I looked out over a sea of business-suited executives crammed into an over-heated conference hall. I was the last speaker before lunch, and thoughts of sandwiches and coffee were front-of-mind for most of them.
“Our next speaker needs no introduction – Ingrid Moyle!”
“The MC certainly likes to keep it short,” I thought wryly as I made my way to the stage.
As I walked to the podium, I saw more than a handful of people turn to each other and mouth, “Who is she? What is she talking about?”, followed by a shrug from the person next to them.
I watched as hundreds of programs were hastily flipped through by people all trying to work out who I was and whether to stay for the session or zip out for a head-start on the nibblies.
A flurry of people dashed for the exits and the canapes as I clicked my first slide.
“This is going to be tough!” I thought. “These people have no idea who I am, what I have done and why I may have something they may be interested in hearing.” I was behind the eight-ball before I had even opened my mouth and my session fell limp like roses a week after Valentine’s Day.
MCs (Emcees or Master of Ceremonies if you prefer) can make or break a speech. With a good introduction, people connect with the speaker and are open to hearing more.
With a fabulous introduction, people sit on the edge of their seats, craving the insights that the speaker may give, and wanting to buy what the speaker has to sell.
In my case, the MC genuinely thought people knew me so didn’t need to add in anything about my history, what I would be talking about, or why people should listen. The trouble was, that assumption was false which meant people had no reason to hear what I had to say and drifted away in droves before my first words were spoken.
Your Website Home Page Is Your MC To Your Business
One of my more recent clients is a professional speaker, and we were comparing notes about MCs we had experienced.
Talking with her, I had one of those lightbulb moments that you get when you are super tired and your brain is in overdrive.
I realised that your website home page is like an MC to your business.
Your website home page is the introduction to you, your credibility and your services. The words and images that you use on your home page determine if people want to hear more about what you have to say or offer, or disappear looking for a fresh cup of tea and a scone.
Here are the ten deadly sins of MCs and how they play out in the real world on your website home page.
1. My Business Needs No Introduction – Welcome To My Business
Many people have minimal words on their home page, relying on images to direct people deeper into the site. If they do have words, they only have a couple of dot points without any context, or a simple “Welcome to my website”.
Imagine the MC saying to your audience: “Welcome to Mary Smith. Speaker. Author. Coach” and then sitting down. Your audience will stampede for the egg sandwiches.
Website home pages need to establish who you are, what you are known for, what makes you credible and trustworthy and what’s in it for the audience to listen to you.
This can’t be done in just one or two sentences. Website home pages need to paint a full introduction to you and your business, and leave the audience keen to discover more about you.
2. The “Here’s All The Speaker’s Best Punchlines And Points” MC
Some MCs go off script and tell stories about the speaker that end up sharing all the speaker’s key points, without the benefit of context or the stories around the punchlines. This leaves the speaker repeating what has already been said over the next 30 minutes, with all the surprises removed
Don’t start by ripping all your virtual clothes off and prancing around fully exposed on your home page. Website home pages should be a tease and not the full reveal of your key messages.
Certainly, discuss the areas where you are known for your services or thought leadership on your home page, but leave the meat of your models or details of your steps and approach to later pages in your website.
3. The “Crappy Joke” MC
Some MCs try to be funny by telling bad jokes that are as funny as Christmas cracker jokes, or by telling in-jokes between the conference organisers or other speakers.
I have seen this happen in real life in many tradies’ websites, where the tradie tries to make fun of other trades, their apprentices or even their wives or partners.
Crappy jokes on a home page make people cringe, and are incredibly successful in making people in those targeted groups click away in droves.
If you want to drive away potential clients, tell a joke on your home page. Unless you are a successful stand-up comedian (and even then, be super picky), assume all jokes are off the menu.
4. The “I Can’t Remember Your Name” MC
Have you ever been to a function where the MC can’t seem to get the correct name of the speakers, persons of honour or the sponsors? They say the name of ex-girlfriends at weddings or mispronounce the Gold sponsor’s business name. Serious … Cringe … Factor!
Yes, this happens on website home pages as well. Often small businesses who outsource their web copywriting to the Philippines or via Fiverr end up with reams of content that doesn’t spell their business name correctly.
The problem is, the tradie or business owner doesn’t pick up all the mistakes after the 15th correction, so websites go live promoting competitors or incorrect business names.
Or the business copies and pastes (cough … plagiarises) the words their competitor uses on their website, complete with the name of the competitor proudly showing in every sentence.
At the very least, get your own name right on your site home page and be especially cautious if you are naming other businesses that you have worked with or publications where your work has appeared. Names matter.
5. The Random Song MC
Some MCs seem to be frustrated contestants on The X Factor and take every opportunity to break into song – whether it is warranted or not.
