A while back I said I would share some tips to better connect with your audience. Whether your audience means belly dancing for restaurant patrons, creating paintings for art aficionados or pitching a new marketing plan at work, connecting with your audience is sooo important!
For now I’ll focus on belly dance land, but who knows, maybe some of these could applied in a different way elsewhere.
Know Your Audience
The first key to connecting with your audience is…to know who they are! If you’re making a presentation to a group who expects A and you present B, your presentation may not be as effective. How can you do this in a belly dance gig setting? You can usually figure this out in the first set, if not your first song.
My first task is to enter the room with a big smile and a “Woohoo! I’m here!” after you’ve got the audience’s attention, you can start to scan the room to see who is really interested and who just looked up because they heard weird music come on. Are there big groups? Is it someone’s birthday? Excited kiddos? Is that lady with her husband scowling at you? Maaaybe don’t go that way so much. You may even find out that some of your audience is Turkish or Greek, giving you a way to select music they might enjoy on a different set.
Look for the people that have their phone out and are already taking pictures or video. Position yourself across from them and drop to the level of the person sitting across from the picture taker. Maybe mess with them a little. The person with the camera is not going to miss that Kodak moment!
The Young and Young at Heart
Kiddos are the best! Kids are a sure way to get your audience to smile. Ask them if they want to dance with you if they’re wiggling in their seat. Even if they’re not, they may jump up anyway. Younger children and babies love sparkle and bright colors, making another photo op for mom and dad!
It’s not just the little ones who are wiggling in their chairs, the adults wanna have fun too! A lot of those folks will get up and play along with you or at least just shimmy in their seats. If you think your target, er, customer will go for it, you can lasso them with your veil. Even if you can’t get them to get out of their chair, you can still play with the veil a bit. If they do get up, even better. You can tie your veil into a hip scarf and let them shake it!
What If Nobody Wants to Dance?
If you’re not comfortable doing this kind of stuff, don’t worry, it takes time, practice and super people reading skills. Even if you’ve gotten pretty good at this, you still may not be able to get anyone to play with you. That’s where your friend eye-contact comes in. Blechh. Yeah, I know it’s hard (it is for me anyway!). But again, this takes practice, practice, practice. Maybe just pick one person out of a group, then try to look at different groups. Find a place to make a silly face (just make sure no one is taking your picture-see example above LOL) or flash a big smile; this usually gets them clapping or laughing with you.
So all of this is fine for a restaurant audience, but what about on a stage? Well, that’s a little different. And something I’m still working on. Heck, I’m still working on the regular gig thing! You can still use your friend eye-contact, and your facial expressions can add a lot. Just don’t overdo it 😉 Anyway, just my thoughts on the subject. What are your tips?