People often tell me they admire what I do. I have received my fair share of flattering comments, appreciating my work when I anchor an event or deliver a presentation. The most common one is, “You make it look easy”. That however, couldn’t be further from the truth. I cannot tell you the countless hours I spend getting ready to climb unto a podium, whenever I am going to address an audience. Everyone knows that the MC (EMCEE aka Master of Ceremonies) can make or break the show, and holding that responsibility, is serious business.
In showbiz, you are only as good as your last performance. If you don’t attack every performance like it was your last, you would only be doing yourself a disservice, especially if you talk for a living.
The microphone is a powerful tool and it is unforgiving when mishandled. You can mess up an event so badly, that no one would want to touch you with a ten-foot pole afterwards, because the truth is, people don’t forget.
Want to know how you can become an MC in high demand? Learn these tips on the 5Ps of Presentation and you will be singing or talking your way to the bank.
I cannot overemphasise how important preparation is. You must research. Do your homework. Find out about your employers, the event, if there is any social cause to promote, the key message and the audience. Preparing for the audience is a topic I can talk about for days, but that’s for another article.
You must prepare for everything to go right and for the possibity that something might not. Don’t leave things to the last minute, that way, you forget things and may miss out on very important details. Don’t allow yourself get blindsided, it’s not a good look to wear.
A few years ago, I was invited to anchor a session at an event with a lot of dignitaries and international delegates. I was scheduled to handle only one session on one of the days, as it was a week-long event. My day went on without a hitch but the following day, I knew there was trouble. Without any prior notice or warning, I was asked to come up on stage and hold the fort until matters were resolved and the activities could resume. I could have made a bigger mess of things but fortunately I was prepared. It was my notes during my research that helped me. If I had stuck to only what I was contracted to do, it might very well have been a different story.
The lesson? Preparation makes you ready, both for the best and worse case scenarios. So, be prepared.
Let me tell you, Presentation is an ART. Yes, an ART. It is more than just holding a microphone. It is showmanship. Every time you are invited and obligated to give a speech or address an audience, you are required to SHOW UP. That means stand out and be ready to function at full capacity. You must have excellent written and oral communication skills. If you are speaking in English to the audience, then you must speak English that is easily understood. Don’t just take it for granted that you can dot your I’s and cross your Ts, constantly practice to become better. Learn new words and expressions that add colour to your delivery. Learn how to pronounce words properly.
You must communicate not only with your words but with your body as well. Let your eyes convey a message, let your stance speak volumes. Be audible, presentable, competent and current. Look the part! You’re there to present to people not to talk to yourself. Take your responsibility seriously and make your employers look good.
Here is something that can be tricky because I have seen many MCs and public speakers get personal at events and embarrass themselves. You should know that some things are meant to be private. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth when your audience become uncomfortable or turned off because you have shared gruesome, gory or inappropriate details about yourself.
When I say personalise, I don’t mean be familiar. You might understand this better if you know the saying, familiarity breeds contempt. What I mean is put yourself in the shoes of your audience. How would you want someone to relate with you? How would you like to be spoken to? You should make what you’re sharing is relatable. Share a story or experience that complements what you’re saying and sell the human element so that the audience can connect with it.
If you’re not a comedian, try not to make too many jokes, but rather, be witty and use clever constructs to convey your message. If you are a comedian, please remember, it is not appropriate to joke about everything. Like I said it can be tricky, but once you find a balance and get it right, then you’ve struck gold.
This is the money-pot right here. Every P before this and the last P is important but they all feed into your performance. If you are prepared, then you will be confident to present and if you can master how to personalise your presentation, that adds more depth to your performance.
Remember when I talked about showmanship? This is where it really comes to play. You are allowed and expected to have a personality, one that is charming, makes you approachable, captivating and pleaing to be around. Performance is also an act. Essentially, you are an actor at that point in time. By that, I don’t mean become someone you are not, rather, amp it up 100%, two thousand kilowatts, 4k movie-shooting range. On that stage, you must understand the power you wield. You are a storyteller and you musn’t take it for granted. Give a performance that you can be proud of and can keep the cheques coming.
Don’t be loud or obnoxious, overbearing or confrontational, smile, be thoughtful, polite, take notice of protocol, be conversational and take charge, be enthusiastic and show that you care about what you are doing. Don’t stop performing until the curtains close.
This comes really easy when you’ve got your facts right. When you have all the information you need, can express yourself clearly and concisely and your message is relatable, your performance will be persuasive. You can go a step further and learn the art of salesmanship; just know that it is an easier sell when you combine Preparation, Presentation, Personalisation and Performance.
The principle of the 5Ps can be used in any occasion where you have to address an audience, whether small or large. They work like magic…… every time!
So, the next time someone tells you Talk is Cheap, tell them it’s a thin line between becoming a star and professional suicide. Besides, many professional ‘talkers’ are multi-millionaires today and you are 5 Ps away from becoming one. Let your talk and walk be the same so that people can also walk up to you and say, “You make it look so easy”.