The Master of Ceremonies
By Van der Spuy Brink and Marianne Theunissen

The Master of Ceremonies (MC) fulfils a critical role at the reception.  A good MC will leave the guests and the happy couple with memories to cherish forever.  However, a lack of planning and off-colour jokes by the MC can leave the audience bored or offended.

Everyone has the potential to be a brilliant MC, but doing it in a memorable and exceptional manner requires hard work and special knowledge.  Here are some of the things you need to know and keep in mind if you want to be an exceptional MC:

You need to know that this is not your show.  Your role is supportive.  Focus on the bride, her parents and all the guests.  Plan as though everything that goes wrong is your fault. Prepare for it, and know that 80% of the success of the event depends not on good food and a great venue.  It depends on you.  The MC should be involved in the planning from the very beginning, understand what it is all about and befriend all the role players.

A vital function of the MC is responsibility for the safety of the guests and to warn them against any dangerous objects or slippery slopes.  This is a legal requirement and the MC can be criminally charged failing to do so.

When addressing the guests, you need to know that humour is not a joke.  At its funniest, it is a different way of looking at life. To prepare humour that is worth listening to, you will need to use your observation skills to look at the oddities of life.  It is a good rule of thumb to poke fun at one person and one person only, and that is yourself.

You should carefully inform the proposers of toasts about what is expected of them.  A toast should be shorter than four minutes, touch the heart, and bring a smile with a tear.  Metaphors can be used liberally: “My friend Tom is like a fine red wine, he improves with age, and is most enjoyable in company…”

The best man and his cohorts provide a special flavour to the event, yet many receptions have been soured by sleazy jokes or antics that go too far. Help them to stay within the limits of good behaviour.

Prepare for the event minute-by-minute, liasing with all the role players.  If there is a coordinator, work with them closely.  Prepare and be ready for any eventuality - thunderstorms, electricity outages, or people falling ill.

When a group of strangers meet, they will always go through five phases of behaviour:  Uncertainty, Irritation, At Ease, Exuberance and Sadness.  Your task is to move the guests to the exuberant state as quickly as possible.  You can do this very effectively, using facilitation and meaningful engagement. This will leave a much more memorable impact than relying on cheap jokes or alcohol.

Understanding people’s needs and doing / saying the right things at the right moment is the key to success. It is human nature to need safety, a feeling of belonging to a group, a good self-esteem, self-actualization, information, order and beauty, transcendence, sympathy, spirituality, achievement and pride, anger and revenge, competition, adventure and danger, fear and resolve, humor and play.  Keep this in mind as you go about planning and a great reception is guaranteed.

Prepare an introduction to each person who will participate.  Keep it personal, meaningful, and within one minute. Highlight the special reason this person fulfills a role in the proceedings.

Danger lurks in the form of participants who attempt to hijack the event.  Look out for Toast proposers who drone on for ages.  Give them an indication when they exceed the four-minute mark, and when they get to five minutes start making threatening gestures to cut the microphone!  Interrupt dirty jokes as quickly as you can, even if it means cutting the sound.

Photographers could hamper the atmosphere of the wedding by attending messily dressed, disrupting holy moments in the ceremony or not returning with the bridal couple in good time because… “just look at the light!..” Prepare them in clear terms to capture the highlights of the special day by explaining what their role is and what not.

Being an MC is about making dreams come true. It may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, grab it and gain a new life skill.

Make a Free Website with Yola.