Come To Your Senses

Over the past 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend countless DJ gatherings, conventions, confabs and trainings.   More often than not, I’m a speaker, but at last year’s Mobile Beat Conference in Las Vegas, I was just an attendee and I had the opportunity to listen to a fellow WEDGuild member, Jim Cerone, from Indianapolis, give a terrific three part seminar called “The Perfect Host.” 

Jim broke down the keys of what he calls a “Perfect Host,” and what the WEDGuild calls a Wedding Entertainment Director™, into ten senses, and talked about how we use these senses to give our clients “The Best Wedding Reception…EVER!”

I’ll list them here, and frankly, I don’t know how much of my take is from my brain and how much is from Jim’s, but what really matters is that all of this goes into the wedding celebrations of our clients.

  1. Sense of adventure.  This is not some rote thing we do, another gig, another Saturday night of playing the same old songs and saying the same old clichés.  This is a once in a lifetime event for our clients, a night that will live forever for them, good or bad, and it’s a great adventure.  I’d add to this a sense of enthusiasm.  I’m lucky.  It’s built into me.  I’m just an enthusiastic guy and I love the adventure of something new.  A brilliant way to kick off the list.
  2. Sense of Purpose.  One of the things I’ve railed about for years in my seminars is that as a DJ or Master of Ceremonies, it’s imperative that one has an objective, a goal, with everything we do.  Every announcement, every song, every gesture, should have an objective, or as Jim calls it, a purpose.  What is our goal here?  Our goals are determined by our clients’ goals.  Sometimes it’s wild energy and sometimes it’s subdued appreciation, but if we don’t have an objective, a sense of purpose, we are unlikely to accidentally reach our goal.
  3. Sense of Empathy.  I’ve often said the best thing I ever did to understand this business was when I planned and participated in my own wedding.  Now, having been in the business since 1988, I have the perspective of not only the groom, but also of a dad.  I’m the age (or close to it) of many of the parents of our couples, and I absolutely have empathy for both generations.  Empathy of trying to create an incredible wedding on a very tight budget, empathy of wanting my friends and family to feel what we were feeling, empathy of wanting a lot of dancing, but not being much of a dancer myself.  Oh, I empathize.
  4. Sense of Atmosphere.  I think too many wedding vendors get so caught up in their own job, that they lose perspective of the big picture.  For years, we’ve tried to explain to our clients how important the first hour of a reception is to the success in the last hour.  The atmosphere created with lighting, music, décor, catering staff, photographers, videographers is so important.  Understanding and helping our clients to understand the importance of atmosphere is one of our most important jobs.
  5. Sense of Self and Selflessness.  I LOVE this one.  I can’t begin to tell you how many clients have said to me over the years, “I don’t want a DJ who is the center of attention.”   The problem is, none of the worst offenders ever think it’s them.  Being aware of what our presence does to the event is critical and understanding that making the moment is far more important than being the moment is the key to our success.  Probably 90% of the awesome moments we create at receptions aren’t even directly attributed to us, because I prefer it that way.  Selflessness.  It’s just not about us, is it?
  6. Sense of Tact.  I don’t understand why this one is so hard, but it is.  On my original DJ Training DVD, The 1% Solution, I show a video clip of a very talented local DJ violating just about all of these senses, saying some incredibly inappropriate things during the garter removal.  Although you can’t ever see the DJ, he has enough of a reputation locally that most people have figured out who he is.  He’s tacky.  He thinks a laugh is a laugh, nevermind the situation.  He approached me at a professional mixer recently to tell me he had seen the video and was laughing about it.  He went on to brag about how he charges so much less than me and all the other top end DJs.  He did all of this in front of other wedding professionals.  No sense of tact.  And that’s why he works so cheap.
  7. Sense of Humor.  Although this might be the most important one as a Master Of Ceremonies, it’s also the most dangerous.  See above.  Ever see someone “trying to be funny?”  It’s like listening to someone “trying to sing.”  It’s painful.   And that doesn’t even take into account that even if it’s funny, it’s still not necessarily appropriate.  I would add to Jim’s list, a Sense Of Appropriate Humor.
  8. Sense of Appropriateness.  Ah, see, he even thought of that.  A wedding is a celebration, not a frat party.  Although some weddings are off the hook wild and crazy, it’s still important to grasp the appropriateness of everything from volume of music to lyrics to lighting to humor.   I play golf every week with three other outstanding wedding professionals, and our behavior and language on the golf course is appropriate there, but very inappropriate at weddings.
  9. Sense of Timing.  I don’t even know how to explain this one, but I sure know it when I see it.  We all know how important timing is in comedy, but it is for drama as well.  The power of the pause is incredible.   Even in mixing music, the difference between a packed dance floor and a handful of dancers can be as simple as the timing of the music choices and the mixes.  Let Me Clear My Throat by DJKool is an awesome party song, but if I ever started a wedding with that, we’d kill the dance floor for the whole night.
  10. Sense of Fairness.  This is a testament to Jim’s upbringing and gentility.  Frankly, I would have never thought of this one, but it’s the big picture mentality, not seeing just how something affects one person, but everyone.
  11. I would have substituted a Sense of The Big Picture.  Knowing everything that’s going on, all the time.  This job requires great peripheral vision, the ability to hear a conversation while having another and the ability to multi-task in the face of overwhelming odds.  Part of the big picture means understanding that not paying attention to any one of these senses renders everything else useless.  Do 10 out of 11 but with no Sense of Tact?  Everything except Purpose?  Or  Appropriateness?  I wouldn’t want to be a guest at that wedding.

  It takes someone as genteel as Jim Cerone to put each of these senses into a manageable, specific list and I want to thank him for it.  It’s a great lesson to us all to keep our senses about us!

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