Protocols for an Emcee

by Frank Regan
The M.C. plays a vital role in the creation of an environment appropriate to the level and volume of the event. As an M.C. you are involved in a piece of theater which needless to say is empowered by the higher principles of drama. The M.C. should be more than an announcer but less than a comedian although a little humor in good taste is most certainly a plus. In the
implementation of humor, good taste should be a predominant distinction.
  • DO NOT make fun of your colleagues on the microphone.
  • DO NOT attribute non-existent properties or accomplishments to competitors or adjudicators.
  • Treat everyone with the utmost respect. Remember you are there to serve the organizer not to feed your own ego. On the other hand, excessive humility can be a trifle boring.
  • Assume an air of confidence without being arrogant.
  • Avoid using language of a risqué nature. What may seem ok to you in the locker room may very easily be offensive to a percentage of your audience.
  • The better class competitions invariably include a brief bio of the judges in the program. There will probably be a specific time when all of the judges are introduced. The organizer may have gone out of the way to hire a prestigious panel. It is not your place to understate their qualifications. Do not hide the truth about their accomplishments unless you are under very severe time constraints.
  • An M.C. is an individual who is constantly acting into the capacity of leadership. An audience attending a ballroom competition is privy to a different psychological ecology from that of an audience in a theater. They need to be encouraged to deliver their appreciation for everything, in the form of enthusiastic applause. “Dead air” can be your nemesis! Keep it lively!

Announcing Protocols

Let us now deal with some of the protocols of announcing heats.
  • Do not rattle off the information at the speed of light. This will not endear you to the judges who take their work seriously and are already subject to varying degrees of stress. Attempting to save time at the expense of clarity will possibly result in headaches for the scrutineer whose task it befalls to sort out the confusion. Now you have a disenchanted scrutineer in addition to a number of judges whose displeasure you have incurred.
  • Always put yourself in the position of the judges, particularly with regard to the sequence of statements in introducing a heat. Make a distinction initially with regard to whether particular categories are contested or uncontested. This is most helpful to the judges in writing down the numbers in the appropriate columns. If for example there are 3 couples in a particular category, preface the statement with this information. It is also helpful to the judges to make mention of the number of categories in a heat before announcing the competitors’ numbers.
  • Make a point of pronouncing names correctly. It is a mark of negligence and disrespect to mispronounce names. Look through the program and underline Eastern European and French names that you may be unfamiliar with. Enlist the aid of someone who is familiar with the mode of pronunciation and write the phonetic articulation alongside the name in your program. I personally know of some pro-am competitors who have felt insulted by discrepancies in this area. It is your responsibility to the organizer to ensure that all of theclients are catered to regarding the correct manner of identification.
This brief guideline to the essentials of being an M.C. should not interfere with the possibility of a natural free-flowing delivery that is devoid of artifice or mechanicalism. Practice your presentation; ensure your pitch is not too high or too low. Put a smile in your voice. This is a great tip for actors and singers and will work for you effectively. Being an M.C. is an all important job but it can be enjoyed. Share the enjoyment of your role with the audience and with that all important person the chairman of judges. If you have doubts about any aspects of the procedure, check with the chairman of judges.
Hopefully you have now covered all your bases. Good luck and take pride in your role.