“The most important part of any act is the first 10 seconds and the last 10 seconds … what happens in between isn’t that important.”
When I first stumbled upon this quote by Broadway producer and performer George M. Cohen, I thought it seemed a bit extreme. Placed in the context of a halftime performance, it seems to discount the large majority of the show. However, after thinking about it a bit more, I realized that it does hold an important message for performers.
The First 10
First impressions count. In the first 10 seconds, the audience is quickly forming an opinion about your guard’s identity. Performers must own their identity, bring the show to life and engage the audience. Take the first 10 seconds to introduce yourself to the audience. Set the mood, tone and establish eye contact. Yes, even in a venue as large as a football stadium, eye contact still reigns supreme in winning over your audience and creating a memorable first impression.
Don’t miss the boat because you were trying to acclimate or get used to being on the field. If your audience is not immediately engaged and drawn into your show, you risk losing them, as people’s attention will wander to other thoughts or the happenings around them.
The Last 10
Last impressions count. However, positive and memorable last impressions are much harder to make than first impressions. At this point, audience members are feeling much more in touch with your performance, and their expectations have been set. In addition, in the ending moments, fatigue may be working against you. Nonetheless, you need to push harder than ever to make the last and final moment of your show powerful and engaging for your audience.
A poor last impression can nullify a good first impression. A good last impression can greatly enhance a good first impression. And finally, the last few moments of your show is what the audience will remember and take with them. It is what will inspire them to talk about your show with others.
About the Author
Chris Casteel has been involved in the color guard activity since 1981 as a performer and an instructor. She has a master’s degree in education. She has instructed several medaling guards for the Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC). Currently, Chris is an adjudicator for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association and the WGASC as well as a guest adjudicator for many other circuits. She also holds the position of education coordinator for the WGASC.