What does an MC REALLY do anyway?
First, let’s look at the title itself.
Master of Ceremonies. The title indicates that the person is in charge of ceremonial proceedings and has achieved a level of mastery in this field. A Master is a “manager” and a Ceremony is an event, so stripped down, an MC is an Event Manager.
Sadly, too many couples do not choose someone who has mastered the skill-set required to be a suitable MC.
Whilst a family member of friend or venue manager could perform the role, they will be very unlikely to fulfil it to a level to provide the best possible outcome. In fact, it could very likely go very pear shaped.
So what are the skills required?
Here is what a Master of Ceremonies is responsible for broken down.
1. EVENT MANAGEMENT
A master of ceremonies should have a good knowledge and background in event management.
Event management does not mean just running to a run sheet, it is a true master that handles every element possible to ensure the event runs smoothly for the couples (the hosts), their guests and any other stake holders such as suppliers.
This is a very big part of the duties of a true professional MC.
Before the day, they will help the couple to plan the run sheet and suggest alterations where appropriate.
They will work with the food and beverage manager to liaise and ensure everything is running smoothly there and on time.
They will work with the entertainer to ensure the music is ready at the key times.
They will ensure the lighting is suitable and adjust if necessary.
They will assess the temperature of the room and adjust if it feels too hot or too cold.
The room layout will be discussed before the day to check that it is set out for the best experience possible.
A master of ceremonies should be an excellent communicator. Not just orally, but in written form as well. They should know how to write a suitable script for various times of the event that will clearly deliver the message.
They will assess the suitability of the message for all demographics of the guests to ensure that they are being understood. For example, a young MC that speaks a lot of lingo that only younger people would understand would confuse the older guests.
They should be very clear and well spoken. This is essential. There is no point having a master of ceremonies that mumbles, speaks too quickly or too quietly. They should have had extensive experience using various styles of microphones including handheld and lectern. Poor use of a microphone leads to distortion and clipping which is not only unpleasant, it can damage audio equipment.
They should aim to deliver succinct messages that get the point across in an easy to understand manner without unnecessary waffling where the point of the message gets lost or muddied in with the rest.
3. RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT
A master of ceremonies is the glue that brings all the elements and people together. From the wedding couple, the guests and the vendors. They are the masters of maintaining positive relationships between all stake holders at the event.
They are the ones responsible for ensuring that all suppliers are on the same page and have the best interest of the wedding couple in mind. For example, I had to be the mediator between a photographer and videographer who were NOT getting along. In fact, they tried to sabotage each others work by standing in each others shots (whilst trying to make it look accidental). I took both of them quietly aside and told them to put aside their differences and remember it is about the couple and not themselves.
It’s also often less extreme and more simply about ensuring the right people are going to be in the right place at the right time. For example, before the cake cutting is done, checking that the photographer is in the room and ready to go, the DJ has the right song and of course the couple themselves are ready before announcing it.
4. RISK MANAGEMENT
The MC should be watching for any potential risks (tangible or intangible) that may occur. Tangible risks might include cables the DJ has run without being taped down which would cause a trip hazard. Intangible risks could be the timing of the dessert being served will impact on the dance floor experience so should be changed to another time.
5. TIME MANAGEMENT
Time management is critical to ensuring the night runs smoothly. Too often inexperienced MCs allow time to pass little by little which by the end of the night accumulates to a serious impact on the end of the night proceedings. 5 minutes late here and 10 minutes late there all add up to being very costly to what was supposed to happen during the last hour that was planned for the night.
A professional MC friend of mine, Simon McCuskey from Melbourne has put it in very interesting light. He broke down his role as an MC as the requirements for a job description which really makes you realise just how much an MC actually is responsible for. The above 5 points were based on his “job description” idea.
He also made a great analogy for why a couple could hire a professional MC over a family member, friend, DJ or venue manager. It is similar to purchasing insurance. Sure, it will cost you more, but if you only have compulsory third party insurance, you will be left to accept the consequences of the damage that may occur. If you get comprehensive insurance, you will sleep better knowing you are covered. It’s like going on a holiday. Travel insurance covers the risks in advance and allows you to enjoy your experience. The same applies to events.
We hope this article has been of help to you in making the decision between hiring a professional MC and having someone else fill this role. So now, hopefully you won’t any longer wonder … “What does an MC really do anyway?”