Many little steps
One of the first things I do is get a hold of the schedule for the evening as soon as possible. Published time schedules are targeted for the audience so for my purposes I need to provide some more detail to keep things on track. Here's an example:
7:00 Silent Auction
7:30 Very Special Verbal Auction
Now what you see as a simple sequence of events, something that should naturally run smoothly by the nature of it's simplicity, translates into a different reality:
6:58 Reminder about the Very Special Verbal (VSV) auction after the Silent Auction
7:00 Dismiss for Silent Auction
7:20 Announcement about VSV beginning in 10 minutes
7:25 Announcement about VSV beginning in 5 minutes (strongly encourage people to sit)
7:28 Another announcement
7:29 Another announcement
7:30 Final announcement
When running an event like this, over communication is key to keeping things on schedule. These are social events; people love to visit and talk; and getting them back on track is similar to the effort needed with their children in many cases. A MC needs to watch the clock and know what the ripple effect of delays will cause and how to compensate for those delays.
George Eastman House / Foter / No known copyright restrictions Things change. That is the rule of life and certainly the rule of large social events. No matter how tight of a rein you keep on activities, things will crop up requiring you to think on your feet. There are some tricks you can use to handle changes without disrupting the entire event:
- Consolidate announcements into groups rather than handling each one as a one-off as it comes in.
- If you have to change the schedule, do it in a way that will require the least communication possible.
- NEVER ask your audience if they would prefer one option over another. You are just setting yourself up to have a group not happy with you no matter what you do.
- ALWAYS have one point of contact supplying you with changes to the schedule or event. The last thing you need is multiple people telling you conflicting changes.
The role of the ringmaster is not to be the center of attention. The job is simple. Keep the audience engaged and excited, keep the performers on schedule, and keep the lions from eating anyone. :)