Smart DJ Tips: 6 Tips for Being a Great Master of Ceremonies (MC)

September 6, 2018 by Jason Alexander

What is an MC? Ask any DJ and you’ll get a variety of answers. First, let’s start with what an “MC” even means. Some will say it’s for a “Master of Ceremonies,” others may say “Mic Controller,” and others may say “Mic Chief.” In a way, these are all correct. For me, however, I believe an MC is a Master of Ceremonies. An MC is not only a host but also controls the event flow and timeline. Yes, a coordinator may be present, and you may have the timeline, ahead of time, but it is up to the DJ/MC to ensure that the event flows as the client wants it to, especially if there is not a wedding planner or day-of-coordinator, present.

So do all DJs also serve as an MC? It depends on the DJ or DJ company. Some DJs will say “I don’t MC” and I don’t make any announcements, at all.” This is quite surprising to me, as a long-time DJ. I started in 1991 when I was a kid. Long before the laptop or controllers existed. I literally had 2 turntables and a microphone (and a dual cassette deck that even had pitch control). 🙂 I learned about DJing, then, from watching other DJs, before me. At that time, no one had a separate MC, at least in my town. So I had to learn to be good at both. Today, with our DJ company, Austin’s Best DJs & Photo Booths,” I expect every one of our DJs to be great at both, too! We simply will not hire a DJ who refuses to talk on the mic. Trust me, we’ve interviewed some.

So how can you be a great MC? Let’s discuss this.

  1. Know Your Environment – The first thing to keep in mind is the environment where you are playing. Is it a wedding? A college party? Prom? 50th birthday? All of these events require an MC, and you cannot be the “same” MC for every event. If you’re playing for a 50th birthday party, you can’t be “Lil Jon” on the microphone. They obviously don’t want that. However, you’d be surprised at how many DJs try to be the “hype man/woman” at every event they do! There are a time and place for that, and you have to learn when and where that is. I’ve met with hundreds of couples, over the years, and only one, maybe two, wanted their wedding DJ to be like a club DJ! How did I know this? I simply asked! Talk to your couple and find out what their wedding day vision is. If you hear “we want it like a club,” then by all means, be that club DJ/MC. Younger couples may say and want this.
  2. Perfect Your Pronunciation & Enunciation – In this case, practice makes better (I don’t believe anyone can ever be perfect). Practice, practice, practice! Learn to speak clearly, articulate your words and message, clearly, learn inflection (modulation and tone in your voice), practice your pitch, timing, etc. I’ve been to events where DJs looked and sounded like they were playing for a funeral! Don’t be that DJ.
  3. Know When to Speak – This one is very important. I’ve heard many people, over the years, complain that “man, that DJ wouldn’t shut up. He kept talking all over all my favorite songs.” Don’t talk over the words of any song. Always speak during the “breaks” of a song. If there’s not a break, simply loops any instrumental part of your song and speak. Also, you don’t have to talk during EVERY song. Many clients have told us they just want us to make announcements, only when needed. Lastly, know that you’re a DJ/MC and not a comedian. At clubs/bars, being a comedian may work and can be entertaining; at weddings, not so much.
  4. Turn Down the Music – I know this isn’t a must, for every DJ, but it’s a great idea. Many people can’t hear what you’re saying if the music is just as loud as your microphone. Turn it down, not all the way down, and people will hear you better. If it’s a very important announcement, then sure, turn it all the way down, if needed.
  5. Don’t Hold the Mic Too Close – This is one I see many DJs/MCs do, all the time. I’ve even been guilty of it, myself, at times. While you may be able to hear yourself fine, most people will not be able to hear exactly what you’re saying, if the mic is touching your lips/mouth. You hear it because well, you’re next to the speakers and you know what you’re saying. 🙂 Hold the mic 1-2 inches away from your mouth and it will be much more clear.
  6. Get a Good Microphone –  I know this seems like common sense, but well, it’s not common. Many people will try to save money and buy a cheap microphone. While cheap mics may work, it doesn’t mean they work well. Invest in a great mic. They’ll last longer, sound better, and even have less feedback (depending on the type you buy).

These are just a few tips to help you. Again, the best thing you can do is practice, practice, practice! Feel free to include any of your advice/tips in the comments.

Filed Under: Digital DJing, DJing School Dances, DJing Weddings, Event DJ Tips, Mobile DJ Business, Mobile DJ Career Development, Mobile DJ Misc