Father of the Bride: Hey, buddy, I’m not paying you to hear your thoughts on life. I’m paying you to sing.
Robbie: Well, I have a microphone, and you don’t, SO YOU WILL LISTEN TO EVERY DAMN WORD I HAVE TO SAY!
-From The Wedding Singer
Over the last 25 years of DJing and MCing events, and attending conferences including the Mobile Beat Las Vegas show, I have learned many things about being a DJ and MC. However, most of my experience has been gained on the job.
As I was discussing with a new DJ on our staff this past weekend, the only real way to learn how to be a DJ or MC is, ultimately, job training. While some skills can be taught in a DJ training session like the ones we and many other companies run for our staff members, or at a trade show seminar or workshop, it’s really the on-the-job situations that make the most difference. There is only so much that standing in a room facing a mirror with your SM58 in hand and “acting like you are a DJ” can do.
What I was discussing with that new DJ, who without a doubt has the music, mixing and technical skills of being a DJ down, but needs to hone his the mic skills. I boiled it down for him this way: Your job is to direct people’s attention, and simply that. While the stereotypical DJ thinks he is the center of attention, saying stuff in that deep “DJ voice,” it’s really the equivalent of “Hey, ladies and gentleman, look at me, I have the microphone”—kind of like Adam Sandler’s Wedding Singer character quoted above. Simply put, you are not the center of attention at any event you do. You are more like the ringmaster at a circus.
Yes, your job is to get the attention on you—then quickly redirect it to wherever it needs to go to make the event flow. For instance, the grand entrance of a bride and groom into they’re wedding:
“Good evening everyone, I’m Ryan your MC for the evening… and now its time to bring in the wedding party. If you could direct your attention to the doors to your right…”—thus placing the center of attention on those doors and the impending excitement, after they were with you for only a few seconds.
Or the bouquet toss when you are getting people up to the floor:
“It’s time for the bouquet toss and we need all of Christine’s unmarried ladies on the dance floor….—Putting the attention on the bride, as you walk towards her to get names.
Many DJs think they need to BE the center of the event, and that’s where they make a big mistake. Even when you are doing a Love Story description, you aren’t the big voice in the room, you are telling the story and people need to be looking at the people you are talking about, and pointing them out—those people who are part of the story of the bride and groom that you are telling.
When I was talking with that new DJ on Sunday morning as we drove home, I brought up this style of MC skills because he was like most new DJs: initially apprehensive about being the center of things at a wedding or other events. I put him at ease by explaining that people will only be looking at him for five or maybe 10 seconds at a time, until the attention is handed off to the person he’s directing people toward. (By the way, this is a good reason to have the sound for the wedding reception properly spread out around the room, and not just aimed at the dance floor. If they can’t hear you, you can’t direct them!)
The bottom line is to remember that you’re the director— there’s a reason you’re called a MC, which stands for “MASTER of Ceremonies”— so be the ringmaster and be confident…you are a DJ with the skills to rock the party AND put the focus on the guests of honor at any event you do. If you do that, you are sure to keep moving on to bigger and better gigs!
Filed Under: Issue #151, Performing, Personal Development, Weddings
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