Master of Ceremonies: USD Robotics Contest, part 2 (The Agenda)

This is the second post in a series exploring what an EMcee can bring to an event using my recent experience the University of South Dakota (USD) High School Robotics Contest.

The Robotics Contest is very complex. It is a very real technical competition, with detailed rules and an unusual preliminary and play-off round format. It also introduces the high school students to USD and the USD Computer Science department. A lot of competition is packed into a very few hours, so the event must be kept on schedule.

Many of the students competed in previous years, so they expect a first-class competition and improvements to the experience.

The USD Computer Science team planned a great event. In addition to the competition, they arranged for the student clubs related to the discipline to staff information tables. CS department faculty displayed their research, so the competitors (and their advisers) could learn more about the department. They arranged for dean-level representation from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School and more, to address the students. The key was to present it all in a logical, efficient, fun fashion.

As EMcee, I needed to create an agenda to keep things moving. This agenda was based on the original schedule of events created by the department, but much more detailed. It contained:

  • The Original Schedule Outline,
  • The links to a USD Marketing Videos,
  • A description of the USD Computing Clubs,
  • An introduction to Computer Science Faculty,
  • The name, position and introduction for each of the keynote speakers,
  • A review of the rules, and tournament format (with diagrams),
  • The actual schedule for the preliminary rounds, and outline for play-off rounds,
  • The announcement, and awarding of prizes,
  • Correct pronunciation of all presenter’s names.

For this event, I created a projected presentation in PowerPoint, so that all attendees could follow the progress. For this event, it was a good choice. Sometimes, a projected presentation sets the wrong tone, and I work from notes. This decision depends on customer’s goals for the event.

Customers should expect a full and detailed plan from the EMcee. Whenever possible, I like to review plans before the day of the event.

Next week, the series continues with a discussion of the actual event, and ways to keep an audience interested.

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