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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mark Ferrell's Master of Ceremonies Workshop

This post is continued from the previous "Shout of Mouth with Mark Ferrell" post:

Well, a few days later Ron Grandia sent me a message saying there was a space left in Mark Ferrell's Master of Ceremonies Workshop, for me! He had talked to Rebecca and I was welcome to sign up even though I'm not a professional Mobile DJ. I found out later I was the first non-DJ to ever take one of Mark's workshops!

This is what I want everyone to understand and know, both brides and grooms and professionals alike: Being an MC is a big deal. Simply being a DJ and owning a microphone does not make someone a qualified MC any more than "owning" a frying pan makes someone a chef. There are many technical skills involved and to the credit of everyone who took the workshop alongside me, they were all putting themselves through this process to become better than they were. It would have been easy for any of them to coast and say "I've been a DJ for X number of years, I don't need to learn how to become a better MC." But everyone in that room really put in the dedication to their craft by making the investment and taking two full days to work with Mark and Rebecca.

Because Carl Mindling had previously taken this workshop and blogged it, I knew what lay in store. He described it on his blog as "intimate and intense." And he was right.

That's Carl Mindling on screen doing his best impersonation of Charlie Brown's "AAUGH" pose during the workshop last week.

The Master of Ceremonies Workshop centers on learning the structural elements of different types of announcements, good language and speaking skills, correct posture and body movement, microphone skills, etiquette and many other elements that separate the true professionals from those who feel what they offer their clients as an MC is "good enough." I'm sure there are a few lucky DJ's who, because they have backgrounds in entertainment or are forunate enough to possess the skills innately, already know how be a great MC. For the rest of us, DJ or not, being willing to learn is essential in not allowing ourselves to settle for "good enough."

What I loved most is that the MarBecca method is based on sincerity and authenticity, basically just being yourself. It's not the place to go if you're trying to create a "persona" or "personality" with a distinctive radio DJ voice. As it turns out only Radio DJ's need to sound like Radio DJ's. Rich Amooi, another DJ on the Flirty Guide does work at a radio station and I love hearing him on the air. I'm sure his clients want and expect him to sound just like he does on the radio when he performs at their weddings. That's cool. But for those who have never been a professional radio DJ, to sound like one is nothing more than an affectation.

I knew the workshop consisted of some lecture and "on video" camera time and that I would have to go to a podium, give an intro (as it turned out, over and over while being recorded) and then (here's the fun part) Mark, Rebecca, and even the group, would critique my performance. *Gulp* So am I some kind of masochist? Maybe... No, just kidding it was actually a lot of fun because we were all able to laugh at our mistakes and learn from them at the same time. I signed up because I wanted to evolve, hopefully to the point that I could gain some confidence, learn how to feel comfortable speaking in front of a group, connect with my audience and learn basic microphone skills.

When I've given presentations in the past I usually tremble and shake, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, and feel like my heart is going to explode. Luckily for me, nobody can tell because I don't look terrified and when nervous I speak more slowly instead of too fast. I didn't expect to do well being in a room full of professional DJ's and I hoped, that knowing I was completely green, they would be kind. Oooooh it was hard. My knees were shaking so badly the first day that it's a wonder they weren't bruised from knocking into each other. They probably would have been if I weren't so bowlegged. LOL. Mark said that being nervous is good because it means you care and that gives you an edge. I assured him I had PLENTY of edge.

That was me being critiqued on the big screen.

So how did I do? Well for starters I think my worst faults were that I was memorizing my intros when really, they should have been more spontaneous. I was a little off balance on one take bearing more weight on one foot then the other so it made me look lopsided. I definitely wasn't relaxing my face and smiling enough. The funniest part was that I made a really horrible grimace after each presentation once I thought the camera had been turned off. But, LOL, the joke was on me because it wasn't and he showed me exactly what that grimace looked like. The odd thing was that I didn't even realize I had made a face until I saw it up on screen during the critique.

And then to top things off I dropped Mark Ferrell's magic mic. The mic he had used his entire career as a mobile DJ. Yup, I put the mic on the podium ledge but not the cord so as I turned away to go back to my seat there was a very audible *thud* when his mic hit the ground. *SO embarrassing*

Eeek gads here is a screenshot of the first intro I attempted in the class. I told you I made an awful grimace when I was done, well there it is. And check out my posture. It doesn't scream confidence does it?

Once he showed me how bad the first grimace looked I was able to control myself a bit by the time I tried out my second intro that day. Better, but still not anywhere close to good.

Listening to Mark he reminded me a lot of The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan. His calm and assertive energy was exactly what I needed to overcome my fear of speaking in public. Day one was absolutely grueling. My fear level was so high I felt like I was almost having a full blown anxiety attack. On day 2 I took a different approach. I channeled Cesar and imagined there were frightened dogs sitting in front of me that needed me to be calm to help them and guess what, it worked! My fear level dissipated pretty quickly and on day two I was able to enjoy the learning process. It gave me a ton of confidence and I know moving forward I'll be just fine the next time I give a presentation.

What a difference a day makes! Here I am on day 2 just wrapping up my sixth introduction. Can you even believe the difference in my confidence from the day before? I was shocked when I saw the playback.

To top it off Mark taught me this nifty trick where you take the mic and quickly but carefully tuck it in your arm pit so that you can immediately applaud for the person you just introduced.

I want to thank everyone who was there: Mark, Rebecca, Michael, Carl, Mike, Robert, Randy and Jody. The encouragement and support I received from all of you definitely made the whole thing come together for me.

At the end of the day I would say I gave it my all and, surprisingly, was able to hold my own with the DJ's. I would recommend The Master of Ceremonies Workshop to anyone who ever speaks into a microphone whether they're a DJ or a Wedding Coordinator or any other professional who does public speaking on a regular or semi-regular basis like myself.

Honestly, the investment I made to take this workshop is on my short list of the best things I've ever done for myself.


You can check out MarkFerrell.com for scheduled workshops and seminars in your area. If there isn't a MarBecca Master of Ceremonies Workshop scheduled in your area (they travel nationwide) you should drop Mark and Rebecca an email and let them know you're interested and if you're lucky, they'll schedule a workshop where you live. Even better, round up 7 colleagues and let them know you have a booked class waiting for them.

Photos provided by: Mark and Rebecca (I was too busy learning to take pictures. LOL)


  1. That is so cool!!! I have take Mark's MC workshop twice and I can STILL use it again. Thanks for your blog! What an awesome way to spread the word.

  2. My pleasure Robert and thanks for the comment. Needless to say I am now a HUGE MarBecca fan!

  3. Congratulations Stacie! You are a real champion for taking the Marbecca MC Workshop. You really look like a rock star in your after pictures. Mark & Rebecca are great people and excellent sharers of knowledge. It's so great you had a chance to be a part of their work. Thank you.

  4. Thanks Peter,

    I'm very much looking forward to taking the silver level the next time Mark and Rebecca are in town!

  5. Definitely will be linking to your post from my "MC Page." Back in 2008, Peter Merry directed me to take Mark's workshop as a preparatory step to filing my WED Guild application. Mark's personality and presentation are so impressive, I like to brag I'm not only a proponent of the Marbecca method, but fancy myself as a veritable ambassador. Mark is a VERY lovable guy—spontaneous, witty, clever, and his MC workshop is nothing short of inspirational. Thanks for this really fun and informative post!


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