Having a good stage presence is crucial to creating an engaging and lasting performance. While talent and practice are of course essential to any creative performance, nervous body language or unbelievable vocal patterns can kill the energy on stage. Whatever the performance medium, from music to acting to dancing, good stage presence gives the crowd the impression that you are in control and having fun. Most importantly, developing confidence in both your art and your ability to be a good performer will keep the crowd excited and energized throughout the show, and leave them wanting more.
1. Take every opportunity to practice that you get.
Practice will make you feel confident at a big show, and the more venues you get to play in, the better. Practice alone at home, practice with your band, practice in front of the mirror, play for your mom, your friends, anyone who will listen. The more practice, the less of chance you’ll mess up when it counts.]
Get lots of experience playing different shows. Don’t wait around for a big opportunity to present itself. Look for little gigs at local, smaller venues that feature your musical style. It’s a great way to build confidence, and also a lot of fun.
For actors, practice your lines until you can recite them in your sleep. The more comfortable you feel with the logistical parts of your performance such as lines and body movements, the more you can focus on being emotionally convincing and adopting your character’s persona on stage. [
2. Find your inner rock star.
No matter what kind of performance you’re involved in, from theater to music to dance, the most important trait to have on stage is confidence. Even if you’re a bit more reserved in real life, on stage, let yourself become passionate and energetic.
For softer music such as indie or folk, it’s still important to show the audience that you’re engaged and having a good time. Don’t just stand still and play even if it’s a slow, quiet song. Move to the music, interact with your band mates, and convey emotion through your face.
For louder music, it’s important to really let loose. For music such as punk and heavy metal, don’t be afraid to scream in both high and low registers, and jump around. For hip hop or rap, make sure to use clear, audible enunciation, and vary the cadence of your voice. If you speak or sing in monotone, the crowd will think you’re not confident in your music.
Remember that the crowd will only be as enthusiastic as you are. If your facial expression, body language, voice, and musicality show that you’re 100% into the music, the crowd will be, too.
3. Learn from the greats.
Watch and attend performances of bands, actors, or dances that you idolize. See what kinds of tricks and riffs musicians use on stage, and mimic some of their best techniques. Study the behaviors of actors and dancers that captivate audiences, and adopt their body language. Remember, the point isn’t to steal what’s already been done, but to learn from past successes and synthesize what works well with your own unique sound and image.
If you can’t make it to live events, watch Youtube performances. Watch videos of your favorite bands, actors, and dancers to get tips on movements and styles. You can also try watching bad performances as a way to internalize what not to do on stage.
Record your performances. This is the best way to gain a sense of what’s working when you’re on stage. For best results, film yourself rehearsing, and look for strengths and weaknesses. Does your style look natural, or are your movements forced? Are your sound and body language clear? Ideally, you should be able to smooth out the weak parts of your performances before even getting on stage.