Serving as an event facilitator, coordinator or master of ceremonies is an honour, and doing it well is an art. The role requires an element of spontaneity, a measure of flexibility, a sense of flow and a bit of grace. But most importantly, it requires an understanding of what the role entails – and what it does not.

There is a distinct difference between facilitation and presentation. A masterful facilitator shines the spotlight on the presenters, drawing the audience’s attention to the details that make each speaker noteworthy, then shifting the attention, or seguing, to the next speaker.

Segues serve to “bookend” each presentation with a brief introduction and a concluding comment that flows easily into the next introduction. These links between speakers create cohesion and a sense of momentum for the entire event.

As the event facilitator, it is important to stay upbeat and positive, bringing a cheerful and eager spirit to the stage. At the same time, the role requires the ability to direct the spotlight, not hog it. Drawing attention to each speaker in turn, transitioning from one to the next, positions you as the strand between the pearls – but never a pearl.

It’s a big responsibility to facilitate an event, so here are some simple tips to help you stay centered and help everyone shine their brightest.

  1. First and foremost, remember this: The best way for a facilitator to look good is to make the speaker(s) look good.
  2. Ramp up the enthusiasm! Encourage the audience to give more applause or show more appreciation for each performance. Your enthusiasm evokes a stronger response from the audience, so be sure to clap, smile and mention something positive about each presenter.
  3. After each speaker leaves the stage, help them make a lasting impression by repeating a phrase, idea or highlight from the speech. When you do, you’re helping the audience retain key concepts and reap more value from the presentation.
  4. After a speech, refrain from supplementing it with additional information or attempting to soften what the speaker said. To do so would diminish the speaker’s credibility. You are not there to supplement the presentations or modify the audience’s perception. Let the speech stand for itself.
  5. Your personal evaluation of a speaker should never be shared with the audience. Your role is to present them, not judge them or evaluate them.
  6. If you have heard a joke or story before, don’t mention it.
  7. Humour is a great way to bridge from one speaker to the next, but it is essential to be tasteful and respectful. Teasing a speaker is unacceptable, unless they are a comedian.

And finally, a quick reminder: After the last speaker has left the stage, remember to give that speaker the same type of “bookend” comments that you gave every other speaker before you begin your concluding remarks. This final segue maintains the feeling of consistency and flow that you’ve worked so hard to create – and when you can keep things flowing right up to the end, you’ll know you’ve mastered the secrets of successful segues.