All bands have heard the term “stage presence” ad nauseum, often without a clear description of what stage presence is and why it’s important–and more importantly, how to develop it. Good stage presence is essential to a good live performance, but it takes a lot of work and practice to develop fully, much like anything in music.
Here’s a look at how your band can develop its stage presence to reach the next level of live performances.
1. Understanding stage presence – Stage presence is what makes Aerosmith better than an Aerosmith cover band; yeah, the cover band may strut like Steven Tyler, and the guitarist may have the swagger of Joe Perry, but Aerosmith was the first band to play that way. They create a unique performance environment in which they’re completely confident. Whatever they do, they seem to be 100% sure of what they’re doing, and regardless of whether you like it, that’s good stage presence. You need to have the same level of confidence and bring the same uniqueness to your band’s set.
2. Practicing – So, how to develop that sort of confidence? Practice, just like you would with anything. Obviously, you can’t really practice good stage presence in your home, but you can take extra shows or play open mic nights to begin to get a feeling for how the crowd will react to certain things, and how your band can capitalize on that. Become confident with your songs, even if you’re not there musically yet–and even if you have no confidence in your music, pretend like you do. Try doing things just for the hell of it. If you’ve got a lyric in a certain song that makes you want to run across the stage or dance like an idiot, do it. Pretend the crowd’s not there, and you may have a great shot at winning them over.
3. Mic Time – A big part of stage presence is good mic time, that is to say, the time when a singer or other band member addresses the crowd. I could write a hundred articles on this, but suffice to say that it requires practice, and until you get a good grip on how the crowd will react to you, focus on keeping your mic time short, and if you say something to a crowd that works (i.e., gets a laugh, gets them excited, whatever you’re going for) use it at future shows, and try to consider why it works. You’ll get a handle on things pretty quickly.
4. Hamming it Up – Last but not least, when you get on stage, experiment and leave your inhibitions at the door. You can’t develop stage presence by being self conscious, and you’ve got to consciously think, “tonight I’m going to be the person most into my music.” After all, if you want your fans to react to your music, you need to break the ice first and show them how it’s done.
Do you have any other tips for developing stage presence? Post in our comments section below.