As a performer, your goal is to connect with your audience. You want to share something personal that is universal. One obvious way to engage the crowd is to talk to them. Let yourself be vulnerable, even a little silly. Share an embarrassing or funny story. Talk about your experiences in life that you feel are unique. Poke a little fun at yourself. It makes you more accessible and real to the audience. Share only as much as you want to share especially if you want to convey an air of mystery.
Not everyone is comfortable with opening up in front of an audience. Radio personality and author Devon O’Day (http://www.myspace.com/devonoday) worked at creating an on-stage persona to help her deal with nerves and stage fright. So, acting lessons are a valuable tool for developing a public persona.
An actor also gets into a costume and applies makeup to enhance the character they play. So it is with the performer who has an image to project. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or shocking. It does need to be something that makes you feel confident and is easy to separate from your onstage and offstage life.
If you’re not into style and fashion find someone who is such as a family member, coworker, neighbor or friend. Have them take you shopping to create the look that will help you feel confident on stage. Remember many popular entertainers are actually very shy. Think of the image you put together as giving you permission to cut loose.
Have you ever had a favorite article of clothing that makes you feel good about yourself? Do you have special accents like jewelry, a watch, a special belt or a scarf that makes you feel lucky or has sentimental value? Wear on stage what will project confidence and an image that your fans can relate to. You could even share a story about a special item or talk about throwing things together to get the right look. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself or be vulnerable.
And don’t just sing. Let yourself open up so who you are on the inside shines through. Tell stories. Smile. Laugh. Make eye contact with your audience. Singing is more than words and music. It’s about emotion and connecting with people. Let your audience get to know you. That’s how you connect.
To help yourself get comfortable in front of people look for every opportunity to perform that you can find. Look into charity shows, church activities, community service groups, for example. Look into acting lessons in your community theatre groups, colleges, adult classes, or private lessons.
For those who live in a rural community such opportunities may be few and far between. Try getting together with four or five people you know who would commit to engaging in an actor workshop and wing it. Or form a book club and periodically act out scenes from favorite books. Have play reading parties where you get together and read a play out loud.
Acting lessons can be expensive. But believe it or not there is an online acting workshop that is free and can help you and your group get more comfortable onstage. Check it out at: http://www.redbirdstudio.com/AWOL/acting2.html
Videotape every live show you do and every performance activity in your acting lessons. Then take a deep breath and carefully review each that you record. It will likely be unnerving at first, but it’s the only way you’re going to get any better.
Be careful about eliminating or covering up traits that you feel are detrimental. Get a consensus opinion before you mercilessly tear into yourself. It’s quite likely that you have quirks and kinks that make you more endearing and human. In fact perceived flaws can become trademarks or selling points for your talent. Just like scar tissue and the breaks in bones become stronger than regular tissue once healed so it is with some perceived imperfections.
Learn and hone your craft. Strengthen your voice as a singer. Your voice defines that playing space where you are free to be as wild and open as your heart inspires. But here’s a word of caution. Don’t get so caught up in change or in creating an onstage image that you forget who you really are. Keep the two clearly separate. Don’t get so caught up in pretending or performing that you lose your authentic voice.
Every day answer the following questions: what is it I bring to the table that is worth serving? How best can my guests be served?