The Magic Triangle – Venue, Audience, and Material


As a member of a few different performing arts communities, I spend a lot of time assessing my performances and thinking about how I might improve or at least what I’ve learned, no matter how the particular event went.

One of the things that I’ve come to realize is that there are three items which, when in proper balance, will create an excellent experience for me and my audience both. They are the three most important words in my toolkit: venue, audience, and material.

It’s a magic triangle over which you have a great deal of control, in that your choices will directly affect the success of your messaging.

These three things have to be in coordination with each other to provide the best reactions from a performance viewpoint. But it’s also something that I have applied in countless other situations. Whenever I experience something that seemed to knock it out of the park or something which seemed to fall short of expectations, I try to do a quick assessment of how all three parts did or didn’t achieve balance.

Here’s why they are so critical in every situation.

The Venue

The Venue is the space in which one is presenting — any space. It could be a real stage (from dive bar to Carnegie Hall) or a graphic one (from social media channels to the New York Times) or an audio-visual one (from local drive-time radio to the Super Bowl).

There are opportunities in nearly every venue. But each one will need a slightly different presentation and may play to a different audience. You have to go with the venue you can afford and also the one where your audience is.

The venue has to feel appropriate for the material being presented.

The Audience

Speaking of the Audience, we all know that not all people pay attention to all venues, so even if our goal is to “reach everyone!” we also know that to do that, we need to play to the audience in front of us when they are in front of us.

The people who are reading or watching your product in one venue are not necessarily the same audience as those who find you in another. This is normal, and when you think about it for a while, it makes solid sense that what is suitable for one audience isn’t going to be the best for another.

The audience needs to feel like the material is what they expect for the venue.

The Material

The Material is what’s presented in the venue to the audience.

It’s easy to recognize that the folks attending the discount Sunday matinee showing of Carousel are probably not the same audiences as those who are attending a two-day outdoor rap festival, even if both are focused on music. They are not going to resonate with the material in the same way. Similarly, the folks who are reading the New York Times are looking for a different experience than those reading The Inquirer tabloid.  

Witty, humorous ad text may be perfect for a particular social media channel, but it wouldn’t be in the middle of a speech at a business luncheon presentation about your business. And we’ve all listened to a really awkward wedding speech that we wish we could unhear.

The material has to resonate with the audience and be appropriate for the venue.

The Balance

When venue, audience, and material are in balance, the message tends to be well-received, and everyone has a good experience. When the balance is off the experience may be flat, jarring, or even offensive to the audience.

It’s something that many performers consider as second-nature — it’s simply a matrix they keep inside and are always measuring against internally.

What’s the takeaway?

If you are planning to do some marketing or advertising, be sure to put some thought into how the venue (method and place) matches the audience (the people  reached in that venue) to deliver effective material (your sale, event, or presentation.) Ask yourself if they all seem to support each other well. If they don’t, you have the chance to take it back to the drawing board.

An additional takeaway is this — if you’re about to present material somewhere — a boardroom, a business lunch, a speech, or even just in line at the grocery store — you always have control over any material you present in any venue and to any audience. You can always change what you’re going to say to maintain balance when you’re aware of your venue, audience, and material.

If you find you’re concerned that you’re more off-kilter than balanced, reach out and grab us — we’re always happy to help!