When I ask artists what they need the most help with or what their weak spots are in a live show, the most common answer I get is ‘talking to the audience’. I can relate. Many times when I was playing live I would want to say something to the crowd, but when I started speaking, it would come out a disjointed, rambling mess.
It aggravated me so much that I started rehearsing exactly what I wanted to say for a song set-up, then put the first few words right on the set list to get me going in the right direction! It worked. Once I got started on the right foot, then the rest would come out fine, because I’d worked on it.
Artists most commonly like their music to speak for itself, but the truth is the audience wants to hear YOU speak as well! It helps them get to know who you are and connect with you on a more intimate level.
What to say? The first and most logical thing to consider is to talk about your songs. How did you come upon the idea? What inspired you to write it? What does it mean to you personally? Avoid clichés like “I wrote this next song about…” Just go right into the story ! The audience will piece together that it’s going to relate to the next song. It’s a LOT more effective to start with, “I was driving through the desert last summer, when I saw this old man, sitting by the side of the road, playing an old violin…” Now a story like THAT is going to draw me in!
Telling a story draws people right into the song and can become one of your ‘moments’ - especially if it’s personal. It’s much more interesting to hear a personal story rather than, ‘There was guy who lost his girl and then his house burnt down’. Something that happened to YOU is more compelling and relatable. And if it IS a song about someone else you can personalize it by talking about your relationship to that person and how it affected you as well.
All of this said however, don’t be tempted to talk TOO MUCH! No one wants to hear you talk between every song. Mix it up by using a few stories, a few one-liners and times where you go right into the next song.
For more on speaking to your audience, check out Tom’s DVD ‘From Infinity & Beyond’ at: http://tinyurl.com/269v259
Rock Well & Often, (& SPEAK Well & Selectively!),