We speak with event managers holding a wide range of events across numerous industries, some corporate and some ticketed. One thing they all need is someone to start off the event, link the various parts together, maintain audience engagement and take control if something goes wrong. That person is the Master of Ceremonies.
In this article I’m going to answer some of the common questions I’m asked about the role of master of ceremonies and how to hire one who is most suitable for your event.
What is the Role of Master of Ceremonies?
Also commonly referred to as an MC (or an emcee), the role of the master of ceremonies are somewhat obvious. They need to welcome your audience when your event starts, introduce speakers and politely wrap up and farewell the audience at the end. But in practice, this involves a great deal more than that, including being comfortable to handle impromptu moments to ensure your corporate event runs smoothly.
Clients often tell me that they felt their master of ceremonies did the job of two, even three people. The initial welcoming of guests can often feel like a mini keynote presentation or stand-up comedy skit. A professional MC will make guests feel welcome, capture their interest and provide thought provoking commentary and important information.
There is also an element of event management, with the master of ceremonies informing the guest of useful information at the start of the event including the schedule and other crucial information where the bathroom and exits – and most importantly – where the bar is!
Most importantly, they can think on their feet when things don’t go to plan! Let’s say one of your speakers doesn’t appear when they’re called up on stage. A great master of ceremonies will keep calm and improvise, keeping your event on track. They can think on their feet and their ability to hold the attention of the audience is crucial to the success of your event.
Do I Need a Professional Master of Ceremonies?
There are certain events where a professional master of ceremonies is crucial! Failing to factor this into your event plans would create confusion, with no one to steer the evening and ultimately leave your guests feeling disappointed.
These events are held to not only reward award recipients, but also a greater number of employees or organisation members for their efforts during the previous financial or calendar year. They can lift the morale of dissatisfied employees and maintain morale and reputation in highly successful organisations.
Awards nights have the capacity to feel boring when awards and thank-you speeches are performed continuously. An expert MC can sense audience when an audience is losing interest and provide well timed humour and anecdotes.
Some organisations may also invite external key stakeholders so there is pressure to showcase yourself as professional, generous and someone they would wish to remain associated with.
Large corporations will hold scheduled conferences to report on their business results and inform employees about their future plans. A good MC will use the short breaks between speakers to provide light entertainment and keep the audience engaged for the dryer speaker topics. You may wish to seek a master of ceremonies with motivational speaker qualities and can keep your team hungry for greater achievements.
Industry organisations will organise high quality conferences with interesting speakers and engaging master of ceremonies (or corporate MC) as a way of retaining and growing their members and developing an active community within their industry. You may be able to seek a professional master of ceremonies who has expertise in your industry, or a valuable skill such as change management or sales expertise.
Product launches are all about using that five minutes when everyone is looking at you, to do something impressive and memorable. We recommend selecting a master of ceremonies who reflects your product and brand values and resonates well with your target audience.
You may be seeking to reward employees for their performance during the year, seeking to impress and develop relationships with valuable clients. These events can include Christmas parties, end-of-financial-year celebration, or held in conjunction with sporting events such as Formula One or Melbourne Cup. Master of ceremonies are often selected for these events who can entertain and provide laughter without conflicting with your corporate values.
Charities often go to great lengths to host stunning gala dinners and events to raise funds from philanthropists and other high net worth individuals. A highly entertaining, often celebrity, master of ceremonies and a classy, formal venue are necessary to attract the right audience.
The master of ceremonies will host fundraising activities such as auctions and will use their wit and charisma to make the guests feel cheerful, entertained and generous with their wallets.
How Much Do Master of Ceremonies Charge?
The ‘going rate’ for a master of ceremonies differs greatly depending on availability. reputation, celebrity and demand. The short answer is that it’s often up to the individual MC, and they may factor in their schedule and interest in your event.
This isn’t like most forms of business where there are numerous brands vying for your business. These people are highly successful and often have a celebrity status. It’s likely that there are constant requests for their services, enabling them to be selective.
It’s important to remember that many of these people are not solely employed as an MC. A professional master of ceremonies with years of experience is likely to have their time occupied with business commitments and other commitments such as charity, media, sporting and/or family, and may travel regularly as part of this.
