If you’re a musician, your performance is split into two categories, namely the audio and the visual aspect. Stage presence can be summarized as the visual aspect of the performance.
If you’re a very talented guitar player, you will need to focus less on stage presence, as your playing alone will be enough to captivate the audience. If you’re not the greatest musician, you’re going to need to focus your time on developing great stage presence in order to make an impact.
For maximum effect, I believe that every performing musician should invest at least some time in developing his or her on-stage persona. Your persona will, of course, be dependent on the genre of music you’re playing, your personality, as well as your inspirations as a musician.
It goes without saying, that in order to begin working on your stage presence you will need to have the performance aspect down. This means knowing your parts on “autopilot”, so that you can play them without having to think about them. If you’re too heavily focused on playing your parts right (the mistake a lot of amateur musicians make), there will be no room to exercise stage presence and interaction with others around you.
You also want to strive to enjoy yourself and have as much fun as possible. If you’re enjoying yourself, the audience will pick up on this and enjoy themselves too. Ultimately, your performance needs to originate from a place of passion for what you do.
This is how a lot of successful acts that have great stage presence do it. They use video to record their performances, so that they can get a clear picture of how they’re coming across on stage.
Placing yourself in the audience is invaluable to any performing musician, and will allow you to critically analyse and tweak your performance for the maximum effect.
You have the choice of either recording your rehearsals or your live show. My recommendation is that you do both.
Video has been an invaluable tool for me, as I only realized how much work my stage presence needed when I began watching videos of myself performing.
Stage Presence Tips
Here are some tips to help you come across in the best way possible on stage:
- Believe that you are worthy of being on stage;
- Smile as much as possible (where appropriate; learn to fake a smile when necessary);
- Treat every performance as your last;
- Stand in a wide stance, with your legs apart from one another;
- Feel the music, and display this to the audience;
- Don’t stay in the same place for the whole show – move around. The bigger the stage/audience, the more you will need to move;
- If you’re doing vocals, move away from the microphone when you’re not singing;
- Make eye contact with your audience and with specific people in the audience. The visual below represents the 9 different focal points:
- Dress appropriately. This will also help to make you feel more confident. See: How to Dress If You’re a Guitar Player;
- Learn to overcome stage fright. See: How to Overcome Stage Fright;
- Consider the flow of your show. Are the intervals between songs too long?
- Consider adjusting your guitars strap height not only from a comfort perspective, but from a visual perspective too. See: How to Set the Height of a Guitar Strap.
The best way to start developing your own on-stage persona is to copy your favorite guitar players. At the same time, you don’t want to be an outright clone of your guitar hero. You should remain true to who you are and your own personality type.
When watching others perform, you may want to pay attention to the following:
- Do the movements of the performer seem genuine or forced?
- Is the performance more focused on the visual or audio aspect, or is it well-balanced?
- What showmanship nuances are displayed?
- How does the performer interact with the other band members?
- How does the performer interact with the audience?
- Does the guitar and amplifier(s) compliment the visual aspect and are there any stage props used?
The ultimate confidence boost is a well-rehearsed performance, and is the main attribute you should be employing in order to ensure you come across confidently on stage.
A musician’s main role is to entertain, so you need to fit the profile of an entertainer. You need to make it seem as if you know what you’re doing and that you’re in control. You’re also going to want to learn to recover from mistakes in the best way possible.
These are things that you may not necessarily get right at your first gig, however you should use every performance as an opportunity for improvement.
Often things won’t go as planned, from forgetting your parts to terrible stage sound. These things can be very disheartening, however you should never display this fact to the audience.
It’s simple. If you’re not feeling confident you’re going to need to learn to fake it.