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Why are your shows only a few minutes long? I need 20 minutes of entertainment!

Corporate clients often have questions regarding the optimal length of a stage performance for an event context.

We recommend a short feature performance to ensure the audience is engaged throughout. Effective stage performances for events are typically 2-6 minutes long – anything from the length of one full song, to a longer medley of excerpts from multiple songs.

While many clients request 10-15 minutes of entertainment, most professional event entertainment vendors will advise against hiring entertainment segments this long. Unless an audience has deliberately purchased tickets to sit down and experience a performance, any entertainment longer than five minutes begins to fade into the background as audience members divert their attention elsewhere. This is obviously not cost-effective for event planners, who still must compensate performers for their time regardless of whether or not the audience is paying attention.

This phenomenon boils down to the distinction between “stage time” and “clock time”. It is commonly understood that all time is relative. The nature of stage time is flexible and fluid and, through its dramatic qualities, essentially psychologically distorts real time by compressing or lengthening it. As the audience experiences losing themselves in the space and time of a stage performance, capturing and sustaining their mental attention is dependent on the quality of that performance.

Consider the length of time your attention is held by a video of an amazing performance on social media. Typically, due to the context of your exposure to this video, you have not sought out the performance-viewing experience specifically for that moment – you have stumbled across it, or it has been presented to you by others. This leads you to be fully present in the moment throughout the duration of the performance for, at most, 1 to 2 minutes before you move onto something else that is interesting.

Similarly, stage performances at events run according to the same condition. A well-executed and riveting performance will entice the audience to stay in the present moment – leading stage time to stretch and feel substantially longer than clock time. Therefore, it is completely achievable and advisable to keep the amount of psychological time spent experiencing a stage performance to a minimum to capitalise on each minute of performance time paid for.

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