Ad-libbing is the art of improvising. It reflects the ability to spout words and phrases in a natural and spontaneous way. It is truly these ‘off the cuff’ remarks that separate the professional speaker from the amateur.
An excellent way to develop this talent is to practice off the cuff speaking at home. Choose a topic and just speak freely for half a minute. Take a short break, find another topic and speak again for 30 seconds. It doesn’t have to be about anything significant. You can give speeches on rocks, alcohol, rip tides, snakes, hallucinating … anything … all that matters is that you don’t plan. Force yourself to create a speech spontaneously.
Initially, you’ll probably find yourself unable to come up with more than two or three lines for each topic, but often, within just a few speeches, you learn to loosen up and find that your mind and words begin to flow freely. Eventually, it’ll be an effort just to stop yourself at the 30 second mark.
As a DJ, part of connecting with your audience (aside from the speeches and doing requests) will involve conversing with them sporadically throughout the show. Adlibbing is an important way to bridge the gap between the mixing desk and the dance floor. But remember, always be brief, light hearted and relevant. Talk about the songs, the venue, the audience, yourself, maybe share a funny anecdote that’s relevant to the event or song.
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As important as ad-libbing and spontaneity are it doesn’t hurt to memorise a few one-liners to throw into the mix. Said correctly, they sound natural and lend themselves easily to the entertainment environment (incidentally, one liners don’t have to be jokes or even funny).
Some one one-liner staples:
• Anyway, lets get on with the show
• I just thought I’d throw that in
• Wasn’t that worth waiting for!
• Have a drink on me
• Well it’s that time again
• Too much of a good thing is wonderful
• Age is a high price to pay for maturity
Come up with your own ideas. Your one-liners are more likely to sound natural if they are in line with your personality – Are you quirky, dry, a little off-the-wall? Dry? A little off-the-wall? Your creative process will reflect this, making the one-liners you come up with more in tune with your personality. So invent. But be careful, the idea of one- liners does not sit or fit well with everyone.
You really have to be a great communicator and presenter to be able to fully capitalise on this area, but if you’ve got what it takes, wow, you’re going to make great money.
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