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Stage Presence - How to get it ?

27 Sep 98 - 01:55 AM (#39599)
Subject: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Les B

Last night I attended a concert by an emerging and exotic "folk" trio, who will remain nameless. At the end of the concert a respected critc commented that they had great voices but really needed to work on their "stage presence" I felt that too, but got to wondering just how an individual or group goes about developing "it" ? Any comments from those of you who have been down that road ?

27 Sep 98 - 08:39 AM (#39612)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Ian HP

A simple but very difficult question, Les. In my performing experience it is all about self-confidence and experience, which cannot be learned. With it comes the ability to SHOW the audience that you love what you're doing, and communicate those things which lessons can't teach. You cannot consciously work at it, though it can and often does come with experience. On the other hand, after years some people don't have it and others have it naturally. Is this all as hopelessly vague as I think it is??

27 Sep 98 - 09:42 AM (#39616)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Jonathan

Smile; even though youre faking, Smile even though you're shaking.....etc. J.

27 Sep 98 - 10:49 AM (#39618)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: John M

Make eye contact, but don't over do it. Don't be to serious. People love talent, but want to feel comfortable with you, never be condesending. Play in front of people as often as you can. There is no better teacher than experiance. Don't play too many lugubrious dirges, people love them, but get beat up . Set songs up if you can, and smile .

27 Sep 98 - 12:07 PM (#39625)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Chet W.

Some basics that I have learned: Audiences like songs more than instrumentals (unless you are playing to a room full of musicians and you really do have something to show). I limit instrumentals to one or two per set. It helps a lot to be comfortable (I know you have to have experience for this; I did) and to talk between songs. You have to communicate with the audience, but never (I hope this comes off the right way) forget that what you're doing, you're doing it for yourself. It doesn't mean nearly as much to your audience as it does to you. Performing, once you've got it in your heart, is a need, not a luxury. All good musical performance is also theater. You have to assume the "role" of a song. Otherwise they all sound the same, which can easily put off an audience.

Good luck, Chet W.

27 Sep 98 - 05:32 PM (#39666)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Jerry Friedman

Arthur Rubinstein suggested picking a member of the audience and performing to him or her. This may be harder for folk musicians who face the audience and need to make eye contact than for a classical pianist who usually faces sideways, but I'm passing it on in case you find it helpful.

27 Sep 98 - 05:48 PM (#39668)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Art Thieme

Mark Twain once said, "90% of life is just showing up!" Good advice. If you "just show up" the stage presence, if ya do it for enough decades, will take care of itself.


28 Sep 98 - 10:27 PM (#39806)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Moira Cameron

Most of what I learned about performing, or stage presence I learned by example. I was brought up surrounded by great 'performers' like the Friends of Fiddler's Green in Toronto, John Roberts and Tony Barrand, Louis Killen, etc. What these people did was really talk to their audiences as if the audience was a part of the whole. I really hate watching some so called performers today who simply play or sing their music on a stage without bothering to interact with their audience. Even if they are not perfect and awesome technically, I find myself bored if I'm not included in the performing relationship.

Of course, being a really good 'performer', or having really good stage presence, is not as simple as just talking to one's audience. However, I believe that is the basis on which to start. After a while, one improves. One thing that I find has helped me improve, even though it can be painful at times, is to have one's performance video taped. Watching yourself on tape is a sure way of teaching you what works and what doesn't.

28 Sep 98 - 11:19 PM (#39812)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Liam's Brother

1. Really knowing your songs.
2. Really loving the songs you sing.
3. Really liking (or respecting)the people with whom you sing.
4. Because you know and love your songs and like the people you sing them with, being comfortable, confident and loose.
5. Knowing as much as you can about the history of the songs you sing, enough to be able to tell people about them.
6. Showing up early or on-time for your sound check. Warming up before you start.
7. Writing out a set list with a few options so you can be flexible if necessary.
8. Not worrying (or thinking) about anything else while you're performing like "Is my brother, Liam, going to remember to turn on the tape recorder. I really need a live demo tape. Etc."
9. Getting plenty of rest before you perform.
10. Doing it a lot.

