Do you want to be more polished and accomplished as a musician, so you can really impress at an audition and win your audience over? Whether you’re singing on stage or auditioning online, there are techniques that will help all singers improve their performance.
Stage performance techniques will transform singers from being average performers to potential stars. Learning how to present well in front of an audience is a skill that you should master if you want to become successful in the music industry.
Performance techniques for singers
Making a successful career in any form of live entertainment typically involves performing for an audience. There are a lot of cool things you can do while performing, as well as some things that you should never do.
Begin by showing confidence, with shoulders back and head held high – and maintain that confidence throughout your performance. It’s easy to tell which performers are nervous in front of an audience and it often takes a while to fade.
The more you perform, the easier this should get. Introduce yourself when you come on stage (if you’ve not already been announced) or before you start your performance. If you’re performing more than one song, to introduce your next song and, at the end of your set, thank the audience and let them know you’re grateful that you have had the opportunity to perform for them.
It’s not all about the voice when performing; you need to be able to create audience engagement so they’re on your side. It is important to have a certain natural presence, which lets the audience know that you are confident in your singing abilities.
This can range from simply smiling and giving eye contact to show you’re enjoying yourself, to using your eyes, face and body to reflect the emotions of the song
It’s vital that you remember your lyrics. Forgetting them can really throw you off and looks unprofessional. Write them out by hand over and over, read them before you fall asleep and get friends or family to test you. These are good techniques for lyric learning.
During your show, make use of whatever props you have to work with – the most obvious will be the mic stand. Work out whether you’ll leave it in place, move it around, or take the mic out of the stand. If you do, decide in advance exactly what you’ll do and when. It should all be rehearsed. Choreograph and practise your routine; and if you get the opportunity, in advance, check out the stage so that you can use the space provided effectively.
Performance techniques with a band
If you’re the lead singer of a group, you can introduce everyone at the start of the performance. Alternatively take it in turns with the introductions, perhaps during a solo section or when a song finishes where a particular member played a large part.
If you are performing a fast-paced song on stage, you may wish to use some backing dancers — not only will you create a more enjoyable performance for the audience, it will be a more memorable one. This is why TV talent shows often add in backing dancers and singers. Make sure you pick skilled dancers and ensure you get involved in the routine too – plenty of practice is essential as the timings can be tricky.
Cool things to do on stage while performing
How you move on stage when singing will add a huge dynamic to your performance. It can be a complex, impressive routine, or some very simple movements. Moving around on stage is engaging for your audience and your energy is contagious. If you can, take dance lessons – singers can pick up some amazing tips from dancers (and even actors), or work through tutorials on YouTube or TikTok.
If you’re choreographing a routine, don’t get so caught up with it – and remembering both that and your song – that you forget to connect with the crowd. By building rapport with your audience, they will be on your side, even if something goes wrong. Singers who create a great connection mask mistakes, meaning that audience members are more likely to get into the performance.
If you can come across as being likeable, the audience is far more likely to interact back with you. Physically moving to the front of the stage also helps to engage and connect with your audience. In the end, they’ll clap and cheer louder if this has been the case.
Things performers can’t do while performing
As well as knowing what you should do, it’s also important to know what not to do when performing on stage.
Here are the essential stage performance techniques, as well as some cool things to do on stage. Follow these tips to be a good performer whenever you sing on stage, even if it’s your first-ever time.
- Make sure you learn your lyrics
- Practice your song as much as possible
- Sing with emotion
- Make eye contact with your audience – in every part of the room or auditorium (don’t just look at the front row or one spot)
- Acknowledge other performers
- Move and gesture while on stage
- Make use of the space
While there’s a multitude of cool things you can do, here are the no-nos.
- Stop singing before the end of the song
- Get distracted
- Scratch yourself
- Say sorry and apologise when you make a mistake
- Keep your eyes closed for too long
- Fall out with fellow musicians or audience members
- Do more talking than actually performing
- Try to upstage fellow performers on stage with you
- Spend more than a few seconds with your back to the audience
Tips for performing on stage
Music by itself can stir up a lot of emotion easily and quickly. By adding your own emotion to a song this will not only demonstrate your ability to connect with the theme, but it will also draw the audience into your performance.
Choosing the right song will help you to create audience engagement. If you can connect with the song on a personal level, you are more likely to sing from the heart, making you feel more confident in your performance and believable to the audience.
How to engage an audience while singing
After choosing a song you can connect with, add dynamics and tone to bring emotion to it. Your emotion can be happy, sad or angry – see if you channel time in your life when you felt that way yourself.
Your body language gives the audience an idea of how you’re feeling when you’re on stage and conveys the emotion of the song. Becoming comfortable enough to express your emotions on stage can take time but will come with practice.
This will also help with the trust factor, with the audience feeling that emotion and connecting with you better.
How to perform on stage
While performing on stage making eye contact with the audience is another way to help them to connect with you, it shows you’re confident and again adds to the interpretation of the song. You’ll look fearless and engaged and it’s through your eyes that most of the emotion will be conveyed. It’s almost like hypnosis! Have your audience enthralled by your performance.
To get a better idea of how this works, it can help to watch YouTube videos of famous artists. See how they perform on stage. Notice their mannerisms and look at how they convey emotion during their performance.
How to entertain an audience
To encourage audience engagement, it’s important that your facial expression matches the feeling of the song. It’s no good having a frown on your face if the song is upbeat or a grinning from ear to ear if the song lyrics are full of sadness. The most common cause of a mismatched song and facial expressions is due to lack of confidence or focusing too much on words and timing. Try practising your song in front of a mirror and find an expression that looks genuine.
You can read some more helpful advice on live performance in this article.
- What makes a good live performance?
It can be hard to put your finger on the X-factor that makes an amazing artist so special. But it’s usually a mixture of charisma, talent, energy, skill and professionalism contribute to a great live show.
- What should I wear for a performance?
Clothes or a costume can impact your performance and help with audience engagement. Something fashionable and striking will work well. But ask yourself whether your outfit also matches the style of song you have chosen. If no, then there’s no harm in re-thinking your outfit. Not everyone can pull off a Lady Gaga number.
Which stage performance techniques do you use the most and which have been the trickiest to master? Let us know how you managed it in the comments below.