Public speaking skills can be acquired. All of us have the potential to live, relate and connect with each other better through public communication and leadership. Speaking life shares the experiences of a toastmaster who reached the finals of the District 80 Table-Topics contest in May 2007. Everyday is a day that we can become better communicators.

How you can learn to be an effective Master of Ceremonies (Emcee)

What is this "one"?
Your boss asked you to be one for an upcoming meeting.
Your company's annual dinner and dance needs one.
You are scared to become one.
What is this "one"?

Master of Ceremonies (Emcee)
It is the role of the master of ceremonies!

Before I joined toastmasters, I thought that the emcee was the person who held onto the microphone and filled up the time between between prize presentations by talking about inconsequential things. Little did I know that my journey into the toastmasters movement would reveal that the emcee is arguably one of the most important roles that you can take in your personal, and professional lives!

What does an emcee or toastmaster of the day do?
During a toastmasters meeting, there is a club member who is assigned the role of the toastmaster of the day (TMD) or sometimes it's referred to as toastmaster of the evening (TME) as most toastmasters meetings are held during weekday evenings. What a toastmaster of the day does is to manage the day's meeting by being the facilitator of the meeting. The TMD announces any changes in the program which is typically sent out to participants a few days before each meeting. He or she welcomes the participants to the meeting and manages how each person who is speaking or making presentations will be welcomed and introduced to the participants. It is about getting the meeting going in an orderly manner and in the sequence as provided in the program.

How it works is that for each meeting, the lecturn or place where the speeches or presentations take place is controlled by the TMD. The TMD will hand over control of the lecturn to each of the various speakers who need to deliver their speeches. In return, each speaker will return back control of the meeting to the TMD once they have finished their speeches.

The Toastmaster of the Day / Emcee can make or break a meeting
The tone of the meeting can be made or broken by the TMD as he is the one that sets the atmosphere. If the TMD is serious, dead-pan and expressionless, you can be sure that most of the participants will react to his lack of energy and enthusiasm with equal if not extra measure. Hence, successful toastmasters meetings are helped by having a TMD/emcee who is able to feel the pulse of the participants, work with it and inject his enthusiasm and energy to get the participants pumped up about the meeting.

How to be an effective Master of Ceremonies (Emcee) / Toastmaster of the Day
It all begins with practice, practice and more practice. :) Visiting and joining a toastmasters club is a great way to start the ball rolling. Even the most gifted athletes who win Olympic medals train hard 24x7x365 in order to get themselves ready for a shot to qualify to win a medal. So too is the journey to be an effective emcee.

First of all, you need regular practice. Second of all, you need to be coached. Toastmasters meetings provide that coaching as many experienced toastmasters also went through the process of taking up the role as an emcee during a meeting as the toastmaster of the day. They would be happy to share in a supporting and non-threatening way how you can become a better emcee. Thirdly, learn from seeing experienced toastmasters perform the toastmaster of the day role and how they manage the meeting by the remarks they inject into the meeting as well as managing the changes to the program in order to bring about a meeting that fulfils the agenda while keeping to the time alloted.

Are you intrigued about what goes on in a toastmasters meeting? Drop me a email at rod.loh @ gmail.com or leave a comment with a contact email and you can get in touch with me.

Speak well and live well!