Another Secret in the Master of Ceremonies Toolkit.
The element of surprise is a great tool the working Event Host or MC can use at any moment in an assignment. It really helps your audience stay focussed and to keep the energy high.
This is especially true with longer assignments, where the audience can start to get complacent about what the Event Host is doing or saying. Once their attention starts to slip, it’s great to be able to surprise them.
Here is a collection of proven techniques that you can use to add the element of surprise to your work as an Event Host.
Don’t wear the same thing all day!
Change your Jacket or Tie. Perhaps wear a hat at some point if appropriate.
Or expand that idea and wear a Costume!
I have an MC friend who has a 1930’s Golfing outfit that he often wears on the second day of a conference, especially if he is at a conference centre on a golf course.
Another busy MC here in Australia, known as The Doctor, has a huge selection of bright outfits to surprise his regular clients and a trademark hat and stethoscope to help with his branding.
One of my regular clients took me to Hawaii for an event where I surprised them with a Zoot Suit on the night out on the Battleship Missouri and a Gangster outfit on an another night. (Here I am at the famous Royal Hawaiian.)
One tip however if you do intend to wear a costume is this. If possible establish yourself as the MC first. Wear appropriate clothing for the first day or first segment, then change. This seems a better way to do it.
Change the Rhythm
After a few times introducing speakers or different acts change things up a bit!
Surprise them by coming out of the audience rather than from
the side of stage.
Or use the “Voice of God” backstage announcement.
Or pre-rerecord a video announcement.
Add a Prop
At my last assignment the last speaker of a very long day was a Forensic Accountant. He knew he had a hard time slot. He walked out confidently with a shopping bag and opened with … “Most people think I mainly use this” pulling out a large calculator. “But actually my most useful tool is this .. “ pulling out and putting on a construction workers Hard Hat.
It got a laugh and certainly everyone’s attention. But it also reinforced one of the themes of his presentation, that he had to get “stuck in” at the company he was investigating and often getting his hands dirty.
Have a think how you can use a prop that “fits” the message or theme of the event or the topic of the next speaker.
Side Note – Did you also see how he used one of the Opening Words ideas we talk about in this article? Bang, straight into it, rather than waffling on about how great it was to be there etc. See the Patricia Fripp examples in that article.
More Props – I sometimes use a sequence of different bells
and hooters that become bigger and bigger. It’s a type of “running gag” more of which we will
Show off Your Skill
As you probably know I had a career as a Magician before becoming a full time MC. So I’m always ready to add some Magic if it helps the event. By this I mean I don’t do a full show, but will do short bits here and there if I need to fill in time or make a point.
I also can Juggle quite well, so that is also an option. What can you do?
Singing / Karaoke
The very accomplished Speaker and MC from the USA, Dan Thurmon, is a great gymnast. I’ve seen him do handsprings across the stage and if the lectern is a strong one, he will often do a handstand on it! How’s that for surprise! But once again, the skill each time serves to reinforce the message.
Other MC’s are ready with a song or to lead a session of Karaoke. It’s not to hard to have something set up with the AV people.
Funny Videos – You Tube
Another thing you can have set up with the AV Team are some
funny YouTube Videos. Just a few minutes worth. I’ve done this on a long day,
after lunch or after afternoon tea.
It’s even better if they relate somehow to the topic or theme of the event. E.G Teamwork, Focus, Preparation etc.
Hand Out on Table
I have a few boxes full of fun things I sometimes leave out on tables or on peoples seats. When they come back to the room after lunch they find the object. They start to expect something fun each time.
Fake Money, Funny Cards, Puzzles, Cartoons etc
If you have a copy of our best selling book The Expert MC Toolkit and Resource Manual (Details here) you will have plenty of extra things you can do.
Free Breakfast (page 9)
Seven Days (page 11)
Pig Test (page 13)
Powerpoint Slides / Parody Covers / News Headlines (page 20-21)
Instant Trivia (page 26)
Their name as an Acronym ( page 60)
You might also consider BWC , our Interactive routine. Sold as a separate PDF https://expertmc.com/bwc/
In Summary, the element of Surprise is a great tool for keeping peoples attention as you perform your role as Event Host. But it’s even more powerful when what you do relates to the theme of the event or the segment you are introducing.