For many people, there is nothing more daunting than an upcoming date when they have to do a spot of public speaking. Whether it is presenting your findings at an industry conference, leading a large team through an important meeting, or giving a speech in front of a crowd of strangers, these are often fantastic career opportunities that also make you quiver at the knees.
Luckily, there are some professionals out there from whom you can learn a lot of tips and tricks. MCs (Masters of Ceremonies) host events, conferences, galas, and dinners for a living and it is their job to ensure that it is a pleasurable and memorable experience for everyone involved (talk about pressure!)
Next time you are nervous about leading a room for a period, channel your inner MC and recognize that there is a reason someone has asked you to speak. For more practical advice on making it the best presentation of your life, read on to learn four essential tips for giving an effective speech from a professional MC.
1. Take control when you are on the stage.
A professional MC knows why they are on stage. They understand that their role at the event is to work the crowd, present fitting entertainment, control the timings of the proceedings, provide damage control when necessary, and to introduce those who are going to speak or present.
Just like an MC, for you to give an effective speech, you need to be clear about your purpose for being up on stage. This requires you to dig down deep and become confident in the reasoning behind you giving this speech. Throw those negative imposter syndrome thoughts out and instead acknowledge that you have legitimate reasons for holding people’s attention.
It is only at this point that you will be comfortable enough to take control when you are on the stage.
There is a reason the term “fake it until you make it” is spoken worldwide. It is quite simply the truth. The last thing you want to be doing is going on the stage and giving off nervous, timid energy. Instead, you want to walk out there exerting positive, confident vibes that direct attendees to listen and learn.
2. Know how to use the microphone.
If you are speaking in front of a large group of people, there is a good chance that you will be presented with a microphone to ensure that you can be adequately heard. However, there is nothing worse for an audience than having to sit through a presentation of someone who doesn’t know how to speak into a microphone properly.
Luckily, you can learn a few tricks of the trade from an MC in Dubai who is well versed in the right (and wrong) ways to hold a microphone.
Most importantly, you want to be holding your microphone at a 45-degree angle because it will pick up the sharpest sound when the tip is directly in front of your mouth. This also ensures that you aren’t blocking your face, giving the audience a better view of your facial expressions.
Additionally, too many people think that they have to hold the microphone as close to their mouth as possible, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, it is recommended that you keep the mic 1 to 2 inches away from your mouth to ensure that your voice is clear and not muffled.
3. Interact with the audience.
One of the principal roles of a professional event presenter is to cultivate and maintain the appropriate vibe and flow for an event in order to keep attendees interested and engaged. They monitor this through visual cues and audio cues by asking questions to the audience.
Depending on the type of speech you are giving, getting buy-in from audience members may or may not be appropriate, but you certainly want to take a page from an MC’s book and make sure that the crowd isn’t falling asleep. You want to consider your speech as having a conversation rather than delivering a one-way monologue. Don’t forget about eye contact!
Interacting with the audience can take many forms, including making a joke (hopefully, one they laugh at), passing out presentation slides, utilizing props, or agreeing to take questions during the speech. It can even be as simple as moving around the stage or giving the audience five minutes to speak with the person next to them about your topic.
How you choose to interact and engage with your audience is up to you and will depend on the type of event and the subject at hand. However, the only limit is your creativity, so seek to think outside the box to make your speech a memorable one.
4. Remain calm in the case of an unexpected hiccup.
At the end of the day, no matter how much you prepare and practice your speech, there are going to be certain things that are just out of your control. After all, when you are performing something live, things are going to happen. You are human, and things go wrong.
Whether it is a tech glitch, an uninterested audience, an emergency in the middle of a speech, or something else entirely, professional MCs have had plenty of practice when it comes to hiccups and what to do at the moment when something unexpectedly goes wrong.
So, what do you do if this happens to you?
You remain as calm as possible and try your best to deal with whatever is occurring professionally. Perhaps this means stopping your speech and using your microphone to direct people to the nearest emergency exit. Oh the other hand, if you are the one who has slipped up, simply stop for a second, take a breath to re-center yourself, and carry on — not allowing one mistake to ruin the whole thing.
Obviously, no one wishes for an unexpected surprise. But, if it does happen to you, take it in stride and keep your cool.
Are you planning on doing any public speaking this year? If so, what are your greatest fears or biggest challenges surrounding this topic? If not, what is stopping you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Hisham Wyne is an internationally recognized MC, broadcaster, presenter and moderator who helps the world’s best-known brands create memorable occasions. He regularly hosts conferences, panel sessions, gala dinners and award ceremonies for some of the world’s best brands. With 150+ events under his belt, Hisham is the professional speaker that brands and agencies turn to when wanting to interview, engage and entertain government VVIPs and Hollywood celebrities.