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Five reasons your CEO should never be your event MC

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Warwick Merry - Five reasons your CEO should never be your event MC
Too often the event organiser says, “Oh we don’t need an MC, our CEO is going to do it!” This is a huge red flag.

Often the CEO – or senior manager – wants to be seen as the face of the event or the face of the company. Sometimes the CEO has a dramatic background, is an accomplished speaker, or feels they have the flair for the event that will bring it to life. It’s still a red flag.

Here are the top reasons why your CEO should NEVER be your event MC.

It’s not their job

Their role is to schmooze. They should be networking. They should be chatting to prospects, sponsors, clients, customers or even team members. They can do far more for the company in these roles than they can by standing on stage filling time or waiting in the wings for that technical glitch to be sorted. Get them out there to truly engage on a personal level rather than stay distant on stage.

Less is more

It is important for the CEO to be the face of the company. So do it in moderation. Leave everyone wanting more. Open with a stunning burst of inspiration. Wrap things up with a five minute ‘where to from here’. By all means, let the CEO leave his or her mark, just don’t water it down with the mundane. Then throughout the event, keep schmoozing. Keep mingling with everyone. Connect on a personal level and not just as a head on a stick on a stage.

No time and no ‘Nos’

In getting the myriad of moving parts together for the event, the MC works closely with the event organiser to make the magic happen. Too often the CEO is not available until the day of the event so doesn’t have the time for strategy meetings, sound checks, rehearsals, run throughs, briefing sessions, speaker briefings and so on. Even if they do, who is going to say ‘No’ to the CEO’s idea? Many people struggle with that, even if it is a rubbish idea. The power imbalance often makes the situation tricky (at best).

They can’t make mistakes

Professional MCs will do whatever it takes to engage the audience, inject some fun and levity. In that process, they need to take risks and they need to fail every now and again. In the scheme of things, these are minor risks. However they are risks a CEO cannot take. While an MC can act like a court jester and be a bit of a fool, a CEO cannot do that. The reputation damage for them would be too great. If the host is not taking these risks, the event is going to be a little bit dull and feel like more of the same.

They don’t have the skills

Too often people think being an MC is just reading the run sheet. Like all the great artists, professional MCs make it look easy. It isn’t! It includes managing the crowd’s energy, helping the organiser with speakers, writing speaker introductions that have a punch, playing with the audience, filling in when you need to because a speaker ended early, doing initial AV triage, building speaker confidence, managing Q&A, helping promote the event, crowd control, sponsor support and so much more. You are always ON because you never know what is about to happen. Quite frankly, your CEO does not have (or need) these skills.

Do your event a favour. Don’t have your CEO as your MC. Set them up to be the rock star who introduces and/or closes the event, has the special state of the nations session, co-presents with the celebrity or has the special meet and greet session with key customers. Or simply let them rove around and be the ambassador for your company that they are. That is the role that brings the most value to your company and is the best way to make the event awesome.

Warwick Merry is a global award-winning event host and event evangelist. For 25 years he has been hosting and producing online, hybrid and in-person events. He is the host of the Making Events Awesome livestream and Making Events Awesome group.

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