Soothing the Savage Beast
Some of the steps you will need to take are:
Acknowledge your audience. Maintain eye contact. Smile and sometimes point. Let them know you see them and are interested in them.
The first time a hand goes up, firmly acknowledge them and let them know you will take questions after the show.
Treat them with respect.
Don't have only performance pieces, have routines with volunteers also. Mix it up. Get audience members up front – the kids love seeing their friends and teachers on stage. Let the children know you only pick volunteers who are sitting quietly on their bottoms.
When I pick a volunteer, I re-enforce the idea with a comment like, “You were sitting so quietly with your hand raised. That's how I like my helpers.”
The kids will get the message.
Be tuned in to your show and your audience. You cannot be thinking about lunch, or car problems. You must focus on what you are doing. Amazingly, it will be picked up by the children that this is important.
The audience's attention to those things that you want them to focus on by using vocal inflections, hand gestures or facial expressions.
Tell them what you expect them to do. Example: "I*m going to my favorite trick."
If you are not excited, why should they be?
Remeber to be professional too. Treat your childrens' audience like any other. Be on time, be neatly dressed, and have your equipment shined and in good repair. Speak slowly and clearly, smile and interact with the crowd. Treat every audience member and all volunteers with dignity and respect. Do not make jokes at their expense.
They are only kids! Relax! Have Fun!
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