We all attend banquets, luncheons, and other public speaking events for a variety of reasons. Some are great, some are far from it. We all have busy schedules and we usually have better things to do than to sit through a boring, long-winded speaker in a program that is poorly executed and unprofessional. Whether we are participating in the program as a speaker, being recognized for something, or part of the audience, paying for the meal ticket to help promote the cause or organization, we want to feel that our time was well spent, rather than wish we had made an excuse not to be there.
So, what separates the "ho-hums" from the "hurrahs"? What makes an event that is well-executed, professional, and energized? Two very important elements: a well thought-out and professionally-planned program and an experienced Master/Mistress of Ceremonies (Emcee).
A well thought-out and professionally-planned program
A good agenda takes into consideration the length and timing of the entire program. A well-planned agenda strategically places the sequence of the speakers for maximum effect and allocates the speaking times accordingly, while tightly weaving the entire program with lectern protocol and choreography of program participants. A good agenda considers the purpose, credibility, and reputation of speakers, as well as the purpose, goal, and direction of the program, so that the audience leaves the event feeling the purpose for attending was satisfied and the time was well spent.
An experienced Master/Mistress of Ceremonies
An experienced Emcee can enhance any program by keeping the various elements of the program in check and flowing smoothly by monitoring:
- Program length - The Emcee is the timekeeper making sure the program stays on schedule.
- Program execution - An Emcee, experienced in elocution and articulation, can make a program flow smoothly, seemingly without effort and without embarrassing delays or confusion as to what comes next, or worse, who comes next in the program.
- Perceived professionalism - A program poorly executed is not only a direct reflection on the Chair of the event and the event committee, but may also impact the audience's perception of the sponsor in terms of professionalism and credibility. A less than professional program could damage a sponsor's image rather than enhance it.
- Audience mood - Irrespective of the type of event, the audience expects to be entertained by a well-executed, professional program that fulfills the purpose for which they attended. An experienced Emcee adds color and vitality, holding the audience's attention and managing the mood so that attendees have an enjoyable experience and a sense of satisfaction.
- Program pace - A program that drags on endlessly, is filled with empty pockets of silence or features self-centered, rambling speakers can be disastrous. A reputation of poorly executed, boring, or waste of time programs gets around in the community. For annual events, this may result in poor attendance and support for the event. A good Emcee monitors the pace of the program to avoid slow periods, maintain energy, and keep the audience from wanting to slip out the door during a strategic pause.
The importance of these very basic and crucial elements of any public speaking event are often overlooked. The results are manifested in the quality of the program. Can your event afford to be less than energetic, well-executed and professional? Is your event worth the effort to attend? Your credibility and professional image, or that of your client or organization, may be on the line.
Irene P. Zucker
VerbaCom® Executive Development