Watching a broadway show for the first time

Americans embrace the Broadway culture. Back where I’m from (Malaysia), performing arts aren’t as appreciated as it is around here. So when my History in Musical professor assigned us to go watch a show and write a report about it, I was especially excited. I had never been to a Broadway show or even a performed musical, the closest I had came across to live musicals are low-budget high school performances that were mediocre at best.

My professor wanted us to watch Anything Goes played by Marquette students at the Helfaer Theatre here on campus. The play is based on Cole Porter’s musical comedy that ran for 420 performances in New York City back in 1934. The original play is a show about the stories that went on Ocean Greyhound America, an ocean liner bound for London from New York. It had a star-studded cast that includes Broadway diva, Ethel Merman.

Before we went to see the show, we were required to research about the history of the show and write a short biography about Cole Porter and Ethel Merman. Then, we would have to watch the performances and jot down our observations on our report.

On Thursday night, I went to the show with a friend and I was pleasantly surprised at how well done it was! The performers were great, the setting and props were great, the orchestra was great, the dancing was great!

After watching the show, I realized that everybody in the production had excellent indirect communication. The actors had proficiently used cue signals throughout the show. It was subtle, yet effective and the whole production knew what to do all the time. I knew the show was very well rehearsed, but the communication among them was very well done!

I noticed that whenever a song was about to begin, the actors / actresses would say a line that triggers an extra spotlight to be shined on them. Then, their microphones would turn on (their dialogues were conversed in natural voices and carried throughout the theatre) and the orchestra would start playing. The show was set up in a way where tasseled curtains served as the backdrop of the stage and also as a separation curtain between the performance and the orchestra. The orchestra would not have visual cues from the actors and thus, needed to rely on indirect cue that is the specific dialogue to open the song.

Speaking of nonverbal communications, the actors delivered their characters in a very believable manner. Their body language and tone of voice would match up to their characters, making their characters shine on stage. For instance, one of the characters in the show is Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, a stuffy English gentlemen. The actor playing him, A. J. Magoon (pictured on the right of this picture), was using his body language such as standing up really straight, nose held high, a nasally voice, and lots of finger wiggling to portray a snobby character.

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Also, the communication between the show and the audiences was very lively. Whenever the actors told a joke, they would make a silly face at the audience to cue laughter. The pause after the joke lets the audience laugh without interrupting the flow of the show. The actors did this after a song was done too. They would always finish a song in a dramatic pose, then paused on stage in that pose to cue applause from the audience before walking off the stage. Although the show wasn’t particularly interactive, the audience could feel like they were part of the show, an aspect which I enjoyed very much.

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Watching Anything Goes done by Marquette Theatre is by far one of the most interesting things I’ve done so far in 2017. I encourage all of you who have a love for Broadway and also curious first timers to go check out the show before it closes on Apr 23rd! If you read this afterwards and sad that you’ve missed the show, follow Marquette Theatre’s social accounts for more upcoming productions!

Tickets at Marquette Box Office: Anything Goes
MU Theatre’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/MUTheatre
MU Theatre’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarquetteTheatre

*all photos belong to Marquette Theatre

Cheers,

Jan

Taking good pictures with just your phone

Scrolling through social media sites, sometimes you can’t help but wonder: “How did this person capture such a great picture? I’m jealous!” Well, I’m here to share a few of my personal tips on capturing decent pictures wherever you explore. For this post, I will only focus on the use of a mobile phone’s camera. Most people nowadays own a mobile phone with a camera feature in one way or another. An excellent picture does not revolve around the use of a fancy camera, but it does rely on:

