Master of Ceremonies Training

I just got home last evening from Cleveland, Ohio, where I attended the two day, “Make It GRAND!” workshop. Facilitated by Peter Merry and Liz Daley, two well known and respected wedding entertainment veterans, the workshop provides 16- hours of advanced training, designed to teach individuals the nuanced art of being a highly sought after Master of Ceremonies at weddings and other functions.

In the interest of full-disclosure, Peter & Liz have been my friends for many years. They’re also the force behind the Wedding Entertainment Directors Guild, for which I am also a member. But, above all, Peter has always been a very unselfish mentor to me and someone who I respect greatly for his talent and entertainment expertise. These factors may have contributed to the reason I felt compelled to attend the workshop but have nothing to do with the value of what I learned.

Obviously, Peter wrote the book on wedding entertainment and is fairly well known to just about everyone in the DJ industry. Liz, on the other hand, may not be as familiar. Her contribution as a facilitator, though, is extremely valuable. She holds a degree in the theatre arts and was a working actress in New York for 12 years.  That stage background gives her a unique perspective when it comes to discussing performance technique

Effective Writing and Storytelling

The title of the workshop, “Make It GRAND!,” is somewhat misleading. Some may think, as I did, that it would revolve entirely around making grand entrances at wedding receptions more fun, personal and entertaining. Although the majority of the curriculum does focus on that important element, there were far greater lessons to be learned, particularly about being an effective writer, story teller and Master of Ceremonies.

Intimate Work Environment

The workshop was a small classroom setting. I was joined by seven other wedding DJs from the Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Chicago areas. Our classes began at 9:00 a.m. each day and didn’t end until 6:00 p.m. or later. Even lunch time was spent in the classroom. It would have been easy for the days to become long and tedious. But, the content that Peter & Liz provided was always relevant, entertaining, never ending and of benefit to everyone who made the investment to attend.

For me, it wasn’t the content alone that made the experience so worthwhile. Each day we were asked to write a number of personalized, wedding party introduction scripts and deliver them as though we were in performance. To some that may not seem like a big deal. Anybody can do that, right?

But, knowing that each of my performances were going to be videotaped and reviewed, not just by Peter & Liz, but by everyone in attendance, can be intimidating. Suddenly, whatever self-confidence I may normally feel in front of a large group of strangers at a wedding reception gave way to a bit of stage-fright in front of a small group of my peers. What made those moments so special was having individuals who genuinely care about the quality of my performance offering ideas, advice and direction that will, if followed and practiced, make me a better wedding entertainer. And, that sense of care was felt by everyone in my class.

Safe and Structured Constructive Criticism

Peter & Liz provide a “safe’ and structured environment in which to learn. Offering constructive criticism is an art. It’s easy to tell someone what they are doing wrong and leave it to them to simply change their behavior. Peter & Liz take a different approach and not only point out weaknesses, but provide examples of how you can convert those weaknesses into strengths. They give an honest appraisal of each performance, something that is difficult to receive from friends, family or even in self assessment. At the same time, they provide direction and suggestions that allow for immediate improvement. As I said above, however, much of what was learned will take practice to fully achieve. There are no short cuts to success. It takes confidence to explore new concepts and commitment to achieve one’s full potential.

Don’t be a “Clone”!

What the “Make it GRAND!” workshop is not is indoctrination into a specific performance style. Peter and Liz have never suggested that every wedding DJ follow their lead in performing personalized introductions at wedding receptions nor have they ever suggested that their way is the standard.

What they do offer is a technique that, if performed properly, will allow you to bring something exciting and different to your clients and their guests at wedding receptions. They give you the tools needed to better connect with an audience, emotionally engage them in the moment and leave them wanting more. Even their workshop came to an end all too soon. I would have gladly invested another day.

Continue Reaching!

“Make It GRAND!” is just one of a very small number of performance based workshops available to DJs who wish to expand their knowledge and hone in on their performance skills. I’ve also had the pleasure to attend the “Entertainment Experience,” hosted by Bill Hermann and Jason Jones. And, I know some of you are alumni of Mark Ferrell’s “Master of Ceremonies” and “Love Story” workshops.

The common thread that those workshops share is that they open new horizons for becoming a better entertainer and for being a true master of your craft. They will stretch your talent and take you on a journey that is far away from your comfort zone and into areas of extraordinary possibilities that you never knew existed. But, you’ll also find caring, expert assistance that is dedicated to helping you reach your full potential as a performer and elevate your capability to exceed expectations, including your own.

Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Moving forward requires a passion to take the first step in that direction. Opening new doors calls for courage and confidence. Doing new things involves imagination and an innovative spirit. Being curios takes little more than a desire to discover all that is possible.

Whether you attend the “Make It GRAND!” workshop or any other, open your mind to the likelihood that there is hidden talent within you, talent that is eager to be uncovered along a new path.

Editor’s Note:  Ron Ruth of Ron Ruth Entertainment attended our workshop on April 23 and 24, 2012, in Cleveland, Ohio.  The above article was written for the May 2012 Issue of Disc Jockey News.