Rousing Members’ Spirits With the Voice Alone
Core principles for improving the district discussion meeting.
The young Daisaku Ikeda served as emcee for the last major event attended by his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. It was March 16, 1958, the day when President Toda entrusted the youth with the mission and responsibility to accomplish kosen-rufu.
The prime minister of Japan had been scheduled to attend the ceremony, but he canceled at the last moment. The young Daisaku determined as emcee to dispel the disappointment felt by the participants, while at the same time awakening these youthful successors to their vow as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
SGI President Ikeda writes in volume 25 of The New Human Revolution, “It was a moment of supreme challenge—to rouse the spirits of the six thousand members with his voice alone” (p. 189).
The success or failure of a meeting hinges in large part on the emcee. President Ikeda has shared some points on how to be an effective emcee—let’s put them into practice at our discussion meetings.
See you on the front lines!
With deepest appreciation,
SGI-USA General Director
Tips on Being an Emcee
SGI President Ikeda gave the following encouragement in volume 25 of The New Human Revolution.
1. The success or failure of the meeting depends on the emcee. “That’s why emcees must have the determination to bear full responsibility for the meeting and use their voices to transform the atmosphere into a place of joy in seeking the Law, a true Buddhist assembly.” (p. 186)
2. Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo prior to the meeting. “It is vital that you chant with strong determination to make the meeting you’re moderating a success. The purpose of Soka Gakkai meetings is to advance kosen-rufu, and they are the contemporary versions of the assembly of the Lotus Sutra. As such, serving as an emcee at a meeting is to carry out the noble work of the Buddha.” (p. 192)
3. The most important thing is the sound of one’s voice. “It should be stirring, powerful and brimming with life force. With the voice, an emcee should create a mood for the members, sometimes speaking lightly and at others times with great solemnity.” (p. 189)
4. Preparation is key. “When you’re going to take on the crucial role of emcee, you need to get a good night’s sleep the day before, then chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on the day of the event and eat a proper meal . . . Make sure to pay attention to your posture and sit up straight.” (p. 190)
5. Pay special attention to timing. “There are times when you need to jump right in and speak to keep the tempo upbeat, and times when you need to take a breath and pause. If you lack that crucial sense of timing, you [might] ruin the meeting’s mood. “For example, what happens if you say, ‘Those who are too hot, please remove your jackets,’ and then introduce the next speaker before the members have a chance to finish taking off their coats. They won’t be able to applaud, and the next speaker will have to start talking over the rustle of the crowd.” (p. 191)
6. Responding quickly to events is extremely important. “At large meetings, for example, when the front rows of a meeting are fairly empty, but the back of the room is crowded and people are spilling out into the hall, the emcee needs to find the proper opportunity to ask participants to move up to the front. “If the meeting has been going on for a long time and people are growing tired of sitting, the emcee should consider encouraging the members to stand up, stretch and maybe do some simple calisthenics. And if the room is hot, you can invite them to remove their jackets.” (pp. 191–92)