  1. Composition
    What to be included in a picture matters. A great picture is what that pleases the eye. How elements of the scene are arranged within the image frame defines the composition of a shot. The most basic and common composition principle that most photographers live by is the rule of third. With the rule of thirds, you have to imagine that the frame is split into nine equal sections by two horizontal and two vertical lines. The idea is that you position the main focal point of the image on one of the four points where these lines intersect. By achieving this, you give th subject in focus a more defined placement and keeps the photo interesting.
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  2. Distance
    How far should you be away from your subject matter in the shot? When taking landscape picture, you’ll definitely want to back up a few steps to get the whole scenery in your shot. But when you want to take a close up picture, do you stand a few inches away from the subject matter or would you stand far away and use zoom? I would suggest a little bit of both. Phone cameras have good megapixel features in itself but once zoomed, the picture might look grainy or blurred. The best way to take a close up shot with your phone camera is to stand a good distance away from the subject (let’s say a rose), then try closing in to the appropriate distance. Once you can see the rose details clearly, tap on your phone screen again to lock on the focus and snap the picture, leaving the background a little blurred for that depth effect.
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  3. Angle
    To take good picture, sometimes it is good to crouch down low to the ground or stand at a high place to take the picture in a bird eye’s view. We usually see things in eye-level, so it is nice to capture pictures in a unique angle, creating a new perspective. For this example, I have used the close up shot technique and laid down on the sand to capture this newborn sea turtle.
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  4. Filters
    Our world is colorful! Do not be afraid to choose a color as your main focus or even strip off all the colors and leave it in black and white. Monochrome pictures bring out the most subtle details in a photo and can make the picture look more lively than if it was colored. It does not matter if you change the filter before taking the picture or add on a filter when editing it, it is useful to play around with different filters to give it a “wow!” effect.
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  5. Steadiness
    All the above four tips will be meaningless if your hands are unsteady while taking a picture. When your hands are shaky, the camera phone will have a hard time in focusing on the subject matter and will fail to capture the shot in its utmost clarity. On newer Samsung phone cameras, there is a manual mode built into the camera and this allows users to manually adjust the shutter speed. The longer the shutter speed, the longer the camera needs in order to snap a shot. Thus, a steady hand is the key to win this shot. This feature is great when you and a bunch of friends have hand sparklers and would want to do light writing.
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Capturing a good picture does not 100% rely on the tools you use. All those fancy DSLRs can be a waste if the person behind the lens did not learn the skills to utilize it to its ultimate potential. Just remember that composition, distance, angle, filters, and steadiness makes a difference when capturing pictures, even if you only use the camera on your mobile phones!

Now, go and explore more places (especially in Milwaukee) for all those insta-worthy shots!

*All photos are taken by me throughout the years.

Cheers,

Jan

How to use the tools of persuasion in advertising?

Advertisements hold the power to persuade readers into buying the products it is promoting. The keyword here is persuasion. Advertisers uses persuasion everyday to influence potential consumers into buying their products / services.

Dr. Robert Cialdini, best known for his 1984 book on persuasion and marketing, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, writes that there are six principles of persuasion that we can utilize in order to influence others at our will.

First, there’s reciprocation. All of us are taught since young to repay others whenever we can. Most people will find ways to avoid being called a freeloader, or a moocher. In the perspective of advertising, this tactic is used often. Free samples or free trails are often offered to potential customers to persuade them to buy the products / services. A sense of indebtedness can be formed when uninvited “first favors” such free samples are given. With that sense of guilt, the potential customer will feel the need to reciprocate and in return, buy the product / service, which is the goal of the advertisers. For example, supermarkets or stores would have sampling stations near the product advertised to hand out free tastings and will preach about the product when the potential customers are enjoying the samples. When potential customers accepts the free samples, they automatically would be “in debt” and will try to reciprocate by buying the product that’s being offered to them.

Second, there’s the principle of commitment and consistency. When users have made a choice or taken a stand, they are more likely to stick with their decisions until the end. The desire for consistency is the new way of advertising. Many companies such as Amazon, Spotify, Blue Apron and other subscription based services will use discounted rates or free trials to lure potential customers into commit to their services. For example, gym advertisers would offer free-month-at-the-gym trials for new customers to lure them into signing a gym membership. Once they have completed the free trials, the need to be consistent will motivate them to sign a one year gym membership deal with the company.

