Whether you’re a comedian, musician, athlete, or an anchor on the nightly news, there are certain attributes you need to have or develop to become a great entertainer. No matter the field in which you practice, it takes hard work to perfect your craft. Practice is the key to gaining the knowledge and experience to make your performance as smooth and confident as possible.
One of the most important aspects of being an entertainer is knowing and understanding the audience. Gauging what aspects of a performance will garner a positive reaction from your audience is sometimes the result of trial and error, but having a working knowledge of the audience allows you to adjust your act accordingly. For instance, if you’re performing comedy for a senior citizens church group, you might do well to avoid profanities and sexual overtones in your material.
Once you have a working idea of who your audience is, the next step is careful preparation. Being unprepared is the worst mistake an entertainer can make. If you don’t care enough to pay attention to your act, then why would your audience? Preparation allows for smooth delivery and enables you to work within time constraints, which can be very important depending on the branch of entertainment you deliver. If you’re the opening act for an important band, for instance, you don’t want to go over your allotted time. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having the production crew turn the lights out on your, or having the audience boo you off the stage.
Just as careful preparation and planning is a huge part of being a good entertainer, so is the ability to improvise. Improvisation can save you in situations where things don’t go as expected. For instance, your audience turns out to be the exact opposite of what you prepared for, or your time is cut or extended due to a scheduling conflict. Being able to adjust, change, drop, or add to existing material comfortably without missing a beat goes a long way in becoming a respected professional entertainer. Also, being able to cover for the mistakes of others is a much appreciated skill. For example, you’re reading a news broadcast when your partner accidentally misreads the teleprompter. Being able to make the save and continue without becoming flustered will win over your colleagues as well as your audience.
Speaking of which, another element of being a great entertainer is being able to work well with others. No matter what you do as a performer, you will have to deal with people, be it your agents, your audience, or your employers. Knowing how to carry yourself professionally in varying situations can be a great benefit to your career.
Also important is separating performance from reality. While your on-stage persona might be flippant, brooding, or obnoxious, you need to know when and where that persona is appropriate. While some audience members might want to be insulted by a wise-cracking television host for example, there are many situations when such action would be inappropriate.
Finally, a good entertainer knows how to leave the audience wanting more. A band that constantly performs at the same venues week in and week out will not garner the same reaction as the act that comes in once every three months. Building a following requires careful strategic planning, as you want to be visible enough that the audience doesn’t forget you, but not so visible that the audience becomes sick of your act