I spent the weekend in Niagara Falls.

At one point L and I were having lunch overlooking the falls and we were watching a busker.

His act consisted of juggling three glass balls, then juggling one larger glass ball, and then “flippy” hat tricks.

He also had a microphone and what looked like some kind of flammable liquid (lighter fluid? though it looked like it was in a vegetable oil jug) and a stick that he never used (though, by the look of it – it would have been used in any flammable act)

it was a really hot day.

anyhow, he was out there and doing his thing.

but he couldn’t get a crowd to stay.

people would stop – stay a while, but then move on.

some even stayed for the triple threat – that being the glass ball juggling, followed by the hat tricks.

by hat tricks, it was more in the movement of his wrists and flipping the hat in the air and catching it.

here’s where i think he went wrong:

1. his location. he was on the grass, but set up too close to the sidewalk, so people couldn’t really stop that easily without blocking the sidewalk – and the psychology of crowds says that people don’t want to get tooo close to a street performer. who knows where they’ve been?

a better location was actually 15 feet away.
in that location was a similar sized patch, though it was had the advantage of the shade of a tree. in fact, throughout his performance there were more people gathered under the tree than watching his show.

people are like flies – if there’s a crowd around something, our natural instinct is to stop and have a look. the tree would have provided him a natural place for people to gather.

2. he didn’t evolve the show. he just went through the three things (ball ball hat) and repeated. one family stayed and watched the whole thing, then, realizing that that was it, moved on. he never upped the ante and announced that the show was going on.

3 he didn’t speak. he just did his thing. he had a microphone, yes, but didnt’ interact with the crowd.
he should have been announcing stuff like “hey folks, the show is going to begin in 5 minutes – stick around, we’re about to start”
you know, letting people know what’s up.

people like street performers. it was the right day for it too – there were lots of people out for Canada Day.
After seeing the falls, people are looking for stuff to look at – he had everything he needed to make a successful show – ample amounts of people who have nothing better to do – in fact want nothing better to do – than see stuff.

but he didn’t look.

it’s such an appropriate analogy for lots of stuff in life. namely, corporate blogs. “hey we’ve got nothing to say and we’re doing the same trick over and over”

pretty soon, people get bored if you’ve got nothing to say.