Event compere, host, MC, emcee, chair, facilitator, presenter. So many different titles to describe one job. OK, depending on the event these titles may mean slightly different things but the skill set is the same.
I often get booked as an event compere and in recent months have compered both internal and public-facing conferences, networking events, a charity ball (see the photo above), an auction and various other business events. Those who book me recognise that they need an experienced professional to host the event.
But increasingly businesses and organisations want someone internal to ‘front’ their event, and I can absolutely understand why they want someone known to the audience (for example, a room full of clients) and who knows the industry or topic under discussion inside out, in a way that I as an external compere never can.
That’s why I’m now regularly asked to coach those undertaking the role of compere or MC, to ensure they represent their brand effectively and deliver an event smoothly and on time.
If you’ve been asked to compere an event, here’s a tip for you: As compere you are there to be a friend to everyone in the room.
Firstly, be a friend to the audience. Make them feel comfortable so they are receptive to what they’re about to hear. If an audience is uncomfortable or unsure of what is happening or what is expected of them, they’ll stop listening and engaging. If nothing else, an audience wants to know when the next break is. You’d be amazed the difference knowledge of the next opportunity for coffee and a loo break will make.
Secondly, be a friend to your speakers or presenters, to make them feel comfortable so they can perform at their best. Make sure they know where they need to be, when – from sound-check to getting mic’d up to being ready to take the stage. Make sure they know how they’ll be introduced (and double check they’re happy with the introduction you’re using, as there’s nothing worse than a compere dropping a fact or story into the introduction that ruins something the speaker was about to say) and support them if nerves are getting the better of them.
Lastly, be a friend to the event organiser, as they’re going to be the hardest working (and most stressed) person on the day. Stay in regular touch with them and be prepared to help them out when things don’t go quite to plan. Take your cue from them on any announcements that need to be made or any adjustments that need to be made to the running order. The event organiser and compere need to work very closely together before and throughout the event.
If you’ve got an event coming up that you’re going to be hosting, get in touch to talk to me about some compere coaching to ensure you deliver – and the event delivers – to the highest possible standard.