3 keys to success with the younger crowd
You smile as you begin speaking to your prospective client, listening closely and thinking about how to draw them in to close the deal. Everything is going smoothly and then it happens.
You ask, “Will there be children attending the event?”
“Oh yes, there will be lots of kids there!” is the answer, as a shudder runs down your spine.
Why is it that the mere mention of children, kids, little ones, rug rats, tweens and teens can make even the most seasoned DJ want to curl up in a ball and stay there? Is working with young ones really that bad? In answer, I say a resounding, “No!” As a matter of fact, I will agree with the legendary Pete Townsend and say, “The kids are alright”!
While some of us do have a slight fear of working events where children will be attending, others happily see these events as challenges to our expertise and use the opportunity to provide little extras for our clients. Let’s see just see how we can become experts at taking care of the kids at our events, as well as making it fun for everyone, parents, children and ourselves.
First, let’s take a quick look at the dynamics of children. In other words, what makes them tick? We’ll look at the question by way of three aspects. Number one on the list is attention.
Kids Like to Be Noticed
They enjoy being in the spotlight. Unfortunately, this does not work well at many events, such as weddings or anniversaries, for example, where the focus is centered on a specific person or couple. How can we give attention to the kids while still keeping the focus on the main event?
There are numerous ways to do this. In my wedding packages, I have an optional “Kid’s Package” that makes for a great add-on while also taking care of the children at the same time. One of the items in this package is the option of having a kids’ table. This, of course, is arranged ahead of time with the venue’s event manager. Having all the kids at one or two table(s) helps to keep them in one location and allows you to use your imagination. Having small games, crayons with coloring books, etc. will help keep the youngsters occupied. In lieu of coloring books, you may want to have plain paper tablecloths so they can be used as a giant coloring pad that can be given to the bride and groom or other host after an event. I have also used a similar large sheet of paper on the dance floor where the kids can show off their artistic talents.
Two other very useful items that are popular choices are making balloon animals or hats and magic. I can understand that not all of you would choose these because it does take extra practice and time to learn, but it is well worth the effort to provide a great time for the kids (as well as the grownups)! It provides a little more variety and makes you stand out from the average DJ by adding these extra elements to choose from.
Short Attention Span
The second part of attention is that children’s attention span is very short! The more variety you have to offer (especially during dinner) the better. This doesn’t mean that you need to constantly bombard them every minute with something new. However, a smooth flow will help keep the kids occupied, let them have some fun and keep them out of trouble. Of course, this in turn keeps the adults happy. (Which makes for more referrals!)
Use your imagination, talk to parents, teachers, day care providers and your DJ network to come up with additional ideas. One good tip is to talk to the kids on their level. In other words, physically get down whether kneeling or sitting on a chair or the floor so that you are eye level with them. This is a quick bonding method, which allows you to be in control from the start.
The third dynamic of children is ENERGY! Kids have an abundance of energy, which, along with their short attention span can be a true challenge. How do you meet it?
Include games, contests and dances just for the kids, such as the old standards: Simon Says, Coke & Pepsi, Freeze Dances, The Bunny Hop, The Chicken Dance, etc. These provide great ways to get a little of that pent-up energy released. You could even include a scavenger hunt to keep them occupied. Of course, all of this would be discussed with your client in advance of the event so that they can help with the planning as well as assist you (or assign someone) during the event. The client would know best who might like to volunteer their help. You could even contact the volunteer beforehand to get a better idea of their personality and also to ask if they have any specific ideas for the children.
So rise up and meet the challenge! A little imagination and advance planning with your client can go a long way as you work to involve the children. Remember, “Don’t think outside the box…because THERE IS NO BOX!” Let your creativity flow. The sky is the limit as you find your own unique way to take care of the younger ones at your events. Enjoy them and have fun with them because we all know “The Kids Are Alright!”
Filed Under: Issues from 2009, Performing
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