A rousing chorus of “We are the Champions” is only acceptable after a few too many cold beverages at the karaoke and chicken parmie night at the local pub, and not in an introduction to a speaker.
Home pages should never break into song … or sound. Ever!
Auto-playing videos are the scourge of the internet, which is why browsers such as Firefox have invested a squillion dollars to mute auto-play videos on web pages. Add auto playing video to your website homepage and may the wrath of a thousand angry grandmas woken from their afternoon nap descend on you.
6. The Never-Ending Story MC
“Our next speaker got a High Distinction in Legal Torts, and a Distinction in the History and Philosophy of Science … and a good behaviour award in grade five.”
Some MCs go out of their way to find out every possible fact about the speaker and take great delight in regaling the audience with every tiny minute detail of their life to try and build the credibility of the speaker.
The only problem is, by the time they have finished reading the full list (usually in monotone only reserved for a year 7 English class reading Shakespeare aloud), the audience’s eyes have glazed over, and they are mentally planning what they will select from the buffet.
Don’t include every award, every big name business and every degree you own on your home page. Website home pages should demonstrate your credibility, but not overwhelm people with details. MCs and home pages are not the main event; they are only the short lead-in show.
7. The “Without Further Ado” MC
When an MC exclaims, “And without Furtha Adoo – Mary Smith!” I wonder what poor Furtha Adoo did to be excluded from the party. Furtha Adoo is like the famous actor who always says they are going to be at the next Supanova event, and for the past eight years has cancelled every time. They are just program fillers but never add value by actually doing anything.
Home pages should NEVER introduce Furtha Adoo or other filler language on their pages – no matter the temptation! Keep your language sharp, specific and real.
8. The Fake Self-Deprecating MC
Humblebrag. Self-deprecation. Some MCs seem to excel in the art of fakely putting themselves down in the hope of a laugh, to be more likeable or to appear the same as their client base.
Phony humility is as obvious as a multi-millionaire politician speaking Aussie slang in a marginal housing commission seat in the lead up to an election.
If you have skills or experience, be clear, honest and to the point on your home page. You are not a tall poppy; you are just telling it like it is. Don’t put yourself down or try to be what you are not.
That also goes for using a language style that is not your own. Don’t pretend to be an uber-cool entrepreneur or a Instagram-worthy mommy-blogger unless that is your real persona. Use the type of language that you use every day in your business (minus the jokes and swear words) and images that reflect the type of customers you want to attract.
Shred all the photos of you standing in front of fast sports cars you rented for the day, addresses across Australia (that turn out to be the residential homes of all your relatives or serviced offices you never step foot in) and lattés next to the water. Keep it real. What you are is truly enough!
9. The “Let’s Bag The Other Speakers” MC
Roasts are hilarious – when the person being roasted is in on the joke and an active participant. However, some MCs decide to randomly launch into impromptu roasts of other speakers or organisers, which is super funny until it gets awkward and starts to sound just a teensy bit bitter.
Website home pages that morph into comparisons with the competition, where the competitors are painted darker than Darth Vader in a solar eclipse and the business is bathed in a permanent halo of light, don’t do you any favours.
Aside from heading into illegal marketing territory, it makes you sound like a mean girl, with not a good word to say about anyone. Go positive on your home page and run your own race. There’s already too much negativity in the world without you adding to it.
10. The “I Have No Idea How To Use This Thing” MC
Tap. Tap. Tap Tap Tap on the microphone. “Is this thing on?” MCs who have no idea how to use a microphone and end up creating massive feedback from the speakers or muffling the sound because they are holding the microphone too close to their chest make it hard for the audience to hear what they are saying.
Website home pages that start “We don’t know what to say about our business but …” or websites that are filled with broken bits are like tech-unsavvy MCs. They make it hard for potential clients to connect with what they are trying to say.
People can’t look away from the technical train wreck long enough to hear the message that the page is trying to promote. Broken bits on websites frustrate the heck out of your clients and make them feel your business is a bit broken as a result.
Regularly check all the links and forms on your home page as you need everything working 100% perfectly at all times.
To wrap up, how well is your MC doing at introducing your business through your website home page?
When you are writing and creating your home page, imagine an MC reading the words on stage as your introduction. How does it feel and sound? Does it cover all the bases, or is it missing that spark?
Is your home page positive, enticing and creating interest in what you have to say? Or is it falling foul of one of the deadly sins, leaving your potential clients heading for the exits and a cup of coffee?
If your website home page is less than stellar, perhaps it’s time to get a new perspective.
We turn your bland into brilliant ideas and create a home page that grabs attention and leaves your audience wanting to know more. After all, isn’t that what you deserve – a bit of brilliance for your business?