Stage presence is more important than you may even realize. It has a huge impact on how well your show is received, and ultimately how much merch you'll sell at your gigs too.
It make take some time to get your act together, but when you see the audience rushing your merch booth at the end of each and every show, you'll know that it was worth the effort.
What makes for better stage presence? How do you make sure you come across self-assured?
Here are some pointers on how to develop and improve your stage presence.
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Build Your Confidence For Improved Stage Movements
People can tell when you're tentative and uncomfortable onstage. Bigger movements almost always project confidence, while smaller, hesitant moves will either go unnoticed or diminish your overall stage presence.
Don't be afraid of looking silly, because it's not like you're suddenly going to turn into an ugly alien or something. Weird expressions on your face, open mouths, double chins, and suspicious-looking glares are almost inevitable throughout the course of a performance. However, it's impossible to look so weird that you no longer appear to be a creature from this planet.
Build up your confidence, and perform your moves with boldness and power. You will always come across more polished when you do.
Film & Watch Yourself To Better Develop Your Presence On Stage
I don't know about you, but this is a piece of advice I have always found hard to swallow. Nevertheless, it's worth doing, because if you watch yourself in action, you'll be able to make some good educated guesses as to how you could be improving your stage presence. For best results, do it over and over again until you feel that you've achieved a strong presence.
When watching yourself, you may find yourself looking down a lot. You may find that your windmill strum is far less dynamic than you originally thought. You may discover that your vocal technique is a little off, and you need to be closer or further away from the mic for best effect.
Presence is partially about movement, and partially about connecting with your audience. The intersection is where you'll find maximum effectiveness.
Plan Your Stage Moves For A Better Performance
Do you tend to improvise most of your stage moves? Don't worry; you're not alone. A lot of artists and bands wing it every night, wondering why they're connecting with their fans on some nights (very few), and why they're not getting rousing applauses the rest of the time.
This is partly because of a lack of planning. If you just improvise, you're less likely to go out of your comfort zone. You're less likely to experiment and try new and different things. You'll get stuck in a rut, doing the same things the same way every single night. What happened to the spontaneity?
The answer is that you have to cultivate spontaneity. If you have an extended guitar solo in one song, why not let your guitarist take center stage for a while? Don't rush back into the chorus; let the moment linger, and let the audience appreciate the solo. If you want to teach your fan some hand or dance moves to follow along with, let the intro of the song go longer. Be more aware of what needs to happen when. This segues nicely into the next point.
Be Aware Of The Emotion You're Trying To Convey With Your Music
Most if not all artists know that different songs carry different emotions. It doesn't matter whether you play metal or jazz; there's a certain message that every song carries.
What most artists don't know is that when they perform, every song is coming across exactly the same to the audience. This is because, while they may be playing different songs, they're not really doing anything different onstage.
If you're going to be transitioning from a barn-burning head-banger into a nice acoustic ballad, you should maybe take a seat on a stool instead of rocking out through the entire piece. If you have a song with a catchy groove, you may want to elongate the intro, walk around the stage, get the audience to clap along or dance with you. Whatever the case, build more awareness around what you're trying to say with your music.
Start And End Well
Have you ever heard the expression, “you only tend to remember the beginning and the end?” This is a common sentiment held by concertgoers. The idea is that the middle is mostly forgotten. Of course, this doesn't just go for the first and last songs in your set list, but the beginning and end of songs too.
When you begin playing a song, you need to announce your arrival. There should be no doubt that the music is starting. If you look hesitant, if the guitarist is noodling away in the corner, if the drummer starts on the wrong beat, you're not going to make a strong first impression. Mistakes can and do happen, so laugh them off and live them down as soon as you can, but start well as often as you possibly can.
The same goes for endings. Finish a song with some attitude. Jump and land on the ending beat. Swing the headstock of your guitar. Raise your arm into the air. Declare the final beat with conviction.
Just so you know, there can be some genre or stylistic differences here. Jazz players shouldn't necessarily end a song with a snarl or a guitar swing. Play to the situation.
At first, improving stage presence doesn't seem like a science. It seems more like many serendipities colliding together in a single moment.
However, you will never achieve that level of comfort and ease without practicing it. Once you've learned your stage moves, it leaves a lot of room for improvisation, and you don't even have to think about it anymore. Until you get to that point, you'll have a hard time projecting confidence from the stage.
When it comes to live performance, sound is just one aspect of it. The visuals, the smell, the taste… every sense matters. Appeal to the senses of your fans, and etch the experience deep into their minds.