How to get out of a DJ Trap!

The number one issue all DJs have and most refuse to address.

I have worked hard for years to understand the audience and what makes them tick. While a particular DJ or Emcee may have a great personality or energy, they most likely lack an understanding of the one deficit this article will help to solve. They choose to put themselves in bondage at the onset of an event in a way they don’t realize while destroying any chances that the audience will indeed respond they way intended. In other words, the DJ becomes trapped.

I define a trap as a question you ask to the audience or a throwaway comment that does not deliver maximum audience participation. For example, you may walk in front of an audience and ask, “Who is ready to have a good time tonight?” While you innocently think you are getting a large degree of audience response, you have failed to realize that you just trapped yourself. Likewise, if you ever say the word please to an audience, the same trap occurs. Let’s analyze why this trap fails in the first place then I will help you stop this behavior immediately.

Why is it a trap?

The reason comments like, “Who is ready to have a good time?” is a trap is that it creates a deep unconscious reaction in most people. In a person’s mind, they can answer no, or “not me.” When this happens, audience participation diminishes. The reason is that you gave the entire group a chance to opt out of your call to question. You created a moment of indecision which most likely caused you next to say, “I can’t hear you. I said, Who is ready to have a good time tonight?” By the second call, the audience is even more diminished, and you are losing them. But you could have avoided this.

The same applies to the word “please”. When many of us were children, our parents created a “magic word” and called it PLEASE. If we wanted something, we had to say the magic word in the name of respect and kindness. Then, as we aged a bit, we were told NO often, even after asking with "PLEASE!" In essence, we were taught, “You don’t always get what you want.”, and that embedded itself into our minds. Now when someone says, “Will you please stand?” all we hear is, “NO, you don’t always get what you want Mr. DJ.”

Where this came from

It was around 1993 when I started another chapter in my entertainment journey at a place called Excalibur in Chicago. It was then when I began to look at performance and audience engagement as a science rather than a situation based on luck. Each night after my show ended, I would head home to review the video of our show, and I worked tirelessly to improve the interaction. This nightly discovery taught me three steps to turn these traps into compelling disruptive audience engagement solutions.

1) Say what you mean and be direct. – The first step in getting yourself out of a trap is to write down more the correct engagement statement and directions you need to give the audience. For example, when you say to an audience, “Who is ready to have a good time?” what are you attempting to do? I guess you would answer, “I want them to make noise.” Ok. Good! But then, how can you say this to an audience AND get maximum engagement? I suggest rewording this to be an action. “Ok. Everyone focus on me. I will count to three, and you all make as much noise as possible. And if it’s not loud enough, I will start over until we get it right.” If you remember in the Focus lesson earlier, I talk about how to control this element. By stating your intention and desire, the audience is far more likely to respond.

2) Focus on the outcome of your statement. – As you are writing these new statements, I also suggest you write the common traps you say frequently. Then create the outcome you desire from those statements. This way, as you change them, you will see even better results and better commands that every audience will enjoy.

3) Redirect a trap to get rid of it. – Lastly, for those pesky Traps you learned a long time ago, you will need a tool to stop using them. Here is my simple way to achieve that, thus “untrapping” yourself. The next time you say something like, “If you feel good say yea!”, immediately stop yourself and redirect with your newly written commands. Here is my suggestion. “If you feel good say yea!, wait….I can see you and know that you will feel good tonight. We have a great show prepared. So, to get us started, everyone yell, scream and clap on three. 1,2,3!” This way you have changed the dynamic and used your trap to make a new weapon in your work to impress the audience.

Todd Mitchem