Yes, I will be MC-ing Oktoberfest this year with the German Texan Heritage Society, all while wearing my all-too-sexy lederhosen. And as they say in Texas, this ain’t my first
rodeo Oktoberfest MC Gig so here are some insights on the job that apply equally well, if not more so to advertising:
Make the audience feel welcomed
Obviously, a primary job of any Master of Ceremonies is to make the audience feel welcome, as if you, the representative of the organizer, are glad to see them, glad they came out, and want them to have a good time.
Think of it this way: another word for MC is “host.”
In advertising, this translates to respecting the audience. Don’t talk down to them, don’t try to bamboozle them, and don’t subject them to crap writing, or sub-standard production.
Talk to your listener, not at them.
Keep the energy and enthusiasm high
People attend an event in order to have a good time. They want to have fun. As MC, it’s my job to stoke the energy of the group, first by having strong energy and enthusiasm myself, but also in bringing it out of the people around me. In the case of the German Texan Heritage Society this weekend, I assure you that once the good German beer gets flowing (early, of course) we will have no problems here.
If you’re not excited about the next act, or sequence, or showcase, why should anybody else be? If someone else IS excited, use your spotlight and mic to draw people’s attention to that. Have a sense of drama and play.
You also have got to have a sense of drama and play about the whole thing. Drum roles exist for a reason. Michael Buffer’s “Let’s get ready to rumble!” exists for a reason.
For advertising, this translates to two things: interest and entertainment.
Your ad has to be more interesting than whatever thought previously occupied the mind of your listener. If it’s not more interesting, why should they stop entertaining the idea they were thinking about to pay attention to you?
And when it comes to branding, the majority of your audience won’t be immediately in the market for whatever you’re advertising. That means your ad has to offer some other kind of advertising, beyond a sales message, to hold the attention of the audience.
Control the flow and timing of the event
You can’t let things stall out, either during acts or in between acts. If part of the entertainment starts to flounder, you gotta get in their and save them, and perhaps help wrap things up. And knowing how to entertain the crowd between events — while making sure that time doesn’t stretch out too long — is an equally important part of the job.
In advertising, this often comes down to compressing your ad into a shorter time slot. Make it a power-packed 30-second spot instead of a languid, dragging 60. Trim the excess, the dead-spots, the sentences that introduce no new idea or let audience attention wander.
Bad ads have either no big idea, or only one, and they bore the audience for half the ad before introducing it.
Great ads keep the pace of imagery, action, and ideas fast enough to hold attention.
Ensure the sponsors feel proud to be involved
Events don’t happen without sponsors. Someone has to help pay the bills, right? And the least they expect from their donations is to feel proud to have helped make the event happen. I think there’s a huge difference between effective advertising and clever or “creative” advertising.
So that’s a big part of MC-ing — helping to create an event that sponsors can be proud of, while helping to give the sponsors a spotlight so their contributions can be known.
It’s the same thing with advertising.
Now, a good ad is– or ought to be — about a lot more than pumping up the ego of the business owner or employees.
But at the same time, the business owner and business employees ought to feel good when they hear or see their ad on the radio or TV or billboard, etc. They ought to feel as if the ad is really true in what it says about their company, and they ought to also feel that they genuinely like what the ad says about them.
In other words, they ought to feel proud.
Do whatever is necessary to make it a great event
Hey, ultimately, if you’re the MC and the event fizzles, that failure also rests on you, even if it had nothing to do with your time at the mic.
So… on the one hand, don’t pick crappy events to MC or organizers to work with. And on the other, be willing to move mountains to make your events successful, even if that involves acting as a bar back, assistant stagehand, or chief bottle washer in addition to Master of Ceremonies.
It’s very much the same for advertising, in my experience anyway.
Once you pick a partner, you either grow them or you don’t. And if you don’t, at least part of that is on you, even if it was more an operations flaw at fault.
So you gotta pick your businesses and partners with care. But once you do, move heaven and earth to make them successful.
Don’t just rely on the mass media plan. Be prepared to do some hustling and promoting and showmanship. Sometimes a properly timed marketing stunt can make all the difference, and you gotta be ready to deliver that, even if it’s not technically part of the marketing plan.
So if you want to see some of these lessons in action, come join me out at Oktoberfest.
Or, you know, contact me about working together to transform your advertising and grow your business.