7 Essential Questions You Must ask Your Client before any MC Assignment
Hopefully with every MC assignment you do, you have time to ask these essential questions to your client before the event. This can be face to face or via a phone briefing. The earlier this is done the better as it allows you to prepare more comprehensively for the assignment and it allows the client to attend to things that they may have overlooked.
Remember, your job is to help the event run successfully. It’s not just your time “onstage,” you are now a vital part of the team. Your expertise, advice and tips are part of the package. Every time an event organiser or client says – “oh thank you, I hadn’t thought of that,” you know you are doing a great job.
This is not a complete list. Every assignment is a little bit different. Over time you will add your own questions and eliminate others, but it is a great starting point for your own question list. I always have a copy in a folder on my desk which I can grab for a phone chat and a copy in the folio I take to a briefing session.
Q & A. Questions & Answers.
Are Speakers expected to answer questions from the floor after their presentations? Do you have roving microphones for the questions? Is this Q&A part of their allocated time?
(Q&A is a vital component of interactivity and engagement at any event. Some speakers generate lot’s of questions. Some will only generate blank stares. Some speakers, like politicians, will try and avoid Q&A. Discus with your client what you are trying to achieve. Remember – The Professional MC’s Cheat Sheet, part of the Expert MC Toolkit & Resource Manual contains 20+ Questions you can ask any Speaker or Presenter)
Numbers. How many people are expected at the event?
(This may seem to be a simple question, but working to a crowd of 500 is very different to working to a crowd of 50! You need a different energy level, different content, perhaps a different outfit. The sooner you can start planning this the better. Also, visualising yourself in front of the appropriate number will help you get comfortable with the event and prepare you for successfully running it.)
Introductions / Bios
Will you be provided with Introductions or Bio’s of each speaker?
(We have provided plenty of training for you on this topic, both in the Resource Manual and in the Video Series. Learn to take their Bio and turn it quickly into a great Introduction.
You will quickly learn that most professional speakers should provide an Introduction for you. If they do, use it as written.)
How scripted is your MC role going to be?
(Some clients will give you a complete script. Others will provide bullet points. Some will give you nothing. Bring this up early. It’s especially important for the Welcome. Are their any VIP’s / Sponsors that must be thanked?
Are speakers getting gifts at the end of their presentations? If so what? Do they all get gifts?
(Sometimes a committee member or board member might speak at an event, but they don’t get a gift. Sometimes a sponsor might speak as part of their sponsorship package, they probably don’t get a gift. It’s important to know who’s getting gifts and who’s not as there might be an exact number of gifts to be given out.)
The Back Channel
Is there going to be an official Twitter hashtag for the event? Do they have their own conference app?
(If you are not up to speed on using Twitter at an event, then now is a good time to do it. More and more events have an official HashTag and encourage people to use it. There are plenty of tutorials online. You maybe expected to explain it to delegates and read out tweets during the event. Likewise, many events have their own apps that you will be expected to know your way around. The sooner you start playing with them the better.)
This is something that I normally cover when I get to the event, (refer to the “At The Event” module) but I like to bring it up at the briefing because it really shows you know what you are doing, are experienced and have their best interests at heart.
Mention that you need to be clear on any Emergency Procedures and would like to talk this through at the venue. Venue Staff will provide you both with exact info on what to do if there is a fire alarm, blackout etc. But remember all eyes will be on you. It’s your moment to be calm and in control.
A trend I’ve also noticed in recent years, is that there is often a designated First Aid person at conferences. They do this role in the office environment – trained in CPR etc, so they carry this role onto the conference, often bringing the medical kit with them. It’s good to know who this person is.