Third, social proof is a powerful principle that let us identify and follow a certain “correct” behavior. If everybody around us behaves a certain way, we will assume that it is the right thing to do. This principle is very effective because most people in society follow norms. For example, Dunkin’ Donuts has a tagline that reads “America runs on Dunkin’.” By emphasizing America as a whole in the slogan, potential customers will think, “well, the whole country is eating Dunkin’, I should be too.” Advertisers uses the power of norms in slogans such as Dunkin’ Donuts to influence more people to make the common decision of buying that certain brand of product / service.

Fourth, liking is the key to saying “yes”. People have been known to trust and be influenced by people that are similar to them. Most people loves flattery, even when they are unaware of it. Advertisers would use this tactic to “get on the good side” of potential customers to get them to buy their products / services. Like a car salesman, if he sees a mom pulls up with two kids in the back seat and a golfing bumper sticker on the car, the salesman would casually talk about his own kids and golfing hobbies to establish a comfort level and familiarity in that encounter, leading the mom to buy a car from that salesman because he is appears so similar to herself.

Fifth, authority has the power (no pun intended) to influence us. Degree of compliance varies according to situations but most people grew up with a respect to authority, no matter if it is real of implied. Advertisers uses this aspect to their advantage by hiring professionals or celebrities to promote their products / services. Potential customers are more willing to comply when the person making the offer looked the part. For example, toothpaste commercials often features the testimonials coming from dentists because potential customers would trust the words of a professional when making purchasing decisions.

Sixth, and lastly, there is the principle of scarcity. Cialdini mentions that opportunities seem more valuable when they are less available. Advertisers love using the term “limited” to make their product more interesting that it actually is. Hard-to-get items are perceived more positively and more desirable just because it is more difficult to be obtained. A fine example would be Milwaukee’s Summerfest organizers. Summerfest have used the appeal of scarcity to increase the crowd volume during the festival week by offering tickets at a limited amount or time. When Summerfest festival goers see the daily admission promotions, they will think the limited number of tickets available as a sign of rarity and show up early, then typically spends the whole day within the grounds, spending on food and merchandises, which ultimately will profit Summerfest.

Shown here are all the six principles found in the ways persuasion can be used in advertising and how dangerously effective it can be. Reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity are some of the ways advertisers can apply to influence potential customers into investing in their products / services.

References:

Cialdini, R. B. (1984). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. NY: HarperCollins.

Cheers,

Jan

The importance of font choices

With every document / poster / email we write electronically, there will always be font choices available. Even as I am writing this blog, I have the option to choose from a variety of font choices given by WordPress. Everyday, a new typeface is created and uploaded to the web. It is impossible to quantify all the font options available for us to use.

Spoilt with choices, how do we know what fonts to choose? Here is my few tips on choosing fonts:

  1. Knowing when to stop. Sometimes, we can’t help but to splurge ourselves on the amount of fonts available and tries to include as much as the documents allows it. But, when a wide variety of font is included, the text may look cluttered. The readers might be distracted by the style of words and are unable to focus on the content we are trying to convey. Furthermore, if the text does not have a good amount of font styles, wither overdone or underdone, the whole impression of the text might look unpolished.
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  2. Compatibility. When choosing fonts, the style of the typeface must be compatible to the tone of text we are trying to convey. For example, robotic-sharp-edged fonts should not be used when designing a poster for the medieval fair. Also, another terrible example of font choices, using fun-looking fonts on a tombstone that is meant to be somber. The appropriate font choices allows us to capture the attention of the readers and let them to be more intrigued by the content displayed.
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  3. Be aware of readability. Sometimes, we come across a font and we love the look of all the characters individually. But, when a word is formed and put together, it might not seem like the best choice. Another aspect to note is the font size: too little can be straining to the readers’ eyes and too big can make the text difficult to read as a whole. In the example, the tagline is suppose to read “cover your home in a click”. Even though the font looks simple enough and individual characters have great readability, the word “click” being put together with that font does not seem like a good choice at all!
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  4. Do not over-style the fonts. When we decide on a font, we think, great, now the next step is consider if we need to underline, bold, or strike it out. These features are great at emphasizing points, but overdoing it means the readers could not decide where to focus on. When designing, drop shadows and reflections are common styles used. If used badly, the word can meant entirely something else.
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  5. Contrasting matters. Font decisions must accompany with color, stroke, weight and space decisions. If the font does not contrast with the background, readers might have a hard time reading the text in a clear and easily digestible manner. The font chosen must be spaced out appropriately so that readers do not feel that they are bombarded with information. Easy reading flow can be achieved by letting fonts have enough space between each other.
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All in all, the examples provided are proofs why font choices matter. We as writers / designers have the responsibility to portray our messaging in the appropriate manner so that readers are able to be interested in our content in a positive way. The look of fonts can be as effective as the content to persuade readers when the right decisions on font choices are made.

