests onto stage must be done in the order of merit and seniority. Likewise, winners must be thanked in a particular order and photos again must be taken in a particular way to honour guests in a given hierarchy. Business titles change each time a manager takes on a new role. These correct titles must be communicated and confirmed as part of the briefing.
A poorly briefed MC will look unprofessional when it’s often simply a lack of information and detailed briefing notes.
7. Incorrectly prioritising the cost of an MC.
Where is the cost of the MC on your list of priorities?
3. Hotel rooms for guests
4. Branding materials
5. AV hire
7. Table cloth hire
8. Live Band
10. Parking vouchers for guests
11. Video reels and editing
17. Master of Ceremonies
If used properly, an experienced Master of Ceremonies can provide enormous value to your event; not just intros and outros. On multi day events, your MC is the glue that binds the event together. They reinforce the themes of the event, can often provide a keynote (saving you money), create bespoke segments involving the guests or delegates, solve problems in the moment (missing speaker?) and even help sell tickets prior to the event. So remember to ask yourself ‘Where do they rank in my budget priorities?’ well before locking in the budget. Then get the best MC you can afford and watch them transform your event. (I have no vested interest here… ok, maybe I do… :)
Check out great general event budgeting tips here.
8. Don’t match your MC to your organisation. Match your MC to your aims and goals.
If you joke about just how annoyingly conservative and boring your company is then maybe don’t book a matching MC. (I’m picturing a sleek, highly professional but conservative MC.)
Likewise, if you are a fun, quirky company however, on this occasion you’re launching a sophisticated luxury product and joking around isn’t appropriate, perhaps steer clear of the club comic MC you had last year. Instead, ask yourself ‘What is our aim?’ ‘What do we want to achieve?’ If the answer is to ‘have fun, get to know each other and laugh a lot’ then that is a different MC from the one you book to achieve a tightly packed conference on a ‘better understanding of financial markets and risk compliance.’
Do your research and choose the MC who will best help you achieve your event’s goal even if it may differ from your company’s image.
(And of course if you would like me as your next event Master of Ceremonies, let’s do it! Click here to send me a message! Thanks Col )
PS: I love to create hilarious moments with your guests. Here's an article on how you can help me create it!