Don’t settle for just OK; carefully cultivate your skills
It’s the end of the evening and you mentally look back at how your event went. For the most part you are satisfied that you did your job well. People have come up to you and expressed how they enjoyed the uniqueness of your presentation and how well you incorporated the personalities of the bride and groom. Still, there is that nagging feeling that you could have done a little bit better on some aspects of the night’s festivities. “Oh well,” you think, “I’ll do better next time.” You send out a performance evaluation form to the bride and groom and it comes back with Outstanding and Excellent marked, with just a few Goods checked. It looks like you did another bang up job. Maybe those few doubts you had weren’t really important anyway…or were they after all?
Sound familiar? Have you ever found yourself in this position and simply brushed off the doubts as you continued on your way to the next gig, doing business as usual? Is this the work of a true professional-one who is concerned with doing the absolute best for his or her clients? Of course not! Yet, many of us have handled the situation this way.
What separates the truly professional mobile entertainer from the ones who are less than concerned about personal and business improvement is the recognition that growth should be a continual process (no matter how long we have been in the business). What can we do individually to show our professional attitude that is so necessary for our business reputation? Let’s look at a few areas where we can change our outlook and pep up our performance.
More Than An Ounce of Preparation
The first area we should examine is our preparation. Good preparation is the core of any outstanding performance. We often have the attitude that “I’ve done this hundreds of times. I could probably do this in my sleep!” WRONG! Remember this important fact that is easy to forget when we have been in the business for a long time: Each and every event, though it may be similar, is different and unique to the personalities of our clients. This could be the only time in their lives that they will hire a DJ (of course, we need to try to change that!). The point is that we need to show the proper respect for our clients, as well as ourselves, by preparing thoroughly for each event as if it were the first time we were doing this.
Proper preparation includes checking IN ADVANCE OF THE EVENT that we have the necessary music, the proper pronouncement of names to be announced, the names of family members, who the other vendors are that will be working the event, and the way the client wants any special events or traditions to go. Knowing the names of family members and special friends to whom they may want to give special recognition is imperative. Don’t think that you can just show up the day of the event and find these things out, and also present a polished, professional event. Working this way is not doing the best we can for the client. Remember, you can never know too much about your clients, their families and friends. (Even knowing things that should not be said is a great help!) Remember, knowledge is power, and in this case, it is power to create an unforgettable reception by incorporating each individual client’s own vision, personality and style.
Being the Host with the Most
Another important aspect is our actual presence and our MC/Hosting abilities. There is an old saying in the business and it is very true: We definitely should NOT make ourselves the life of the party. However, it is our job to bring life TO the party. Our presence should exhibit professionalism, authority and responsibility the minute we arrive at the facility. Have your clients hired you because they trust you, with your knowledge and ability, to properly direct a reception or party? Then it is your obligation to stand out as the director, MC and/or host for the evening. Show everyone the difference between a truly professional entertainer and someone who just plays music. Show them how it can make (or break) the event. You will see a difference. At nearly every event, I have at least one person come up and say that they had been at a recent event that was very disorganized, with no direction from the DJ. Believe me when I say it makes a big impression on people when things run smoothly.
Are you not sure how to go about hosting or being the MC for a big event? Two great resources I can think of to give you that extra boost of confidence are Jim Cerone’s Perfect Host DVD series and Mark Ferrell’s MC Workshop. Those that have taken advantage of these teaching tools will tell you that what is learned has been a tremendous help for their DJ businesses.
Is rehearsal a part of your regular routine in preparing for an event? You might think that rehearsal is simply something that would be included in preparation, but let’s differentiate a little. Preparation is getting facts and details of the event from the client and planning out the timeline for special events of the evening, as we have discussed. Rehearsal is taking it one step further by actually going through your event out loud. It is something that most of us probably do not do to the extent we should, but it can be invaluable in bringing extraordinary results. By saying names out loud, honing our vocal techniques in front of a mirror, recording ourselves (NOBODY wants to hear the dreaded DJ Voice!), and practicing using both physical and facial gestures, you can become a much more polished and natural DJ/MC. Through repeated rehearsals, your mind becomes more attuned to your upcoming event; it actually becomes part of you and just comes out automatically the day of the event.
Rehearsal can also gives you extra self-confidence. You’ll walk in assured that you will remember the names correctly, that you will be a great MC and that the day will come off without a hitch!
Once More, with Feeling
A point, which too many times goes unnoticed, is that of emotion. Every event we do is filled with some kind of emotion, whether it is excitement, fun, love, humor, and sometimes even sadness in remembering ones that could not be there. We should use emotion to our advantage. For instance, at a wedding there is a huge opportunity to use emotions throughout the event. As an example, during the Grand Entrance, can you do something that will get the crowd emotionally involved before the bride and groom walk through the door? If you have done your homework, there is probably a little tidbit of information that you can share with the guests to really get them pumped up and involved. Take it a step beyond the usual “Let’s make some noise for the bride and groom” routine. Has the couple shared a touching or humorous moment together that you know about from your consultations with them? Look for ways to incorporate this and share it with the guests before they arrive. You can also create emotional moments throughout the evening without overdoing it. (You don’t want to be telling a story every time they get up to do something, and of course, caution is called for. You would never want to say anything that they may have told you that would be improper or embarrassing for them or their families.) The point is, if you can reach the hearts of those in attendance by making it very personal and touching, you will be guaranteed to have the most memorable events-which will set you apart from your competition.
The last thing that I will say is simply, “Be inspirational!” Inspire yourself and you will inspire your clients as well.
Remember; don’t think outside the box…because there is no box! Don’t let go of your creativity. This doesn’t mean that you have to change everything you do, just take it one step at a time. Try changing or adding just one thing to your next gig, then look for ways to change one more thing at the next one. Always look for areas where you can improve. Ask yourself if you are properly preparing for your events. If not, work on those points where you may need improvement. Are your hosting and MC abilities great? If you are not sure, then ask a trusted fellow DJ to give you some constructive criticism, then turn around and do the same for them. Are you not rehearsing before your gigs? Try it and you definitely will see a marked improvement in your performance.
To sum up this approach to improvement, don’t be satisfied with what you are doing now. No matter who you are or how long you have been in the business, you can always grow as a performer and learn new things. Do a personal check on yourself and, where you have to, pump up your performance!
Filed Under: Issues from 2009, Performing
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