I hope you enjoyed my tips on choosing the right fonts. Stay tune to next time!

*All example credits goes to its respective owners.

Cheers,

Jan

Facebook v. Twitter: which platform is better for advertising?

Long gone are the days when you had to wait until the next morning for newspaper or religiously tune into the evening news channel just to get an update of the world. Now in the world of modern technology, anyone can easily get on top of news online, just with a click of a button. Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow users to share information at an instance, 24/7. Without the existence of social media, information would not have traveled on the magnitude that it does right now: on demand and quick. With that being said, which channel, Facebook or Twitter, is the best option for a company to market itself?

According to investor.fb.com, Facebook in the year of 2015 have generated an impressive revenue of nearly 18 billion dollars among its 1.4 billion monthly users. In the same year, Twitter with number of users exceeding 332 million, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, have earned 312.2 million dollars in revenue. To put that in perspective, Facebook is earning revenue of $12.45 per user while Twitter is earning just $1.50 in revenue per user.

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Both of these social media have the power to connect users on a worldwide scale and companies can easily promote their products and services via these platforms. So why does the number differs so much?

The biggest difference between Facebook and Twitter lies in the level of engagement that the users are exposed to. Facebook posts offers longer lifespans on its contents while Twitter posts have the risk of being buried by new content every second. Furthermore, the content limitations differs on both platforms too. Companies may struggle to keep its content under 140 characters on Twitter while it may write essay-long content on Facebook without word limits.

The advantages of using Facebook for advertising is the accurateness of targeting consumers. Facebook allows companies to target audiences better than any other social platform. This is the fact because users on Facebook are required to enter detailed descriptions of themselves and the data is later categorized demographically. Additionally, Facebook have a wide scale of users of different demographics, therefore companies prefers advertising on this platform.

Twitter has its pros too. The platform attracts a lot more younger demographics compared to Facebook and users are allowed to pinpoint content just via hashtags. With the word limits in place, advertisers are forced to keep their content short and straight to the point, which appeals to most online users in this fast paced world. Content that are short and relevant are easy to be read and digest by the users and therefore, creating a more effective outreach from the advertisements. Bite size contents allow Twitter users to scroll through the feed without the feeling of being bombarded by lengthy essays and if they are interested, could click on the link attached to get additional information.

For now, Facebook remains the leading advertising giant with a revenue of nearly 18 billion dollars in 2015. But, the virtual world are always changing and users are always getting information in new ways, thus Twitter is a good option for companies to advertise too.

Overall, it really depends on what a company look for when it decide to advertise. Both social media platforms mentioned have its own unique advantages.

Let me know in the comments, which social media is better for advertising? Looking forward to hear your input!

Cheers,

Jan

References:

Facebook. (2017). Facebook to announce fourth quarter and full Year 2015 results. Investor Relations. Retrieved from http://investor.fb.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=952040

Koh, Y. (2015). Twitter revenue jumps; user growth disappoints. MarketWatch. Retrieved from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/twitter-revenue-jumps-user-growth-disappoints-2015-07-28

Business Management Degree. How does Facebook make its money? BusinessManagementDegree.net. Retrieved from http://www.business-management-degree.net/facebook/