An article written by Anthony Winyard and published in Pro Mobile the magazine for Mobile DJs, issue 63
Over the last few years there has been a huge increase in the number of DJs in the UK offering all day wedding services; of not just offering background music during the wedding breakfast, drinks reception etc., but many now promoting themselves as a Master of Ceremonies and DJ.
There are several benefits to this. If you are at the venue anyway, because you are playing background music, or have provided lighting, or other equipment, then you can increase your earnings by providing your services as the MC. Additionally doing the MC role well, establishes a great bond and rapport with the guests, meaning that by the time of the evening reception there is already a connection with some of the audience, and also often a greater respect. So rather than the usual situation of the DJ starting around 7ish, for the evening reception, and not knowing any of the guests and them not knowing him, I find the reception goes even better when I’ve got to know some guests and they’re on first-name terms with me by the time of the reception.
There are many ways of performing the Master of Ceremonies role. Such as the more formal way, similar to that of the traditional Toastmaster in his red coat, or a more informal fun way and utilising the power of music, and various degrees between those two descriptions. However, one thing they all have in common is the vital importance of communication, or more importantly good communication. I cannot emphasise it enough how vital it is to have excellent communication skills to perform the MC role effectively.
Communication let me down
The audience, as we all know, can be very unforgiving. It doesn’t take much for them to tune you out and ignore you. For example:
- If you make an announcement and you’re speaking too fast to be clearly understood, many of the audience will just start chatting with each other, and tune you out.
- If you don’t speak clearly when making announcements, again they’ll start chatting with each other and tune you out.
- If you talk too much or for too long, you’ll be tuned out.
- If your announcements are garbled or confusing, you’ll be tuned out and so on.
Good communication skills eliminate all of those potential issues, and rather than tune you out, the audience will give you their full attention and also warm to you and you gain their respect. To perform the MC role effectively it is absolutely imperative that you have the full attention of the audience. If 1 or 2 tables continue to chat away while you make an announcement, not only does it mean that the people on those tables are unlikely to know what message you have tried to convey, but you vastly increase the risk of other people following suit and start chatting during your announcement, and if you lose their attention, you lose their respect, and you make the event extremely hard for yourself.
No second chances!
The most important use of the microphone you make at ANY event is the very first time you use the mic, because that sets the tone for the rest of the day/night. When it is done right, the rest of the event goes smoothly and everyone will hear all announcements and introductions. When that first use of the mic isn’t done right, a certain percentage of guests will just ignore whatever you say on the mic from that point onwards! Ideally in that first use of the microphone you would also introduce yourself, in a confident manner.
Let us dispel the myth that you’re born a speaker or you’re not! There is one excellent way of improving your communication skills, that is also very cost effective, which is by becoming a member of Toastmasters International. This is a global organisation and has nothing at all to do with the guys in the red coats! They have clubs in 122 countries, including all over the UK & Ireland, and there is likely to be a club within easy reach of most people reading this.
How does it work?
“A Toastmasters meeting is a regular learn-by-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere.
There is no instructor in a Toastmasters meeting. Instead, members evaluate one another’s presentations. This feedback process is a key part of the program’s success.”
(Taken from the Toastmasters International site at http://www.toastmasters.org/
A typical club comprises members from many professions, industries, walks of life, ages and cultures, and the one thing that everyone is there for is to improve their communication skills, because communication is vitally important in virtually every business, in sport, in relationships, everywhere!! Most of the members are there to improve their speaking for the presentations they give at work, or for the sales meetings they do, and you also find many guys join because they have to give a wedding speech and are dreading it!
most people aren’t aware of their speaking strengths and identifying them can be very useful and affirming
Each meeting comprises 2 parts. One part concentrates more on impromptu speaking where you can improve your use of improvisation in a fun way, with little pressure. The other part of the meeting is about delivering prepared speeches. When you join, you work through a manual called The Competent Communicators manual, which comprises 10 projects/speeches. Each speech has different objectives, such as use of body language, your vocal variety, structuring a speech, inspiring people, persuading your audience and many others. After each person speaks another member gives him or her an evaluation. The evaluation will commend you on your strong points and what you do well, and will also include some suggestions on what could be done to make the speech even better, with examples of how the suggestions could be implemented. All evaluations are done in an encouraging and supportive manner, and this is one area that really help you excel because most people aren’t aware of their speaking strengths and identifying them can be very useful and affirming. It can be extremely useful to know specific methods that will make your communication far more effective.
By the time you have worked your way through the manual you find that your communication skills have improved considerably, meaning that you can handle audiences with ease, and also it will help you for meetings and many other areas of life.
To find your nearest club, go to http://reports.toastmasters.org/findaclub/
If you’re in the lucky situation of having many clubs near to you, I’d recommend visiting more than one before deciding, because all the clubs are different, and you may find that one club fits your personality better than another. Some clubs meet weekly, others fortnightly and some monthly. Depending on the frequency of the meetings, membership starts from as little as £45 per year! Which is ridiculously cheap for what you will gain from membership.
In the meantime, until you go along to a nearby Toastmasters international club. If you find yourself in the situation of having to MC an event and have had no training, here are some quick tips. These will NOT make you an expert, but they will make it easier.
- Speak slowly and clearly
Most people tend to speak quicker when they are nervous. Before you begin speaking take a deep breath and slow your speech down, otherwise your audience will probably not understand you.
- Know the reason you are talking
Many DJs fall into the trap of thinking that they are the “star of the show” and that it’s all about them! Even if you’ve been hired as the MC, the function or event will still be taking place for someone else’s benefit. Remember the mnemonic WAIT, which stands for Why Am I Talking? Don’t babble on; get to the point in as few words as possible.
- What’s in a name?
It is absolutely essential you know the names of the hosts and that you can clearly pronounce those names! If you don’t have a great memory for names have them written down where you can discreetly refer to them when needed, maybe even write the name(s) on the back of your hand, so you can see it as you hold the mic!
- Be confident
People are naturally drawn to anyone who’s projecting confidence. When you feel confident your voice will project much louder and clearer. The guests and everyone at the event want you to succeed, because they want the event to be a success, so in your mind think of them as friends, which will make it easier. Most importantly relax and enjoy your work!
Most of us are looking for ways we can earn more. You can of course sell additional services such as various lighting options, or another option is to improve what you do and how you do it. So in the next issue I will touch upon the workshops, courses and other training options that are on offer these days, to those keen on that avenue.
From Pro Mobile issue 63