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Event Emcees: Key Duties for Success and What to Look for When Booking
Business Speakers, Host / Emcee, Keynote

Event Emcees: Key Duties for Success and What to Look for When Booking

What does an event emcee do to ensure success?

An event emcee, also known as a master of ceremonies, performs vital duties to ensure your event is a success. They serve as the face of the event for your attendees, setting the tone and establishing your event’s overall brand. In the process, they also provide important information to keep your conference or other event flowing smoothly.

Four key duties of a professional emcee are:

1. Opening ceremony and introductions

An emcee serves as the host of your event, engaging the audience while creating a warm and inclusive atmosphere. In welcoming guests and introducing your speakers, they create a positive first impression to help establish a lasting connection with attendees.

2. Providing house rules and other information

The emcee shares important information such as event details, the agenda and speaker bios. They also provide important logistical information that may include lunch schedules, breakout session plans, emergency exit information and more.

3. Managing the program

Professional emcees act as a timekeeper to ensure that the event proceeds as planned. They coordinate with various participants, making announcements and smoothly transitioning between speakers, breakout sessions and other scheduled proceedings.

4. Engaging the audience

Professional emcees add humor as well as providing relevant stories to keep your audience “warmed up” and engaged between segments and throughout your event. They may encourage participation by initiating audience interaction such as Q&A sessions, polling through applause or mobile devices and leading fun games to keep attendees attentive and entertained.

Can my emcee serve as a keynote speaker?

Yes, event emcees may also serve as your keynote speaker. As master storytellers and engagement specialists, both event emcees and keynote speakers play a key function in setting your event’s tone, making the two duties an ideal combination. Author, keynote speaker and storytelling expert Kindra Hall served this dual role for Direct Selling University in Frisco, Texas, with great success.

What should I look for when booking an event emcee?

Finding the best emcee for your event requires carefully considering many factors. Subject matter expertise, booking fees and scheduling are all considerations you must weigh carefully. More broadly, however, you want an emcee who engages, entertains and memorably impacts your audience. 

Most importantly, your emcee is the face of your event. They are the person who your audience will see and hear most. As such, you need a true professional. Let’s look at three traits to consider when booking your event emcee:

1. Universal appeal

Even if your event focuses on a specific field such as real estate, attendees may still represent a wide cross-section of professionals: rural and urban, IT and marketing, executive leadership and middle management, for example. Attendees embody a diverse spectrum of specialties, backgrounds and experiences. Therefore, you want an emcee with a broadly universal appeal.

Top emcees such as Mel Robbins provide a dynamic, customizable message of confidence, courage and personal growth that transcends specific industries and career paths. Whether you work in accounting or marketing, top event emcees connect with audiences big and small, conveying their message at a universal level that engages and excites audiences throughout the event.

Look for speakers who are popular authors, appear in popular legacy media or who engage large numbers of followers online.

2. Motivational subject matter expertise

Some event managers may see nuts-and-bolts subject matter expertise at odds with a broader motivational message. For less experienced emcees, this may even be true. But emcees with speaking experience and a strong leadership background expertly blend deep knowledge with an inspirational message that reaches every attendee.

Top speakers and emcees like Simon T. Bailey can both answer the difficult questions while delivering a deeply motivational message. With more than 30 years of experience in hospitality, Bailey and top speakers like him know the ins and outs of their industries. But that expertise also provides the skills needed to effectively communicate with people of diverse personal and professional backgrounds.

Look for emcees who have strong leadership experience that requires motivating and engaging not just corporate teams and divisions, but entire institutional systems.

3. Master storyteller

The best emcees are also master storytellers. Skilled storytelling turns a dry lecture into stories that resonate. One key ingredient is having a story to tell, something that requires lived experience and expertise. But storytelling is an artform, too. It allows people to turn complex ideas into simple, understandable narratives. It also necessitates excellent communication skills and high emotional intelligence in order to engage audiences. 

The best event emcees perform with captivating body language, intonations and narrative rhythms to accent and punctuate their stories. Jimmy Hays, aka Coach Jimmy, exemplifies the best ingredients of powerful storytelling. Whether acting as an emcee, keynote speaker or business coach, Hays draws his own expertise in training others to tell their own stories. As Hays says, “Tell a story, change the world.”

Look for event emcees with masterful storytelling skills and an authentic speaking style by sampling their TED speeches or speaking reels.

Book your next event emcee with confidence.

You can now book your next event emcee with confidence. Simply contact the SUCCESS Speakers Bureau with your event needs. At SUCCESS, we will put our century of experience in professional relationship-building to work for you. We will help match you with a top emcee who has the skills, personality and professional experience you need. Plus, we will handle fee negotiations, booking and other logistics to make your job a breeze.

You can also browse our extensive library of professional keynote speakers, executive coaches and event emcees. There, you will find top speakers such as Anne Grady, Daymond John, Erin King and many more, each with a biography and other professional information.