When singers and performers are evaluated, often one of the phrases that comes into the topic of conversation is that of stage presence. But what is stage presence and how can a performer develop it? Oftentimes it is presumed to be something you either have or you don’t. But as with most things with voice and with performance, it can be groomed and developed. For the purposes of this blog here today, I will define stage presence as the ability to perform with confidence and poise onstage, and, in the case of vocalists, to use body language, facial expressions and tone to accurately reflect the emotional content of a song. DoRayMi Lessons works with students every week to help improve their stage presence.
Want to learn how to work on your stage presence style? Read on.
1. Posture. You will hear me say it again and again and again. Your performance begins as soon as you start walking towards the stage. Your shoulders should be back, head held high and your stride should be slow and purposeful. Also, your chest should be open and hands should be at your sides. A lot of times with stage fright, it’s easy to want to close off and even cross our arms in front of our chest but we need to make ourselves open to interaction with the audience. Don’t apologize for your performance with your body language.
2. Just smile and nod. A smile onstage can go a long way. Practice making a natural smile in front of the mirror when your practice your instrument so it seems natural and not forced onstage. Also great-give the audience and your accompanist a little nod when you get onstage to let them know you are ready!
3. Don’t fidget. Watch yourself in the mirror when you practice walking on stage or singing through a piece. Do your eyebrows have a weird twitch? Do you pull at your clothes? Little movements like that can be very distracting on stage. Try to get familiar with your nervous habits and address them prior to performances.
4. It’s all in the face! Think about the music and make sure your facial expressions reflect the emotional content of the song. Try to avoid the blank stare or frown that comes with concentrated effort of singing (unless a frown is appropriate for the music of course!). Think about the character of the song and how that person would be singing through the music. The mirror is your friend here! Don’t be afraid to try out some facial expressions during practice sessions.
5. Movements. We have all been there. The hands that come up and have no where to go, or keep doing the same repetitive vague movement during a song. How do we avoid this? Have a loose plan of action before a performance. Choose 3 strong, clearly defined movements to use during the course of a song. No half-hearted movements allowed! It has to be clear to the audience what you are doing.
6. Mic technique. Make sure you are comfortable with mic placement and technique before you go onstage. Practice with your teacher to find the right level to hold the mic and how to use it properly.
These are just a few ways to help you become a more confident performer. Not feeling confident? Fake it til you make it! Check out our video on audition prep to help!