Back in the days, anyone with a clear voice would be given a microphone and direct proceedings at an event. It did not matter whether the person was a gifted public speaker or had the ability to connect with people.
Recently, directing events has undergone a huge transformation. A person charged to do it is called a master or director of ceremonies shortened to MC. It is no longer a matter of holding the microphone, speaking through it and making announcements. It is an art.
But is it really an art?
“There is a lot that goes into being an MC.
It’s not just a matter of being talkative and then you feel like you can be an
MC,” says Chisomo Mwamadi, a top MC
for both corporate events and weddings.
“There are so many elements that you have to look at. First of all, you have to be a good public speaker,” he adds.
Before Mwamadi started directing ceremonies back in 2012, he first had to understand the art.
“I took my time to study what being an MC is all about. I discovered that an MC has the responsibility to set the tone of the event, meaning he or she must use his/her art to determine how the whole event will flow,” he said.
Apart from that, Mwamadi says it is important to master the art of analysing one’s audience quickly.
“As an MC, one must be sure of what they are saying, how they say it and if what they are saying is relevant and acceptable to the audience they are directing. Even the jokes one throws around depend on the audience,” he explained.
Mwamadi said an MC has the responsibility to direct the event, link activities so that they move seamlessly as the programme demands while bringing positive energy.
Isaac Chizaka, who has directed events since 2007, agrees with Mwamadi.
“A good MC is someone who knows what he is doing without being driven by the audience. You should also listen to other people’s views, especially organisers of the event. An MC must also look sharp for the event,” he said.
Chizaka, who trades as MC Mpombe, said his secret lies in understanding his audience before he opens his mouth.
He says: “If you know your audience, it helps to know what jokes to crack to make people happy.”
Both Chizaka and Mwamadi pointed out that time management is also crucial in the art of directing ceremonies.
“My art lies in time management,” says Mwamadi. “I make sure that I stick to the programme. I also try to be creative, say in case there is power outage. I just try to fill the gaps so that people do not get bored and leave early.”
Influx of masters of ceremonies
Mwamadi says it is nice to see a new crop of MCs lately, but cautioned that not everyone is cut out for this responsibility.
“Like I said, directing an event is pure art. It is not for everyone, so, only if one is sure he or she has mastered the art, they should maybe stay and keep practising,” said Mwamadi, who also runs an event management company called Tvents Consult.
One of up-and-coming MCs is Chris Loka. The Chancellor College communication and cultural studies graduate says he has turned the art of public speaking into a business.
He says when he started directing events, he was doing it anyhow, but the education he attained from Chancellor College has seen him slowly handling both small and big events.
“I am able to communicate to a larger group of people, direct events and make communication. I think public speaking is a beautiful art and, if used effectively, it brings out the best from the audience,” says Loka.
Commenting on the same, Lucky Banda, a wedding guest that this publication met recently, said other MCs are irritating.
“Imagine, the wedding I attended last week, the MC kept asking us silly questions, expecting us to respond loudly. I find that irritating,” she said.
Another wedding guest, who only identified herself as Linda, said being an MC now earns them something; hence, those without the skill and art are spoiling it. “I think this art should be left in the hands of those who really know what they are doing,” she said.