Many years ago I was introduced to the importance of "warming up" the audience by my good friend, David Ginn. The first good warmups I ever used I learned from him.
Since then I have been on a quest to discover, remember, and use every good warmup idea I find. Some of the warmups have been discovered by accident. Some have been shared with me through friends. Several have been invented in the face of a need. As the saying goes, "necessity is the mother of invention". Occasionally a burst of inspiration has come in
a special circumstance and that inspiration turned into a tool I have used ever since.
So a few of the warmup ideas in this book are original with me. The origin of the others is mostly unknown. They've simply been passed along by friends who heard them from other friends. It is important to give credit where credit is do. If I know something about a source I will mention it in context of the warmup being described.
WHAT IS A WARMUP?
A person performing for groups of people often finds himself
in a difficult situation. The audience isn't really ready to watch and participate in the program. Maybe the preliminaries have gone on too long. The Master of Ceremonies is inexperienced so he has tired the people with his rambling jokes and reminiscences. Possibly there has been an award ceremony that has been overly long. Maybe the performance is supposed to happen after a banquet. The people are full, slightly sleepy, and distracted by conversation at tables around them.
Whatever the case..there is a need for the performer to get the attention of the audience and at the same time get them refreshed and ready to watch what he does.
Sometimes it may be that the performer has received a poor introduction and he feels a special need to get the audience "with him". Other times there may just be the sense that the audience needs a change of pace and some sort of physical movement to prepare it for appreciation of the presentation.
Once in a while the performer may realize in the midst of his own presentation that something needs to be done to relax and revive the audience at the same time.
These are the times when having good "warmups" to use is vital.
A WARMUP IS an action or short activity that involves the entire audience. It allows the people to physically move and usually provides the opportunity for a smile or laugh. It also establishes the leadership of the performer.
A warmup is not telling everyone to "stand up and stretch". That statement usually results in the performer losing control and having to work extra hard to regain it. When people "stand
up and stretch" they usually also start talking to those nextto them. Often they also decide it is time for a trip to the bathroom. If they are tired and have already had their banquet meal they may decide it is time for an early exit.
A warmup is a technique whereby the performer is actually allowing the audience to "stand up and stretch" while he remains in complete command of the situation. He is establishing a good working relationship with the audience and in the process winning their appreciation through a fun experience.
A warmup also establishes in the mind of the audience that
it can physically respond to the performer. In other words,
the message is conveyed that laughter and applause is acceptable. This happens because the physical nature of the warmup communicates the fact that the performer expects and enjoys
NOTE: This is an especially important matter when working in churches. Congregations often aren't sure if they should or shouldn't clap. In some churches laughter is a rare thing. You will relieve tension and set the people free to really enjoy what you do if you inform them at the start, (by way of a warmup), that laughter and applause is acceptable.
Now that we have defined a "warmup", let's get down to business. In the following chapters you will find specific warmup techniques that you are welcome to use in your own programs.
Originally Published 1993