What is an MC?

I make a living talking into a microphone. I have always been comfortable talking to crowds, and while I had never taken any formal training on microphone work or MC-ing, I thought I presented confidently and knew what it meant to be an MC. People always told me what a great MC I was, so I figured they must be right. While I certainly had natural talent, and have improved immensely over the years, I now feel that journey has only just begun.

I learned about “Marbecca” from the first Mobile Beat (DJ conference) I attended. Mark Ferrell was giving his final keynote address on what a DJ is worth. He was brought to tears as he said goodbye to an industry that had given him so much, and in return, they gave him a standing ovation. Fortunately for me, Mark and Rebecca continued to host their MC workshops so that they could pass on that legacy and continue raising the standard for entertainers everywhere.
When I picked up the microphone for my first attempt in front of Mark, Rebecca, and the 5 other professional DJs in attendance my heart started racing – as if I had never held a microphone in my life. Not only did I have to perform in front of my experienced peers but I had to get up and MC in front of a titan of the industry. I gave my introduction, and Mark tore me apart – nicely. He said I had to let my audience catch up with me, slow down, and not use my “DJ voice”. “DJ VOICE? What is a DJ Voice? I am a DJ for god’s sake, aren’t I supposed to use a DJ voice?” I thought to myself.

I asked for clarification and Mark told me that there are actually three different types of voices a person can use when they are on a microphone. One is used to announce (using a DJ voice), one is used to tell a story, and one is used when the speaker functions as a Master of Ceremonies. The way he said Master of Ceremonies made it clear that it was something entirely different than what I had assumed my entire career. He carried on with his presentation and provided us with the dictionary definition of a “Master” and a “Ceremony”. He clarified that a true Master of Ceremonies is someone versed in all ceremonies and masterful in the execution of them. They are someone who presents with poise, speaks clearly, confidently, and with intention. A true Master of Ceremonies knows their audience, is approachable, and above all they have to be genuine. For years I had used the word “MC” so casually as an extension of the title DJ, and I didn’t give it the weight that it deserved. I thought any DJ that can talk on a microphone must be an MC by definition. While that is somewhat true, Mark and Rebecca showed us that we could be so much more.

I noticed that something had changed in my first conversation with a client after I took the workshop. I was asking questions I wouldn’t normally ask, trying to understand why the bride chose her maid of honor. What about that relationship was special – so I could personalize my introduction for the Maid of Honor’s toast when the moment arrived. It felt a bit strange and perhaps too personal at first, but after all, I am introducing an important person to my bride and groom’s guests at their wedding. I think personal is the point. When I implemented what I had learned from the workshop at an actual wedding, everything Mark and Rebecca said in that small room in Phoenix rang truer. I got one of the loudest receptions in my career for my bride and groom’s introduction, and for the first time I felt like more than a DJ/MC. I felt like a true Master of Ceremonies.

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