Articles and Resources - Effective Presentations



How to MC an Event

You were asked to be the Master of Ceremonies (MC) of an event.  When you agreed to do it, it seemed like an easy task – all you need to do is to introduce a speaker or two, tell some good jokes and thank everyone for coming.  Piece of cake, right?   Not so fast … there are several considerations before you reach for the microphone.

These are some pointers to help you get started and perform without a hitch.

Start by doing some research:
-    What is the date, time and location?
-    What is the nature or theme of the event?  Ie: retirement, wedding, 25th anniversary celebration
-    Who will be in the audience?
-    Who will you introduce?
-    Are there any sensitive topics that you should avoid?
-    Will there be entertainment during the event?
-    Speak to the people who you will be working with and develop rapport.
-    When preparing the introduction of each speaker or act:
      o    Request a bio or backgrounder 
      o    Take the audience into his/her world
      o    Intrigue the audience by the speaker’s topic 
      o    Impress the audience with their accomplishments

You have done the research, now it is time to work on the flow.

-    Practice what you will be saying in advance of the event, but most importantly, practice the flow.
-    Write down what you will say and do.
-    Practice, practice and practice some more, including a walkthrough of the event Ie:  walk up to the podium, set your notes down,  look at the audience and count 1-2-3, introduce the first speaker, shake their hand (if appropriate), thank the speaker, and so forth.


-    Start by introducing yourself and how you fit in with the event.  Ie:  best man of the wedding party, manager of the employee who is retiring, or Chairperson of the conference
-    Give your opening remarks, provide some humor related to the event or a funny story and develop a connection with the audience.
-    Reference your notes and do not rely only on your memory.  The brain is a wonderful thing.  It starts to work the moment we are born and stops when we are in front of an audience! 
-    During each introduction, strive to make a connection with each speaker or act.
-    Lead the applause.
-    Shake their hand (if appropriate) and lead them to where they will be speaking.
-    If they are going overtime, spin your finger in the air as an indication to keep it moving.
-    Think about what you are going to say and do next.  Always plan the next step and what action you will be taking.  By knowing what each person or act will be doing, you will not be blindsided.
-    Keep the event flowing smoothly.
-    If something happens that was not in the plan – just go with the flow, maybe make a joke out of it and keep the agenda moving. 
-    Add practiced good natured humor and entertainment.

After the speaker(s) are finished
-    Lead the applause.
-    Thank them and present them with a gift (if appropriate).
-    Direct them in the general direction of the stage exit.

-    Wrap up the event by mentioning some of the highlights.
-    Thank the event organizers, volunteers and anyone else who was in attendance or took on a role.
-    Sit back, relax and reflect on what went well and how to strengthen the next one.

A few tips:

-    The MC is not the main act – but a conduit between the audience and main reason for the event.
-    The MC’s main role is to keep the flow of the meeting going smoothly and entertaining the audience.
-    Add some good-natured humor.  It is best if you are the subject of your own jokes – rather than someone else.
-    Only tell a joke if you would say it in Church to your Grandmother.
-    Start and end on time!
-    Dress appropriately for the event.  
-    Absolutely no alcoholic drinks. 
-    Have fun!



How to Prepare for a Presentation - The Quick & Easy Way

It seemed like a good idea at the time. You agreed to give a presentation. The day is fast approaching and now you are getting anxious. Now what? First, you must be comfortable with the subject, or have the time to carefully research the topic.

By answering these questions, you will be able to prepare a memorable presentation in a minimal amount of time.

  1. Purpose - What is the purpose of the presentation? Is it to give information, to be persuasive, to entertain or to share emotion? For example, if you are giving information, the objective would be to explain the features of the most recent insurance policy.
  2. Audience - Who is in your audience and how familiar are they with the topic? This will determine the breadth and depth of your communications strategy. If you are speaking to seasoned management professionals on how to use an electronic Travel form, they will only need to know the basics and changes to the form, while a summer student would need a detailed explanation of the features of the tool and how to navigate through it.
  3. Time - How much time do you have to deliver? The longer the time, the more details you will provide. The delivery time will determine the number of examples, stories and explanations that are given.
  4. Content - What are the main points that you will talk about? What does the audience need to know? What information do you need to give the audience in order to meet your objectives? We usually speak in groups of 3, 5 or 7 (depending on the time). What are the 3 most important ideas you need to get across? Now, how are you going to get your ideas across? Tell a story, draw a diagram, explain the contents of a form, refer to a picture, give a famous quote or analogy.
  5. Visual Aids - What visual aids will you use? For example, Power Point slides, handouts, flipchart, videos, or whiteboard. Visual aids are meant to enhance the presentation – not take over it. The speaker is the focus of the presentation. How and when will you use the visuals? Remember to mix it up and provide some variety ... within reason, of course. 
  6. Practice, practice, practice - How should you practice? Verbally provide your presentation to a co-worker, friend, or family member. This will make you more comfortable with the content and give you a good "feel" for the flow of the material. The tone should be conversational, as if you where having a talk across the coffee table. Be sure to time yourself and remember that the actual presentation will take less time, as we tend to speak more quickly when we are nervous.
  7. Humor - Do you need humor? Absolutely. All humor needs to tie into the material and to serve a purpose. A good rule of thumb is to only tell the jokes that you would say to your Grandmother in Church.

Benjamin Franklin said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." By using these quick and easy presentation ideas you will be prepared and ready to deliver an outstanding presentation to your audience.


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