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Tips for Singers:
Enhancing Audience Appeal
by Richard Baisner

I’ve participated in and watched many contests during my Karaoke "career," and I’ve had the opportunity to observe hundreds of performers.

Occasionally, I have seen people get upset after the winner was announced. The general opinion was that the contest was rigged and that "so-and-so should have won." I don’t always know how the winner is selected (every contest has different rating criteria), but keep in mind that most contest judges rate you on categories such as onstage performance, vocal ability, and overall presentation. Other contests are based solely on the audience’s reaction to the song. In either case, I’m going to be talking about how to get the best audience reaction-which can be applied to not only for contests, but also for Karaoke in general.

There are three categories of appeal that every audience has: audio appeal, visual appeal, and emotional appeal. All great performers typically perform well in all of these three areas, including politicians, entertainers, salespeople, etc. If you can create appeal for the audience in these three areas, you generally will put on a great performance!

Audio Appeal: This area I’m not going to get into many details, because it encompasses a wide range of topics. In short, audio appeal is "how well you sound." Again, I have seen contest winners who didn’t have a whole lot of audio appeal, but they excelled in some other area. You don’t always need to have a good voice in order to get a great reaction from the audience, as I’m sure many of you have observed. On the other hand, if you have a tremendous amount of audio appeal, you may not need appeal in the other areas. In other words, you can just stand there and sing, and everyone will love it!

Visual Appeal: This area can be correlated to "onstage performance." Basically, it’s how well you appear on stage. This area encompasses many elements including your attire, body movements, and facial expressions.

For example, try to wear something appropriate to your song. If you’re going to sing a heavy metal song, it might look kind of weird of you’re dressed in a suit and tie… but you never know these days! Avoid looking sad, confused, or bored. If you look bored, it will make the audience bored. Be lively! Smile and get eye contact with the audience. During the presentation, you can also make various facial expressions that fit the song. Pay attention to how you hold the microphone. You may want to vary how you hold the mic, switching hands during the song for example. Avoid sitting down while you sing, unless it really matches the song. If there’s a monitor in front of you, don’t hide behind it. Stand far back behind it (where you can still read it), or to the side. These are just a few basic tips on visual appeal. I will be discussing more in depth in future articles.

Also note that your visual appeal can win a contest all by itself! For example, have you ever seen someone get up on stage and had a great dance routine or maybe wore some type of "costume?" They appealed to the audience visually, and their "show" kept everyone entertained throughout the song.

Emotional Appeal: Lastly, and in my opinion probably the most important, is emotional appeal. If you can appeal to the audience emotionally, you’re guaranteed to get a great response. Have you ever seen someone do a "joke" song that made everyone laugh? Or sung a classic song that hardly no one sings? One time I won a contest with a rare 80’s tune. The audience loved it. However, I did the same song somewhere else the next night and didn’t get anywhere near the level of response I did earlier. What happened? Same song, but different circumstances. Either the song didn’t fit the mood of the audience, or maybe the song was out of their age range.It’s somewhat difficult to determine what songs the audience might like. However, you can get clues by observing the audience when other singers are on stage. Is the audience clapping along, tapping their toes, or bobbing their heads? Are they in a dance mode, or do they seem to prefer love songs? Look for songs that you might be able to tie into a current event, a recent movie, an upcoming holiday, or something that is currently "in vogue."

The average age group of the audience is also an important factor. Personally, I try to pick songs that I think might trigger positive memories of their high school days, or I bring back great songs that they’ve forgotten about. If you sing a song that is too old, it’s possible that they’ve never heard the song before. And, the same rings true for new songs with older audiences.

In summary, appealing to the audience in these three areas is a sure-shot method for success! Keep in mind that although you may like to sing certain songs, the audience might not enjoy them as much as you do. But, don’t let this be a limiting factor in your song selections. You can never predict how an audience is going to react. I myself had given up on certain songs prematurely; thinking no one liked them. But, then I brought them back to a different audience and had great responses.

(reprinted with the kind permission of Richard Baisner a.k.a. Grateful)

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