Church MC and being number one on Google

The internet is a strange place. One of the most constantly hit on posts on my blog has to do with being Church Master of Ceremonies or “Church MC”. You can read the full text of the original post here. It’s not a particularly great post. In fact the comments on the post flesh out more fully, what good MCing looks like. Bernie also recently posted some thoughts as well

Even if MCing a church isn’t something you think you’ll ever do, many of the tips in my original post apply universally to any form of public speaking. So for all the people Googleing “church mc” and “ getting my blog take note. Here is another shot at advice on being an awesome MC.

Confidence - This would be one of the things that I notice the most. A confident MC will make the people in the audience feel comfortable. The MC needs to bear in mind that leading confidently allows the audience to consciously or unconsciously relax, and begin to feel at home. Confidence involves what you wear, how to speak and your body language. Often one will follow the other. If you dress well, the general rule is that  behavior also lifts up a few notches. Part of being confident is to start strong.

What you wear - I always dress smartly if I’m MCing. This has an affect on how you are perceived. Ever wondered why most newsreaders always wear ties? Wondered why there aren’t many young men who read news... it’s all about perception and trust. As a minimum I recommend a shirt and shoes. If you’re going to wear a tee shirt make sure it’s a nice one. If you don’t know what “nice” is then a collared shirt is your home base.

How you speak - Speak clearly. Don’t use slang especially Christian slang. Make sure you can be heard at the back of the room. Practice before hand if necessary. Speaking with confidence sometimes involves “acting” the part. If you make a mistake it’s better to make it a big bold one. Don’t use words that visitors might not understand. Christian MCs are particularly guilty of this throwing round big words that are unnecessary.

Body Language - Use open not closed body language. Closed body language is defensive. Arms crossed is a key example. Use gestures. The bigger the space the stronger and bigger the gestures will need to be. Own the space it’s yours. You are the one steering the ship. 

Clarity - One of the things that I get most annoyed about is “fill” language. For example “So ummm errrr yeah we’re going to pray now so let’s ummmm talk to God...”. Nearly everyone does it often out of nervousness. It’s much better if you’re praying just say “Let’s Pray” then pause for a moment then start. It’s not necessary to explain why we pray, or what we’re praying for. Ninety nine percent of the time it is completely self evident. If you have planned beforehand what you want to say this can easily be avioded. Have it written down if necessary.

You will always speak for longer than you think you do. People will always get bored before you notice they bored. Don’t talk for too long. Practice what you are going to say in front of the mirror or on location if possible. I said it before don’t use Christian jargon. Always remember the outsider or person who might be new needs to understand what you’re talking about.

Feedback - Feedback is important. A good MC should ask for and welcome feedback. No-one MCs perfectly. We’re all in the business of getting better. It can be helpful to provide a short pro-forma to someone listening can access your MCing and suggest improvements (while also telling what you’re good at).

Feel free to add more in the comments to be forever immortalised on the internet.


You’re a whinging old person, you just don’t know it yet

“Music just isn’t the same as it used to be,” moans Facebook.
“Back in my day the music was so much better... I don’t know what the world is coming to.”

I disagree. My central thesis is that personal music taste has to move, adapt, and evolve, reflecting that music, and musical taste is fluid, changing over time. This means what is “good” or worth listening to changes over time, as new music is released. To close your mind to this is to risk being an old bore, who moans after “the classics” not realising this is exactly what their parents and grandparents did before them.

Behind this moan, is the danger of each new generation seeing its interpretation of the world and music as superior to what has gone before, and what will come in the future. Therefore, what I think is best... is best... Not realising that what is “best” is more likely to be centered around a particular point in time, most likely during the late formative teenage years and early adulthood.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t a place for classic and enduring songs (I strongly believe there is) rather that this list is ever growing as new musical styles etc are discovered. As listeners we need to be open to hearing new music, and dare I say learning to like what is new. Quick pop quiz when was the last time you “liked” a new song or band that was released in the last 12 months? (I’m not talking about U2 and Coldplay. They are bands for old people). When did you last find a new piece of music to buy?

I’m not suggesting you run out and buy the latest number one hit far from it. History teaches us that what is and what is good don’t always go hand in hand. Far better to seek to educate yourself especially if you don’t have good taste (which I don’t). Ask people around you especially if they’re younger, ask them why they like what they do. Be open to listening to things that you don’t like, seem childish, feel uncomfortable or stupid. Be open minded to being persuaded, suspend judgement until you’ve heard a song a number of times. Even be prepared to read lyrics and bios on Wikipedia and the like before making a conclusion. Read music reviews from people who know about these kind of things there’s truckloads of them on the internet. Expand. Your. Mind.

You need to do this, otherwise you risk sounding like another old person who sits in judgement over all generations before and after you. The danger is you could end up being a whinging old person without knowing it.