How to Emcee a Banquet

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A banquet is an important event, whatever the occasion is. It keeps the community together. It marks an occasion. It celebrates life, present or past. A banquet depends on its emcee. The attendees need structure, and an emcee needs to be able to move them from one stage to the next.

Things You'll Need

  • Guest list
  • Proper attire
  • An audible voice or a microphone
  • Guest of honor
  • Menu
  • Entertainment

Be involved from the planning stage. The venue will make an enormous difference, as will the time of day. The number of attendees will be important in time planning. You’ll need to consider all these things to plan your approach. You’ll be better at some things than others, and you should work with the planners to act on your strengths. The guest list, too, deserves your attention. Know your guests' preferences. And know if there are names that may cause conflict when they meet.

Be part of the theme. The party’s theme will decide what you wear, where you’ll sit and even the tone of voice you use. An anniversary banquet for the extended family demands something different from the host than a reception for a political figure.

Welcome everyone. If you can, welcome them individually. Stand at the door, and be prepared to shake hands a hundred times. Then welcome them all together from the podium or head table. Talk about the guest of honor and the occasion, and invite the audience to enjoy the meal.

Flow with the food. If you’re going to present for the entire event, let the audience know that you’re enjoying the meal with them. Each course is an opportunity to compliment the staff or to tell a story.

Introduce the entertainment. Everything the band or the singer does is an opportunity to compliment them. If the attendees know that you’re enjoying it, they’ll enjoy it as well.

Introduce the guests of honor, or the guest speakers, thoroughly and personally. If he’s a professional, know his resume and tell the audience about his accomplishments. If you know the guest of honor personally, share some memories. Above all, let everyone know how happy you are to have him there.

Work with the photographer. Being photographed is a ceremony and a chance to make everyone feel important. Be sure everyone has the chance to be photographed with the guest of honor; this is the opportunity to see that everyone has the chance to meet him and talk with him. A formal photograph isn’t the same as a candid, and it’s up to the emcee to make sure everyone gets the attention they deserve.

Send everyone off feeling appreciated. They’ve been a part of the event, so let them know you’ve enjoyed having them there.

Tips & Warnings

  • Everyone loves flattery. A well-placed compliment can save an awkward situation. People will believe anything nice you say about them.
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