December 18, 2020 2 Comments

Some performers just exude a special something. Even if they’re not as virtuosic as some other musicians, they shine on stage and everyone in the room seems tethered to their every move. It may seem like this is an innate talent available to some and not to others, but it turns out it can be learned. And while some people are born with it or pick it up easily, even if you have to work to get it, almost anyone can have great stage presence.

And the best part? Once you start employing a few tried and true techniques, audiences will respond better, your confidence will grow, and the whole will get easier and easier.

So, we’ll discuss a few ways you can improve your stage presence here.

Practice

First and foremost, practice. When it comes to stage presence this comes in two forms. One is obvious – the better you are with your instrument – whether that’s a guitar, your voice, a harp, or a drum kit – the more confident you will be. If you have your shtick down pat, not only memorized but truly internalized, you can concentrate fully on connecting with your audience.

The other side of practice when it comes to stage presence is practice being in front of people. Staying calm when someone is watching is simply a skill. This is automatic if you’re on tour and have to perform every night. It’s all but guaranteed you’ll have great presence after 6 months of that. But if you’re not on tour, you can still practice the fine art of being in front of people.

Some suggestions include attending open mics, busking on busy corners, regaling your family at home, and inviting select people to rehearsals. When it comes to band rehearsals, you can start small by letting a significant other or parent sit in the room and progress to inviting a neighbor and then perhaps a few people who are strangers to most of the people in the room.  If you continually challenge yourself to open up to more and more people, by the time show day comes, it’ll be second nature.

Deal With Stage Fright

We've talked about stage fright in more depth in another article, but for now remember that for the most part, presence is a matter of confidence. The more you can put yourself out there and be vulnerable and honest, the more you’ll shine on stage.

Breathe deeply, take a moment here and there to be with the audience, and remember that you’re all in this together. The good news is, the more you practice being in front of people, the easier it will be to deal with any remaining stage fright.

Be You

We see plenty of rock stars who go over the top with a dramatic character that couldn’t possibly be real. But to have real presence takes a balance of being bigger than life and true to what you are. Find the most unique things about you and go all in on those qualities. If you’re a scream queen, scream and scream fully. If you’re a lover, be a lover. Be what you are and do what you’re best at with full abandon, and your presence will be undeniable.

Use Your Space

You’ve got a whole stage. Unless you’re behind the drums, use it! Move around, spread yourself out, and if you happen to have a wireless system like the Carvin Audio UX1200MC, don’t be afraid to go into the audience. When you feel it, move and dance and jump and wiggle – whatever it is you feel, do it double so the people in the back can see.

 

UX1200MC Wireless Microphone System

 

If you really use the space, then when you do stand stock still in front of the microphone, you’ll be creating a cool moment.

Involve The Audience

As much as you can, make your show a dialogue with the audience rather than a lecture. Encourage them to cheer and clap and scream, build sing-alongs into your set, ask questions, set up call and response sessions, play charades!

The more you make this kind of two-way engagement happen, the more connected you’ll be, and the more “there” you’ll seem to your audience.

Break The Fourth Wall

Every once in a while, let yourself be surprised or moved or impressed by something in the show. Maybe the guitarist plays a new lick in a solo. Maybe an audience member calls out your name and you laugh. Maybe you make a mistake, laugh about it, and show you’re human. Maybe you say something unscripted between songs (as long as you don’t ramble).

A subtle revelation that behind the mask is a human being can go a long way.

Video Yourself

Finally, if you want to really improve the look and feel of your show, it’s always helpful to video shows and rehearsals. Take a look by yourself and see what you notice about your presence. Are you slouching? Do you seem held back? Are you using enough space? Be honest and find other people who will be honest but constructive. You’ll grow a lot faster with this kind of feedback.

Most of all, having a great stage presence is about loving the stage and what you do on it. The more you enjoy yourself, the more it seems that you want to be there and nowhere else, the more you’ll draw people to you, and the more you’ll seem “realer than real.” So, get out there and practice, practice, practice because you love it!


2 Responses

Aaron Trumm
Aaron Trumm

January 07, 2021

That is great advice, Robert!

Robert L Allen
Robert L Allen

December 28, 2020

Another thing I learned is to consider slowing down when speaking between songs. And, if you can, switch off the big delay on your vocals. When full of the natural energy and adrenalin I have on stage, I have noticed in recordings that sometimes I speak way to fast. I have been in an audience before where the singer stopped to tell a story or banter with the audience, and we all thought it was real cool but did not really understand them. I can easily talk in quick flurries of words. So, I find if I slow down a bit, it always sounds better when I hear it back. It’s just like the tendency to rush the beat when playing live.

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