Performance critique from an independent observer
One of the challenges of working alone is that it is hard to self-critique. Getting independent and unbiased critique of one’s performance and service is essential if one is to identify strengths, weaknesses and habits (both good or bad), so that improvements can be made. Critique, although challenging and at times unpleasant, is vital.
At a recent wedding at Stoneridge in Queenstown, I provided a full array of service, including ceremony sound, cocktails & canapés music, personalised introductions for the wedding party, a Love Story introduction for the newly-weds, full Master of Ceremonies (MC) services and then DJ service from the fun first dance until the finish of the night. All this was after I had met with the couple, liaised with the venue and gone through my usual wedding pre-planning.
I was fortunate enough to know someone in attendance whom I knew could give me an unbiased critique of my performance on the day. I knew this person from work some years earlier and knew her to be thorough, particular, direct and honest enough to let me know if something I said or did wasn’t up to par. It’s often only by knowing that I’m doing something wrong that I can improve it, so I asked for a critique. Here’s what she wrote:
Critique: DJ Richard/MC
Richard, let me preface this by saying you asked me for my opinion at your latest function at Stoneridge Estate in Queenstown as a ‘lay’ person.
From the start when you arrived and started setting up you discovered a few minor technical/logistical issues which you told me about and were wondering how to fix. Nobody else would have known about them and even though I did, I still didn’t witness you getting in a flap about it. Sure you found it frustrating but you worked through it all and managed to ‘fix’ everything and no one will ever know there was any issue to begin with.
Your relationship with the staff at the venue speaks volumes. Clearly they respect you as you respect them and this can only bode well. Clearly you inspire the respect of those you work with as you understand what they bring also. They want to help you and that says a lot.Your personality inspires a fun, I’ve got it under control attitude.
Let’s jump to the ceremony. Although you weren’t in your capacity as MC yet or even DJ you were providing the ambient music for the chapel. The power wasn’t working but you calmly sorted it out with a phone call, directed the ladies to the bathroom and chatted to the celebrant all at the same time. Multi-tasking at its best! Your personality inspires a fun, I’ve got it under control attitude. Even for me being with you seeing all the things that were challenging you (technically) I had complete faith that you would sort it out. Others had no idea that anything was even wrong and that is key.
Back to the venue where the guests would be arriving soon after the ceremony, issues with one of your lights having a fan attack, you showed kiwi ingenuity and attacked it with a phillips-head screwdriver and sorted the problem.
However, I guess you really want to know what I thought of your performance once all the excitement of technical issues were done.
Your voice is very commanding but in a friendly, take-charge tone. People have to stop and listen. When you started the crowd seemed a little resistant to your humour, a little stiff perhaps but you continued on with the theme and they started to soften a little. Some in the crowd seemed a little unsure how to respond. However they started to loosen up. My advice is, keep going with it unless it seems like a complete failure.
I observed some people smiling, others not sure what to do and to be honest I think it’s purely because they were not used to an MC being so free/amenable with people only they know, but the bride and groom know exactly who they have hired. What you were saying was interesting and fun although if there’s one thing I could say here for the “fun facts of what happened on this day in history” was that it could have been a lot shorter.
A history lesson is fun but when it goes on for too long people (such as myself with a short attention span) start to lose interest. You have to make it short and snappy. I would have started at a later date (maybe JFK) and maybe left out the birthdays except for Justin Bieber! Simply because he’s been in the headlines lately and unless people are living under a rock they would have heard that so it’s about keeping it relevant, succinct and in the now.
I have to say in your defence the crowd seemed a little dry in patches and it was quite a small wedding and initially I was a little concerned because the venue had left out the armchairs and sofa which can often split a crowd, not to mention that there were a lot of smokers so there was a potential for there to be a scattered audience.
The ‘Grand Entrance’ was very well done and I’m only saying this because I know you were trying out something new that night with an iPad app so you will expect it as I said to you on the night, you needed 3 hands so either a lapel microphone or as you said a stand and I will defer to your experience here as you said lapel microphones can interfere with the speakers. However from my point of view it worked well considering you also did it with a groom (and bride) who are perfectionists. I think doing this having the wedding party appear one by one and have a wee story told about them was genius. Even though it put that person in the spotlight you did it with such good humour they could only laugh not take offence.
Once we moved passed the grand entrance, I have to say your attention to instructing the groom, bride and others was amazing. I’ve personally never seen anything like that and I would totally want somebody like you at my wedding. I actually don’t think there would be many people that could say “I’m your MC for the night and later will be your DJ’. Personally I think that is awesome.
You were on the move all night, making sure everything was working, how things sounded, that people were doing what they were supposed to do. You handled the groom’s precise requests, kept an eye on everyone, read the crowd and liaised with the staff and the photographer.
When it came to speeches, I know you had instructed them all about what to do…but you can only lead a horse to water. Most horses behaved well and you controlled it well by grabbing the microphones off them in good time. You controlled it well.
Your interaction with the crowd is great and you had them dancing from “Dancing Queen” after the couples’ First Dance, which WAS AWESOME!! Holy heck they did a good job. They’re clearly not comfortable doing that kind of dancing but they did a very good job.
I have to sign off with; I’m sorry but you’re an awesome MC and an even better DJ (and when I say even better I don’t mean that literally.) I would have you as my DJ any day.
I’m sorry if you were looking for lots of bad feedback, but I can’t give it. I’ve tried. I can only give what I think and given that I’m the general public I hope you listen to me. If you want other constructive feedback you probably want another DJ.
You do a fantastic job. Your personality is a huge thing! Work it!
I’m sorry I can’t say anything negative other than what you’ve read above. What you do is awesome. I would have you at an event any day.
I think she was bang-on with the history bit at the start, and I’m pleased I was able to give the couple and their guests (including her) such a memorable celebration.