Ultimate Performance Tips #3: Start With The End In Mind

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Now that you have a good idea of what your story is and who your intended audience will be, its time for the magic to start building lasting relationships with your audiences.


Simon Sinek in his book "Start With Why" focuses us on not what we want to achieve but why we want to achieve it. To really engage with an audience over the long term on a personal level, they need to believe in not what you’re doing, but why you are doing it. From 15 second TikToks to full 90 minute live music performances, there may be many types of performances you want to develop. With how you’re posting videos online or planning for shows, there needs to be a sort of rhythm to your content that reveals this question to your audience. Why am I here? Are you you just going to make me laugh for a second or give me something to come back to again and again.

Planning for a show to connect and engage with people isn’t Rocket Science. It’s really about a shared experience and loving the people who came to see you. The reality is most artists think like artists and don’t see their performances from an audience's point of view. Most audiences barely even know the detail put into creating a live performance.

Now when you go to see an award show, you always see an artist accepting their awards and thanking their fans. They love their fans and there is an established relationship there, a connection. In his book “The Music Lesson,” by Victor Wooten he describes an energy that connects all beings and that music, the mother of all sciences, is that energy. A well known artist can literally walk to the edge of the stage and talk for 30 minutes without the audience making a sound. The audience is married to that artist. They bought the ticket, made the investment, and can be moved by the slightest direction of a hand. Now music has that ability all by itself. But you have to know the right triggers to get people to connect first.

What I want you to think about before developing your show is every new audience doesn’t have that kind of relationship with you yet. You’re just starting a relationship with them. Most of you taking this course are still growing with your audiences. Whether your planning a series of engaging posts or a live music experience, you need to take your audience on a journey.

“The Live Music Method,” by Tom Jackson, reflects on this chemistry as sort of a dating relationship with your audience. In the beginning of a relationship you don’t want to over exaggerate your feelings for the other person or just let things fall flat. Imagine if you were too over the top on your first date with someone, they’re not going to want to share another experience with you after that. No, when you’re planning your show, you want to play it safe in the beginning so the relationship has somewhere to grow.

The first thing you need to understand about building your live performance is why are people coming to see you? As we discussed before, It is a need to feel connected. Either through a series of social media posts or in your live performances, you need to take your audience on a journey so they feel like they are developing a relationship with you. Your focus should never be on one point of engagement or performance. You need to think about the lifetime relationship you’re building with your audience and how each segment, each moment, connects to the bigger picture. This is a dating game!

So why do people come out to a live show or engage on social media with artists? My friend Bram Bessoff of indiehitmaker.com always says, "they want to be captured, they want to be engaged, and ultimately they want to have their lives changed." Starting with the end in mind means focusing on building a long term relationship with your audience through thoughtfully crafted engaging moments that connects you to them.

A second thing to think about is how people engage with you at first when they tune in online or come out to see your live performance. In a live venue you walk in and the first thing you’re going to be distracted by is someone else talking or a sports game on a television that can distract you. Similarly in someone's home there are other distractions like family, text messages, and the television that can pull someone away from a virtual event. Unfortunately most audiences are only going to be focused on about 15% of what you’re singing or saying in the beginning of your performance. 30% of the initial experience is going to be the audience sizing you up as a person. This can be as simple as lighting and sound quality or whether they like what you are wearing. 55% of the experience an audience has in the beginning of your performance are those other distractions and the visual performance you are putting on.

In Tom Jackson’s “The Live Music Method,” this is what is known as the 15/30/55 rule. Naturally you don’t want to show off your best work or tricks right at the beginning of your performance. You have to warm the audience up first, then take them on a journey and there is a formula that can take you there for every performance we’ll get into later.

So lets recap Tip 3 Starting with the End In Mind


Know the 15/30/55 rule: Give your audience something to warm up to

  • 15% of the audiences initial experience is about what you are saying and your music

  • 30% of the audiences initial experience is sizing you up, what you look like, what the stage looks like, your confidence, and other things like lighting and sound

  • 55% of the audiences experience is what else is catching the audiences eyes and ears

Take them on a journey

  • The best way to think about planning your performances is to start with the end in mind by knowing where you are in the relationship with your audience


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