29 Sep 98 - 01:47 AM (#39835)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Dan Keding

Being comfortable on stage means you feel at home there, that you feel you belong at that moment doing exactly what you're doing. It sounds simple but there it is. Performing at every chance helps, knowing your material helps, being prepared helps, even going through ritual (changing strings before a gig, warming up, etc.) helps. But the main ingredient is loving what you do and knowing that this is what you do best and this stage is where you belong.

29 Sep 98 - 04:18 AM (#39860)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Alan of Australia

If you sing unamplified make sure you project your voice. You may be singing for yourself but don't sing to yourself. Some performers do. Sing to a person in the back row. Keep practising, it's amazing how much you will improve. The same applies to public speaking.


29 Sep 98 - 10:48 PM (#39984)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Stacy


Excellent question, and I'm glad you started this thread.

Sometimes I have the honor of sharing the stage with 3 young women who are the Houghton Sisters. When I watch them performing, I find my cheeks starting to ache because I honestly cannot stop smiling when I watch them sing! They are just delightful, and FULL of stage presence.

They do all the things that have already been mentioned
* Make lots of eye contact with people in all areas of the audience.
* Smile! Not only at the audience, but amongst themselves. I notice that they are animated, lively, and interactive with each other.
* Sharing the music with the audience, as opposed to having some special talent that is being flaunted at the audience .
* Being human. I have found that the audience really likes that. I'm not a professional by any means, and when my band performs and we start a tune, and don't really start well, we feels OK stopping and saying something like, "How about if we try again, and this time all play the same song at the same time?" I have found that audience appreciate this accessibility as opposed to being put off by "how unprofessional" it is.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet that has to do with stage presence is acknowledging the audience's applause. It may feel awkward at first, but looking at your audience with a nice smile and a solid, "thanks" is really important.

I'm looking forward to more advise, as this is a topic I have lots of room for growth.


30 Sep 98 - 12:41 AM (#39991)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Les B

Thanks for all the respones, this is really educational !! One of the criticisms of the folk group I referenced at the top of this thread was that they were too talkative, or "gabby". They'd rap for five minutes about how dry they found our climate, and then say, oh here's a song from our new CD and launch into it. They didn't "set up" the song as John M advised, and it was an eye opener to see an act be too "down to earth".

01 Oct 98 - 01:09 AM (#40127)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Big Mick

I have always had a natural way with a Microphone, but I may not survive a gig that my Irish band is doing this weekend. It will be a true test of our stage presence.

This weekend in Grand Rapids, Michigan is Pulaski Days. It is supposedly a weekend celebration of Kasimir Pulaski, a polish immigrant who fought in our Revolutionary War. The Polish-Americans have turned it into 2 1/2 days of drinking and dancing at halls all over the east and west side of town. Well, one local establishment in the heart of the Polish neighborhood decided he would do Oktoberfest as a change of pace from the 12 or so Polish halls in the area. He hired my strictly Irish band to play. So you have a rowdy Polish crowd (drinking heavily) at a German celebration, listening to an Irish band. If you all don't hear from the aul Big Mick after Saturday nite, you will know his stage presence wasn't up to the supreme challenge. :-))

All the best,


01 Oct 98 - 10:20 AM (#40161)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Alice

interesting thread. just bringing it back to the top.

01 Oct 98 - 11:16 AM (#40169)
Subject: RE: Stage Presence - How to get it ?
From: Allan C.

The most difficult concept for me to learn about performing was that I could (and should!) talk to the audience. Naturally, they come to hear the music; but they are also interested in such things as brief tidbits concerning the song's history or what it is about the song that appeals to me (why I choose to sing it). I was surprised to discover this latter item as being of anyone's interest but my own. Once I learned to speak to my audience, share a little with them, and, as mentioned above, to be human with them, the rest seems to have simply fallen into place. A good way to get feedback is to make yourself accessible after the performance and to listen to what people from the audience have to say about your "show".