Your master of ceremonies rate may be as little as $5000, and as much as $50,000. This won’t include travel and accomodation costs which are also funded by the client. Be prepared to pay for costs such as airfares, taxis and a hotel room if your ideal master of ceremonies resides from interstate.
How to Ask Someone to be your Master of Ceremonies
It can be difficult to ask someone to be your master of ceremonies due to the inability to access their contact details. It’s unlikely that their direct phone number is publicly available. Their emails and social media accounts are likely to receive hundreds of messages each day and may be managed by an assistant. Personal assistants and managers act as gatekeepers, protecting their client from anything that could waste their valuable time.
The most effective way to ask someone to be your master of ceremonies is to contact the speakers bureau who represents them. The speakers bureau can jump over any barriers as they already have a relationship with the master of ceremonies and their key personnel.
The speakers bureau does more than make an enquiry, they will also:
- Discuss your needs and inform you if the master of ceremonies your interested in is suitable for your event
- Negotiate a price to fit your budget
- Manage the MC’s travel arrangements
- Ensure the MC is briefed and aware of their requirements and running order of the event
To make the process more efficient it’s important to have a budget in mind and communicate this with the speakers bureau. They can save your time by guiding you to speakers within your budget.
In the event that your chosen master of ceremonies is unavailable, the speakers bureau will be able to draw on their experience in helping similar clients and help you find another suitable MC.
How to Introduce a Master of Ceremonies
When introducing the master of ceremonies, you should think about it as reciting the key points of their autobiography. Explain why they were selected, what relevance they have to your audience and why they are lucky to have them hosting the event.
To create a bit of buzz and increase event attendance, it’s a good idea to announce your master of ceremonies choice ahead of the event. Don’t be afraid to use this as a selling point!
Most Popular Master of Ceremonies Include
Hamish is one of our most recognisable and in-demand master of ceremonies. AFL fans will be accustomed to his smooth professional calling of football matches and his witty, entertaining interviews. He is a likable gentleman who is versatile, adaptive and can engage a broad range of audiences.
“Hamish was extremely charismatic and a great host for a relaxed, upbeat event. Great at engaging with the crowd and was certainly professional when the situation called for it. He seemed to genuinely care about the success of the night and was keen to be across the details he needed to be. Overall, very happy with Hamish’s efforts, and would love to work with him for future events…”
Beverley O’Connor is a highly regarded journalist and broadcaster on the ABC, who specialises in politics and economics. She presents with warmth and energy, and is a great choice for a professional and discerning audience. She is an inspirational female who became the first ever female director at the Melbourne Demons AFL club and is also an avid campaigner for the BCNA, promoting breast cancer awareness.
Tim ‘Rosso’ Ross
Tim Ross is a man who wears many hats. He became well known as a comedian from his work on TV and radio, as part of the ‘Merrick and Ross’ duo. In recent years Tim has used his presenting skills to branch out into his other passion, architecture. He has performed stage shows, television shows and written books in this area and curated his own exhibition.
Tim’s dry wit and humour makes him a popular choice as a master of ceremonies across wide range of topics, including architecture, design, planning and Australian social history. Like all good comedians he is highly adaptive in any situation and can connect with your audience and entertain.
If your main goal is to provide pure entertainment for your audience, Adam Zwar is your man. Adam is an accomplished actor, voice artist, comedian and writer, who will leave your audience in stitches. He is best known for his work co-creating the hit shows Wilfred and Lowdown, and for his earlier work in classic Australian drama such as Underbelly, Stingers, Blue Heelers and Sea Change. We often recommend Adam to clients who are seeking someone witty, but won’t overstep the line and leave you red faced.
If these four master of ceremonies don’t suit your audience, take a look at our complete list of master of ceremonies – there’s about 300 to choose from (and the list is still growing).
If you’re still unsure, contact us and we would be happy to guide you some recommendations. Directors Justin McNeany and Leanne Lamb have over twenty years’ experience in connecting event managers with the most suitable master of ceremonies.