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Reply with quote  #1 
I thought about putting this in the Performing in a Pandemic forum, but I didn't want to limit it to that topic.

A week ago or so I began a thread about taking risks.  This is sort of the opposite of that, how to limit your risk.

Every time you agree to perform you are taking a certain amount of risk.  It cannot be avoided entirely.  However, it can nearly always be managed.

I began thinking about this topic the other day.  Scheduling events is difficult in the best of times and I'm sure the Covid-19 pandemic has only amplified the stess.

When I used to perform more regularly I always made sure to ask a bunch of questions in advance, just so there wouldn't be any misunderstandings.  It was also to prevent having to deal with obstacles to my performance at the last minute.

In some walks of life, last-minute changes aren't a big deal.  I don't know about you, but I like to have an expectation of how things are going to go.  It helps me to avoid stress.  Of course if things don't go according to plan, then it can be a bumpy ride.  When I have to think about a million other things it takes away from my performance.  Maybe I get through all of the tricks, but my preoccupation might cause me to shortchange the audience when it comes to the presentation, the interaction and all of the important things that help to entertain them.

So I made a mental checklist.  I would ask the same questions of any client.  

It's kind of like what they taught in journalism class.  There's the 5 W's,  Who, What, Where, When and Why.

1.  WHO:  Know your audience.  If you want to be the most effective you can be, you'll 
               want to tailor your performance to suit the audience.  There are a lot of 
               factors that can influence your choice of material.  Age is obviously one, but
               there are a lot more.

2.  WHAT:  What do they expect?  Is it a strolling gig?  Is it a wedding?  If so, with whom
                do you need to sit down with in advance so that you know what their expec-
                tations are.  Nothing looks worse than a performer getting in the way of the 
                flow of a meeting, a party or a wedding.  Know what they want and give it to
                them.  How long will you be expected to perform?  Make sure to bring more 
                effects than you predict you'll have time for because you might be surprised
                and suddenly need them.

3.  WHERE:  This is a big one and I don't just mean the address, although that is crucial.
                   But I also mean where, specifically, are you to perform.  Depending upon the
                   venue, if it is possible, you might want to scope it out in advance.  Again, 
                   you don't want to be upset by something you encounter which you might 
                   have had the opportunity to prepare for had you known beforehand.
                   Maybe they want you outside and some of your repertoire isn't conducive to                     that.  Perhaps the area they put you is noisy and all of the sudden your
                   cool patter isn't going to play so strongly.  Knowing that, you can plan on
                   focusing on visual tricks were patter enhances but doesn't carry the effect.

4.  WHEN:  Seems simple, yes?  Well, not if you run into traffic and are suddenly a half-
                 hour late.  Make sure you know how much time to budget for travel and then
                 add some "buffer" to it.  Worse case scenario is you arrive early, but you can
                 spend that time going over last-minute details and/or changes and be fresh 
                 and ready to go.  Again, I don't know about you, but the last thing I want is
                  to get somewhere late or just on time and be frazzled when I'm supposed to
                 perform.  The other thing about when is related to the what, but that is to
                 know when you are expected to be done.  Don't go on over your appointed
                 time unless specifically asked to do so.  If they want an encore, be happy to

5.  WHY:  The why is actually multi-faceted and it applies to the client as well as yourself.
               Make certain to understand that the customer wants.  What is their "why".  
               Spend time thinking about how best you can deliver on their "why".  Then, 
               remember your own why.  It might be to make money, but it also might be to
               work on some new material, to get some experience "under fire" so that you
               can evaluate an audience's reactions.  Just make sure your why and their why
               are compatible and you'll have a happy customer.

There's much more to say, I only wanted to get you thinking.  I'm hoping others can chime in with things they've learned when booking or performing.

And don't ever forget to follow up!  Ask them if they might have other events you might work in the future.  Ask them for a reference.  Will they be willing to give you a statement about your performance that you can use for promotional purposes?  How about industry contacts?  Do they know of anyone else you might contact that uses entertainers for events?  Make sure to tell them what a pleasure it was to perform for them.  All of these niceties are worth it and many times separate you from your "competition".  If this is an annual event, consider making a note in your calendar to contact them in 9 months or so to see if there's another opportunity.  

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Reply with quote  #2 
Well nobody has jumped in so I'm bumping the thread to include discussion about Zoom performances.  Just because the performances aren't face-to-face doesn't mean that some of the thoughts above don't apply.
Things to think about would include a lot of the same things as an "in person" show.

Some of the negative things I've seen on Zoom meetings (magic-related and not) could and should have been prevented with better planning and forethought.

Here are some "scattershot" thoughts in no order of importance.  Respect your audience!  Make sure the show goes on on time, and additionally, ends at the advertised time.  People are busy and if they've blocked out a portion of their day they expect that the presentation will fit into the allotted slot.  When it doesn't, either beginning late or running long, it throws the rest of their day out of whack.

Respect the performer!  The performer is hoping to do their best to entertain or educate, or whatever.  As an audience, there should be accomodation.  Things like muting audio streams should be expected but are often forgotten or ignored.  The performer, or better yet, the person responsible for hosting, should set the ground rules before the event and help to create the proper atmosphere.  

Have a drink, but don't drink too much!  Unless there will be time to visit the bathroom, make sure you take care of business before the event.  Yes, have a bottle of water or your favorite beverage, but don't overindulge.  The type of beverage will depend upon the event.  It is not wrong to drink an alcoholic beverage during some presentations, while it might be offensive at others.  Make sure which is which.

Have a plan in the event of technical difficulties.  They happen.  Knowing what you'd do in a given situation will prevent you from experiencing panic when they eventually do.  

Again, much more could be said.  I'd hoped this topic would generate some conversation.  Or at least some examples of things folks have encountered and how they dealt with them.
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