Make You a Better Performer
Marc Gunn - The Bard's Crier, July
Back to The
It's interesting to compare the articles written
on how to give an exciting speech with how to put on an exciting show. I have
not seen that many articles for musicians on that topic. Fortunately, the two
topics are fairly similar. So it is easy to transpose public speaking articles
to live gig articles.
Speech writers know that you have to grab the
audience's attention in 30 seconds. That's where you make your biggest impact.
If you ever see a musician get up on stage and fumble a "Hi. Um. We're the
Barnyard Owls," you know what I mean.
As musicians, we can grab the
audience's attention with a song. But it helps to think about other ways to
captivate your audience too.
Wasn't it KISS who used to shout, "Are you
ready to rock!" The phrase might sound cliche now, but it serves the point. KISS
knew you had to draw your audience in fast to make an impact and put on a great
Or perhaps you prefer non-verbal hooks. You can use a light show.
Or imagine band members quitely meditating next to their instruments before they
jump up and rock the house.
In one of the speech writing articles I
remember reading you should provide five 'Magic Moments'. Apparently, this is
something that movie promoters say is essential for a film to have a successful
ad campaign... that will make the movie a hit. That seems like good advice for a
live show too.
I remember seeing Ed Miller at the Texas Scottish
Festival last year. He is Scottish-born and told a story about how he had to
cross the Rio Grande illegally in the 60s to get back into the United States. It
made him feel like he too was a "Wetback". Then he sang the song telling the
story. My mind has a clear image of that day hearing that story. That was a
Magic Moment for me that still gives me chills thinking about it.
your Magic Moments might come from telling a story about the song like Ed Miller
did. Others might be the song itself. Is it chilling or powerful. Does it make
people cry, cheer, sway, or sing-a-long.
Sometimes the Magic Moment will
be the way you sing or move. I remember the first time I saw some "shoegazing"
and the first time someone ran up the side of a wall and did a flip. I remember
someone throwing a pen towards their sales table to encourage people to sign up
to their mailing list. I also remember meeting band members after a show when
they took the time to say, "Thanks. And your name is?"
Just like you
need a great intro, you also need a great Closer. Boy, I'm guilty of having bad
closers. We end all of our shows with a sing-a-long of Monty Python's "Always
Look on the Bright Side of Life". It's a great closer, but too often, the
show is over and the audience is still hanging around thinking there will be
more to come.
Obviously, I'm not the person to give advice on this topic.
So create your own closer. I've seen the unified bow of the band members; the
strong and simple, "Thank you and good night!"; or band members running through
the audience to accept tips. There are still a lot of different
There are a lot of similarities between live shows and
public speaking. I'd suggest you read some articles on how to write a speech and
see what they have to say on the topic. You may be surprised at just how easily
those techniques will give you a live show.
Bard Marc Gunn of the
Brobdingnagian Bards has helped 1000's of
musicians make money with their musical groups through the Bards Crier Music Marketing and Promotion
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