Imagine a big corporate event with top company officials, businesspersons and politicians having a master or mistress of ceremony (MC) who keeps on forgetting the business agenda or fumbles through the names of notables.
Or imagine, if you will, an emcee who is hosting an international music festival that has attracted people from across the world but addresses the audience in Chitonga or Chichewa and fails to recognise some of the sponsors of the event?
For rookies, such a nightmare is real; those steeped in the art of ‘emceeing’ hardly face such troubles.
The art of emceeing is one of the talents many people are fast catching on to. Both the entertainment and corporate worlds seek the services of the MCs to host their events.
From music festivals, live music shows and album launches to engagements, weddings and church functions, no event is complete without an MC to direct proceedings and entertain patrons. Companies and organisations also hire them to host particular corporate events.
Most MCs have cut their teeth in the entertainment industry. The majority of notable MCs are club and radio DJs and others who hire out disco equipment.
Some of the prominent faces that are regularly spotted emceeing events in the country especially music shows and corporate events include Radio 2 FM’s Raymond Sekeni, Deus Sandram of MIJ FM, Aubrey Kusakala and George Misinde, Kelvin Shema from Lilongwe and Calvary Family Church’s (CFC) radio Kingsley Walowa.
Mercy Simbi, Mphatso ‘Junior C’ Chaluluka and Promise Matatiyo are other talented MCs that have handled a number of events for both corporate and entertainment industries.
Seasoned MCs caution that not everyone can become an MC because it requires special skills. This particularly explains why most emceeing jobs are done by radio or TV presenters with a background of communication studies such as journalism.
“Emceeing is an art that requires special skills such as public speaking for one to engage the audience effectively. Those who have passion of interacting and keeping company with different people may also execute the task of emceeing competently,” said Goodluck Mtambo, who has been an MC for about 20 years.
There have been instances where some emcees find themselves in awkward positions when given a chance to host an event. While some have approached the event or audience lightly, others have fumbled for words, humiliating themselves in front of people. Some MCs reportedly take alcohol to remove fear or nervousness. In the end, they spoil otherwise good events and ruin the potential partnerships with clients.
Sandram outlined key skills such as a sense of humour, the art of public speaking, ability to easily develop rapport and courage as crucial to being an effective MC.
“Humour and courage to host an event and approach a particular audience are key skills that an MC can possess. Knowing the subject matter and the kind of audience you are dealing with also helps one to communicate effectively because as an MC you don’t just wake up in the morning and rush to a venue of an event without preparation. Researching about the people you are going to talk to is important because it helps you to know the right buttons to press during an event,” said Sandram.
Kusakala said an MC should always be mission-driven to achieve results of particular event, saying knowing the purpose of an event is the heart of the emceeing.
Kusakala said: “Just like any other task, MCs should embrace purpose for their cause. With that in mind work can be achieved easily. An MC should also have a pleasant personally which can easily connect with a particular audience because first impression matters in emceeing.”