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So we used to have open mic; we went on hiatus.

For that the first run of the show, I was very gung ho on making the show for poets.

However, I don’t think I was paying enough attention to the other entertainment aspects that I think a show needs. It was really centered around building artists, and while I think it’s something that’s needed, for the typical person that is not a poet, that is just maybe there to watch poems, it’s not the experience they are looking for.

When you look at a lot of businesses, they have something that they provide that’s a loss leader.

So it’s given out for free or it’s really inexpensive, to draw in people and generate interest. As we prepare for season 2 of our open mic, I’m using this perspective:

tonight, have fun, let’s enjoy ourselves. Let’s get poetry out there. And then if you’re also interested in other opportunities, well, we have this whole platform for development.

Because what ended up happening before was that we were only appealing to people that wanted to perform and that are also looking to work on their poems, which is like a much smaller subset of people than even the people that are just poets.

An open mic is one arm you bring in.

And I think this is where a lot of other people that are just starting their own open mics, they’re just thinking the open mic for the open mic.

That’s fine, but I think you’re setting yourself up for an opportunity to build off of.

People just wanting to have a night of poetry can get their fill; but if you guys are really interested in poetry, by the way, we’re doing this workshop this weekend. We’re hosting this event. We have this development opportunity coming up, or a podcast, or a private meetup.

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We had some hurdles with our original open mic that were a bit too difficult for us to overcome.

So the original open mic we had was on a Tuesday. 8:00, 9:00PM on a Tuesday is a tricky time — putting kids to bed, getting a break from work, family time, getting ready for Wednesday.

Location was also a challenge. We’re located on the West side, and this side of Columbus artistically doesn’t have the same sorts of events happening that occur in other parts of the city.

This is an opportunity for us to develop it, which is exciting, but it also takes a long time to train people that aren’t used to it. It’s also not a part of town that people venture to from other areas of the city, so there’s this unfamiliarity factor.

If you’re starting your own, consider times when people are looking for entertainment, where poetry could be that thing.

So, Fridays, Saturdays, weekends.

Consider also how it’s so hard to break into people’s routines. When starting a regular event, people already have their things that they’re doing, and anytime you introduce something new, you’re asking people to get out of something that they’ve already established.

Even as we’re preparing for season two of our open mic, and even as we’re picking Fridays, there are still challenges with time. It’s harder to get people to leave their homes for the winter months we’re entering right now. We’re in Ohio. It’s cold today: it was like 20 degrees. It’s dark. It’s gray. It’s going to be like this until May.

There are always going to be obstacles;

identifying them as best as possible beforehand can help you set expectations, determine what success looks like, and move forward.

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To have a successful open mic, appear successful.

To measure a show’s success, one of the most common metrics is audience size.

If your show is able to draw a crowd, people view that show as successful.

People who run events know that one of the hardest things though is to get people into seats, especially consistently.

One way that you can do that is to create a little bit of that tension.

Limit the size of the open mic list. Limit seating. Use a smaller space.

Many of these techniques also help with transparency — another factor that heightens tension. People see that spots are limited. People see there aren’t many seats. It makes appearing on stage, or even just being able to sit down, valuable.

Consider the restaurant that has the line out the door.

The food may not even be that great; like, what’s so special about this restaurant versus any other restaurant, right?

And next door to that restaurant, there may even be another restaurant that’s completely empty, and it might serve the same exact food. The advantage and disadvantage for each restaurant is the transparency factor.

People are drawn to things that they see other people are interested in.

And then if you’re also thinking like, oh, this is limited, then those 2 things combine. If you have transparency plus tension that are together. We’re considering this with our open mic; we encourage you to, too!

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