By Mike Walter
Did you ever write a word and then doubt whether you are using it correctly? I had that happen recently with the word “impetus.” I looked it up and was relieved that I had gotten it right. Meantime, I’ve been thinking about my next article for this wonderful blog, trying to explain the perfect time to start training someone to be an MC. Suddenly everything came together in perfect harmony. I had my idea for the article and I had the perfect word for which to describe it:
im·pe·tus: Etymology: Latin, assault, impetus, from impetere to attack, from in- + petere to go to, seek 1 a : a driving force b : stimulation or encouragement resulting in increased activity
There is a moment, a convergence of events that takes place, usually about two to four months after a new DJ starts with us and has been assisting on jobs (for more on that see last month’s article) when the time seems perfect to begin MC training. I’ll try to be as exact in this article as possible but it is probably like trying to describe the moment when you fall in love. It’s not quite something you can be precise about but you know it when it happens.
The first step in the process is that we encourage our MCs to give us feedback on our new music mixers. The first thing we are looking for is quite simply which mixers are cutting it or even excelling, and which ones aren’t and should be phased out. Professionalism and responsibility are key here. Have they been on time for every event? Do they call into the office every Monday like we ask them to? Are they available for any last minute events that come up? A “Yes” for all these questions puts you in the “stick around” column. A coupla “No’s” and your short DJ career with Elite will soon be coming to an end.
Besides professionalism and responsibility, we also want to know how this new mixer is “performing” out at the events. After all, showing up is just the start of things, we want a great personality on the jobs too.
Feedback That Doesn’t Hurt Your Ears
The “performance” feedback that we want to hear from our MCs is that not only is this person solid technically, hitting all their cues perfectly, paying attention behind the board etc, but also that they are enthusiastic at the event. Hopefully they are joining the MC on the dance floor during the line dances and other appropriate times of the night. We also want to see them handing out our giveaways (hats, leis, etc) with a certain pizzazz rather than just passing them out like flyers on the street. Hand-clapping, smiling, singing along, these are all good traits as well and something that shows me the person has MC potential.
Another thing we look for in a new recruit is the eagerness to get more involved in the ancillary events at Elite. Do they attend our monthly meetings? Are they at some Bridal Shows to help hand out props? As an MC they will have to do all these things to be successful so it’s a good sign when they get involved before it’s a requirement.
When we hear this feedback and see this behavior consistently we start “fast tracking” the mixer. This means he or she starts working more jobs (picking up those coveted Friday and Sunday events) and most of the events are with my veteran MCs.
Shhh. It’s a Secret!
So what is the impetus? What is that “driving force,” the “stimulation or encouragement resulting in increased activity?” Well, this is the secret that I learned years ago and I share it with you with the promise that you never tell any of my new recruits:
They have to ask for it.
I will start talking about MC training and how cool it is and even how they are demonstrating all the right traits. Veritably, I dangle the carrot. But it is up to them, at some point, to say, “So how can I get into MC training?”
The point is: I want them to want it.
Understand that wanting it without showing all the right things doesn’t get you anywhere. I’ve had dead-beat music mixers (who are only with the company because we are crazy busy and need some warm bodies) ask for training and of course I turn them down. I’ve also had mixers who are beginning to show potential ask and I tell them, ask me again in a month. But the key is, when they are ready, they’ll know and they’ll want it and you’ll know and you’ll want to get a microphone in their hand.
Not to get all Zen here, but there’s a Buddhist Proverb that says, “When the student is ready the master (teacher) appears.” I’ve found that to be very true with MC training. And when they are ready, I am here.
Have a different idea of when to get your staff into training? I’d love to hear it.
Mike Walter – “The Quality Corner”
Mike Walter is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of DJ staff training and multi-system business development. He is also a writer for Disc Jockey News and Producer of the International DJ Expo’s “DJ of the Year” competition. Mike is the owner of NJ’s Elite Entertainment, selected by The Knot and Modern Bride magazine as one of the country’s top entertainment companies. Mike’s highly praised DVD set is available at TrainingYourNextGreatDJ.com. To contact him about his on-site training services or for general inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.