This last summer I had a pretty unique opportunity to go on 4 different trips for my job. The first was a high school summer camp, the second was an elementary kids summer camp, and the third was a middle school summer camp, and lastly we were able to help with a marriage retreat.
I like to think we were helpful but honestly, I feel like I learned much more than I contributed. Each situation was very different but there were also similarities across all four. One lesson I learned though, was taught by none other than Justin Bieber.
See I remember when Bieber was cool in kids ministry. You’d say his name and everybody would love it. Then there was a fateful day when the tides turned. We were doing a public school assembly for like 350-400 kids. We brought up Justin Bieber and the booing that followed was like the stampede scene in Lion King. We were trampled by it. Bieber was wrong, he did not know that they most certainly didn’t want him.
So, I carried from that moment a simple life axiom. Kids hate Justin Bieber.
So onstage at a high school camp, we planned to use this reaction to our comedic benefit. My co-host and I excitedly worked our way toward the punchline in which a short, 5 second clip of “Baby, Baby” would play. (It was so short because of all the booing that was sure to happen.)
We made the joke.
The music played.
And the audience… sang.
There was no booing. It was like my cohost and I were the Grinch atop Mount Krumpet, waiting for the wailing to begin.
Well Dah-hoo-dores, we were wrong-oh-bores.
They loved it.
Luckily I married up. Because as my co-host and I stared at each other dumbfounded, my wife, running tech, turned the music up and made the moment Epic. (That’s the first class improv I’ve written about before).
See high schoolers we’re kids when Bieber was at his peak.
They were the generation that helped make him who he was.
They also love nostalgia.
See I was so surprised because I approached the performance like it was a performance for kids. It wasn’t though. I mean sure, I obviously changed my approach a little. But it was a surface change. The target audience was high schoolers.
Great presenters are great at serving the audience. Any server knows you start by finding the wants and needs of the ones your serving. Take a lesson from Justin Bieber, learn about your audience, study your audience, target your audience, serve your audience.