Also, don’t forget about that moment when you can reach an audience at a deeper emotional level. The placement of that particular effect or routine is as critical as “when to let them know who you are.” Here are some excerpts of a rather lengthy article I wrote about it some time ago:
Connecting with your audiences is crucial. And in my opinion, a proven way to strive for that is to perform a routine that captures people's hearts. There is an old saying that goes: "People may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel." Just imagine how much more memorable your presentations will be if you can touch the audience on a deeper level.
Much has been written on how to routine a show. You usually start with a warm-up, then perform a "knock-out" opener. Follow with effects which involve the audience as a whole, as well as routines with individual audience volunteers. You'll save your solo "killer" routine for second-to-last, and finish with a big finale. But where do you put that emotional routine (the one people will remember you for)?
In my music career I've been blessed to work at the very highest level, performing with major recording stars in all sorts of venues. From clubs to theaters, TV broadcasts, stadiums, casinos and open-air shows for anything from 1,000 to 120,000 people.
Whether it was with Peter Frampton, The Mamas And The Papas, John Waite or Ace Frehley, we always thought long and hard about the content of our program. Song placement is vitally important in a live performance. Just think about it: if the momentum drops, you lose the audience's focus. No matter how big or famous your personality, if there is a lull or awkward moment of any kind, it becomes very, very hard to recapture an audience.
So how do you structure a show? Obviously, you start with a bang; playing something upbeat and familiar to the audience. The most famous songs are reserved for near the end and the encores. But where do you put that emotionally-laden power ballad?
For example, with The Mamas And The Papas (for whom I was musical director and pianist), the most familiar hit songs were "Monday Monday" and "California Dreaming." But we also had to make room for "Dedicated To The One I Love." A beautiful ballad like that affects people emotionally. But it also brings the tempo down, and thus calms the audience's mood. In essence, you break down the excitement of the show to insert an inspiring moment. This allows you to touch people's emotions. Then you gradually create excitement again, building to a rousing climax with your most memorable songs. For lack of a better expression, let's call this technique our "bring 'em down, build 'em up" moment.
I have found that in a music concert, the right place for this type of ballad is about 3/4 of the way through the show. And this relates to magic or clown performances in exactly the same way. The right place for that emotion-filled, inspiring skit or routine is about 3/4 of the way through your presentation.
You may ask, "Why do I need an emotional skit or routine?" Because that is what people will remember forever. There's nothing worse than seeing a magician do a series of store-bought tricks, one after the other, with no thought for how to involve the audience. Sad to say, I've seen some pretty well-known magicians happily performing their tricks, totally unaware that they weren't connecting with their audience. Clients have actually told me afterwards they will not invite such a performer back.
So, just to recap, you start your show with a strong routine. Keep the momentum up with other interesting pieces. When you're about 3/4 of the way through, you'll perform your inspirational skit. This is our "bring 'em down" moment, because this routine changes the pace of the show. After giving the audience that "warm and fuzzy" experience, you then re-build the excitement ("build 'em up"), and finish with your final, most impressive routine.
To lead back to Mike’s comments, you may even consider merging the “letting them know who you are” moment with the “touching them emotionally” moment. How powerful would that be?