Master of Ceremonies Job Description
A master of ceremonies acts as the host at an occasion, such as at a wedding, an awards ceremony, or a business conference. Sometimes referred to as an MC or “emcee,” this role involves giving speeches or presentations to an audience, monitoring the agenda to ensure the event runs smoothly, and introducing performers or speakers. A master of ceremonies may work full or part-time, sometimes working evenings or weekends to accommodate the event. To become a successful master of ceremonies, applicants need to have the ability to make an audience feel at ease and create a good atmosphere, be skilled at public speaking, and have strong time management skills. This job would be well-suited to people who enjoy entertaining and have a great sense of humor.
Master of Ceremonies Duties and Responsibilities
The type of organization a master of ceremonies works for will determine the exact roles and responsibilities. Based on job listings we analyzed, a master of ceremonies’ duties typically involve:
Meet with Organizers
Prior to an event, the master of ceremonies meets with the organizers to run through what’s expected from them, understand who else will be participating in the event, and discuss the overall agenda.
Prepare Introductions and Speeches
The master of ceremonies prepares the speech for the event, based on the discussions with the organizers, and prepares any introductions they need to give to present other participants or speakers. This may involve researching them or finding out key facts that they can mention in their introduction, such as career highlights.
If the organizers have not already done so, the master of ceremonies will prepare an agenda for the event and plan out a schedule so they can time each section and transition to the next participant to ensure everything runs smoothly.
On the day of the event, the master of ceremonies checks confirms everyone is present who is required to be and amends the schedule and speech to accommodate any last-minute changes to the running order of the occasion.
Ensure Events Run to Schedule
The master of ceremonies checks that everything is running to time and will monitor if anything is overrunning so that it can be tactfully interrupted, such as a speech that is going over schedule at a wedding.
Master of Ceremonies Skills and Qualifications
A master of ceremonies is an excellent public speaker, can put an audience at ease, and is spontaneous. Typically, there is no formal education to become a master of ceremonies, just the ability to prove the aforementioned skills as well as the following:
- Adaptability – MCs need to be able to react to situations quickly and find the best way to respond, so adaptability is a crucial skill to this job
- Friendly Disposition – A master of ceremonies needs to be relaxed, professional, and friendly. These professionals need to be able to put people at ease and make an audience feel welcome at whatever event or setting they’re working in
- Quick Thinker – To be a successful master of ceremonies, quick thinking is a must-have skill. As situations arise or audiences react in unexpected ways, a master of ceremonies needs to be able to remain calm under pressure and quickly resolve the issue
- Sense of Humor – Adding comedy to the presentation or speech is a great way to calm an audience and make people feel comfortable. A key skill to being a successful master of ceremonies is a great sense of humor and the ability to make people laugh
- Presentation Skills – MCs need to be natural-born public speakers and be able to present speeches clearly, calmly, and in an entertaining manner
Tools of the Trade
A master of ceremonies needs familiarity with on and off-stage sound tools to ensure a clear EQ, such as:
- General Sound Equipment
Master of Ceremonies Education and Training
There is no formal requirement to become a master of ceremonies, although employers will require evidence of an applicant’s ability to entertain and present to people. Previous experience in a similar role is advantageous. Those wishing to become a master of ceremonies can develop their speech and presentation skills through training sessions and speech clubs, such as Toastmasters. Building up a network of referral clients is the best way to gain experience and exposure in this role, such as offering to be the MC for friends, family, or colleagues at events.
Master of Ceremonies Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for a master of ceremonies is nearly $29,000. Masters of ceremonies in the 10th percentile earn around $18,000 a year, while the highest paid earn close to $78,000 annually. Level of experience has the biggest impact on the pay level for this job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the growth rate for this sector is expected to decline by nine percent through 2026.
We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you develop a successful career as a master of ceremonies:
Master of Ceremonies: Guidelines and Tools for Comedy, Hosting and More – This is a practical guide by TC Tahoe to the ins and outs of MCing and hosting. From magic shows to business meetings and fundraising events, this book will provide tips and tricks to help transform anyone into a professional entertainer.
Master the Ceremonies: The Emcee’s Handbook for Excellence – Author Dana LaMon provides 121 tips and techniques to develop the skills to excel as a master of ceremonies, and this book provides great examples to illustrate each of the precepts. The book helps the reader with everything from talent shows to an awards ceremony, with ideas for how to help the audience and participants feel a part of the show.
Expert MC – This professional LinkedIn community of over 1,000 members is the ideal place for networking with others in the industry as well as learning about upcoming events and job opportunities. The group is open to anyone in the master of ceremonies sector, from comperes to corporate MCs.
Lester Leo Blog – Lester Leo is an experienced Emcee, another term for master of ceremonies, and outlines his top tips for building a successful career in this industry. From preparation to ideas for setting the tone at an event, this blog is a great source of suggestions and techniques for developing a career as a master of ceremonies.
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