Once Upon A Time By Barry Mitchell
We’re down to the last article about performing GREAT stories. Here’s our GREAT stories acronym. We have already discussed G – Graspable point, R – Retains attention, E – Emotionally involving, and A – Audience involving. And finally, a great performance story should be T – Time sensitive.
T – Time Sensitive
This is a short subject so I’ll stretch it out and milk it for all it’s worth. Wait, that’s exactly what I shouldn’t do when being time sensitive. Basically, being time sensitive is understanding that audiences have limited attention spans before a story change or change in the action is required.
Here are two rules that may help. Children can listen attentively for the number of minutes equal to their age. A five year old can handle five minutes before a change is needed. Going over this requires a master storyteller or entertainer and really just isn’t necessary. For adults seven to ten minutes is their max. Think of the length of time between commercials on television. It may be that people were able to pay attention longer before the creation of television. But now we appear to be trained to these time limits before we need additional stimulation. Being sensitive to these rules will immediately make you a better performer. If you’re doing it right it will go completely unnoticed by the audience. However, if you doing it wrong they will squirm, find other things to do and label you as boring. Think back to performers you remember as boring, it’s most likely they “milked” a subject too long.
And finally, time sensitive performers are unselfish and have the quality of the show above their ego. A professional knows from experience when a show or segment is running too long. They have developed the ability to watch the audience for anxious signs. For the quality of the show they will shorten or limit their material. On the other hand a selfish performer wants as much time on stage as possible and will stretch to satisfy their ego despite the audience. That’s not entertainment, that’s self gratification.
I’ll be time sensitive and stop there. See you next issue for more ideas and suggestions to make your “Once upon a time” more effective.