If you have ever been to a concert, played in front of an audience or watched any kind of live performance, then you know how important stage presence is.
Stage presence can make the difference between sounding good and sounding great. It’s not just about being able to play your instrument well; it’s also about connecting with the audience. It’s not easy being up on stage, and it takes years of practice to get comfortable with performing for people. But there are ways you can improve your confidence and performance skills so that you’re ready when the time comes.
Whether you’re just starting out or already playing gigs regularly, we think these tips will help you feel more confident on stage and make sure your audience is having fun too!
1) Body language and eye-contact skills.
One of the most common stage performance mistakes musicians make is not engaging with their audience. It’s important to remember that you’re on stage for your audience, and they can tell when you aren’t paying attention if it’s just about showing off how good you are at playing an instrument. Moving around on the stage and getting close to the audience creates a dramatic feel. Getting close to the audience and looking at them gives a sense of intimacy and connection.
Try making a conscious effort to use body language and eye contact to connect with the audience. If you’re comfortable, try playing in front of a mirror and practice your stage performance skills before an actual gig.
2) Project confidence as a performer.
The first step in tackling stage presence is to have confidence in your abilities. That doesn’t mean you should be arrogant, but it does mean you need to believe that you deserve to be on that stage.
Believe that the audience came specifically because they want to see you and hear your music. Don’t let anyone make you feel nervous or self-conscious before going up on stage. Think about what makes you happy and confident and let those feelings fill your body before performing.
If you want to feel more confident, find ways to do so that are specific for your stage presence needs. Here are a few ideas:
- Take vocal lessons and learn breathing techniques (to help get rid of stage fright).
- Practice mindful meditation before performing (to calm down the nerves)
- Speak up in public and get feedback on stage presence (to improve your ability to handle nervous feelings)
- Practice smiling in front of a mirror or video camera to help you smile more easily onstage.
3) Use your voice effectively on-stage
There are many techniques that can help you to use your voice effectively when performing in front of an audience. One such technique is to find breathing room for yourself on-stage. Find a spot where you can step back and take a deep breath so that you have more time to project your voice into the microphone rather than abruptly moving forward to sing. This skill will also come in handy if your acoustic performance needs a little bit of amplification, as it will help you sound more relaxed and natural so your vocal cords don’t get strained.
Other techniques for using your voice well on-stage are choosing the right music, reading lyrics carefully before singing them aloud, and rehearsing as much as possible before taking the stage at a concert or gig.
4) Use choreography in your performance.
When it comes to stage presence, having some choreographed moves can be a great way to engage with the audience while making sure you have something that makes your stage performance memorable.
It’s a stage performer’s best-kept secret that you can have some fun with choreography in your performance, and it doesn’t need to be over the top. You might not think of guitar players as dancers but there are plenty who use moves like kicking their feet out or head banging throughout the set. It needs to look good though – stage presence is about looking good too.
The stage performance choreography will depend on the type of music you’re playing and what your band’s stage persona is like, but it can be a really effective way to connect with an audience when done right.
Fancy footwork or hard core head banging might not work for everyone though – find what stage performance moves suit your stage persona and play to it.
5) Use props during your show.
Sometimes an audience loves a show just for the props. And live music often sounds better when the stage is more full of energy and life! Props can also help you stay focused on your performance and not worry about getting nervous. The key is to use props that fit in with the sound of your show, are easy for you to use, and complement your personality.
Here are some ideas:
- A tambourine on hand for the singer if you’re playing a more rhythm-based set.
- A folding chair as a stage prop.
- Special portable lights to light up your stands, amplifiers, or drums.
- Unique instruments for special sounds: banjo, recorder, a children’s keyboard – these can make for interesting conversation and sounds.
- Drummers and guitarists, don’t forget extra sticks and picks to throw out to the audience!
Now that you know how to improve your stage presence, it’s time to put those tips into practice.
As a musician yourself, what are some of the things you do before and during performances?
Share them in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!