When you buy a great album or go to a concert with a group you love, you have a performance expectation – you anticipate that this will be GREAT! and so that band is starting at about 50% in terms of how much you will like their music. That is, depending on how much you like them, they can do almost nothing that great and the audience will love it, all because of their anticipation that the music and experience will be awesome. Another example of this is found in comedy. When you start laughing and everyone is laughing, almost anything is funny. Milton Berle made a point of demonstrating this intentionally on the Ed Sullivan show by saying “On Tuesday” in the middle of a routine where everyone was cracking up. It was completely meaningless but everybody laughed because they expected Milton to be funny. The same for a famous band. When you as an unknown get up to play or sing, there is no such anticipation and you have to build that expectation of excellence from scratch. To survive this, first you have to be ready for the “vacuum” coming from the audience, not being intimidated or surprised by it – you knew it would be this way. Secondly, show them as quickly as possible that you are the master, the bomb, that this will be the most awesome performance they’ve ever experienced. Then you can ride and expand on the positive feedback and energy coming from our audience (10 to 1000) and you can all have a great time.
Average ability + strong energy = great performance. Great ability + minimal excitement = poor performance.