In the culinary world we are taught to hone our knives every time we use them. A quick run across the honing stone enables your knife to easily go right through a ripe tomato. It is really all about maintenance and keeping your tools effective. I feel this same sharpening habit goes for your talents. Last month I had the opportunity to return to school and take a unique MC Skills Workshop in Las Vegas where we learned what makes great speakers and presenters.
Workshops and seminars for self-improvement are quite common. However, emcee/MC/ master of ceremonies skills are often learned innately or stem from acting, film, television or drama disciplines. Fortunately, my good friends, Mark and Rebecca Ferrell, have produced several workshops for disc jockeys who seek to improve their MC skills. The Ferrells are well qualified to teach this workshop because they come from an extensive entertainment background including Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, as well as television, radio and voice over work. They created The Love Story concept in 1989 for their wedding clients and have been teaching the Marbecca Method to entertainers all over the United States and Canada. You can follow them on their blog at Mark Ferrell.com.
The Marbecca Method training is both intimate and intense. I was one of only six students in this small meeting room at Hilton Homewood Suites in Henderson, Nevada. The tables were strategically positioned to optimize communication between everyone.
And then there was the dreaded camcorder. Yes, the only way to see your mistakes and watch your improvements is video. It was constantly rolling and revealing every little nuance you want to see and many you'd rather not see. In this shot I am on the hot seat with somewhat of a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face while Mark seems to be chuckling at the footage.
Part of our training included watching many examples of speakers. Time and again the best example of great MC work we witnessed was Marc Summers. Marc is the quintessential Master of Ceremonies. Marc hosts a show called Unwrapped on my favorite channel, The Food Network, where you can enjoy his amazing speaking skills weekly.
An important part of being the Master of Ceremonies is to have a working knowledge of the ceremonies themselves. There is much folklore and history that has made ceremonies endure over hundreds of years. We took turns role playing as bridal couples while each of us explained these traditions in our announcements. It could have been the intensity or just the moment but I decided humor was the best medicine when it was my turn to play the bride so I turned a napkin into a veil for that shabby chic look. I am posing here over the cake cutting with my new "hubby" Glen Bacarro who traveled all the way from Ontario, Canada to take the workshop.
This parting shot is our graduating class. Some came from as far away as Australia and England just to improve their skills. Our sincere thanks goes out to Mark and Rebecca for sharing their many years of experience with us. I learned an awful lot about MC skills from this workshop. It also reminded me just how important it is to never stop learning. Even if you think you've mastered everything, then get outside your comfort zone and take on the challenge of a brand new skill where you are the rookie. The learning curve will be exhilarating and it will jump start your senses. After all, it is never too late to learn and hone your brain cells.