Got an important gig coming up? Here are my top ten performance tips for singers to help you smash your next show out of the park!
I believe these tips will help you to craft killer performances every time.
Prefer to listen? Click below or download the audio here.
But before we begin, ask yourself a few questions.
What kind of performer are you?
There are many different types of performers out there. Some have masses of energy & perform insane dance routines, all while singing (Beyonce). While others are entirely chill & groove through their performances (Sam Smith).
Some are wild in their appearance & costuming (Lady Gaga) while others dress in something as simple as all black (Adele).
Still, no matter what they do while they’re on stage or how they look, all have one thing in common – they connect with their audience & that, as well as having fun is the ultimate performance goal.
Where are you performing?
Big stages or venues vs small intimate spaces & audiences can call for a different approach to performance elements. You may want to modify your performance to suit the audience & space. Bigger visuals or presentation for bigger spaces & less dynamic for smaller spaces.
When are you performing?
Is it for a day show, are you the support act, or performing as part of a festival up? These things can impact the song & styling choices & also the length of your set.
Who are you performing with/to?
Be mindful of adapting & working with your fellow musicians & artist. The dynamic can be a lot different being a backing vocalist as opposed to lead or featured vocalist.
Also, who is your audience? Knowing who is going to be there can help you to have your performance as well as what you might say in-between songs.
If for some reason, it is an audience with kids, you may want to consider the language you use!
Why are you performing?
What is the big picture reason you are performing? Is it to get more exposure, test out new music, an album release tour or to get more performance experience?
Knowing your “why” helps you to shape your performance expectations with clarity & focus on all the elements that go into making a performance great.
What do you want the audience to feel & experience? What do you want them to walk away feeling?
This can be fed from the big picture but should be a primary focus at all times. After all, it’s those relationships & connections that matter & what you build your career as a performer.
If you have an understanding of the “what, when, where, who & why”, the “how” leads to my top ten performance tips for singers.
My top ten performance tips for singers
To gain confidence, use the four P’s – Prepare, Practice, Persevere (& have Patience), Play (Perform & have fun!)
I also use the acronym P.R.E.P to help me prepare for performances:
P = Perspective – understand where you are at & what you need to focus on.
R = Relax/Release Tension in your mind/body/voice – have pre-gig rituals including a solid physical & vocal warm-up you can use.
E = Engage in the performance (or practice). Connect with your band & the audience.
P = Perform & Play – have fun!
2. Start performing before you set foot on the stage
The minute you can see the audience & they can see you; the show has begun!
You should also consider extending your performance energy (& using your voice technique) before & after the show, especially if you need to do any signing, meet & greets or interviews.
Sometimes we can fatigue our voice & minds by not factoring the entire time that we will be “on show”. Use your voice technique when speaking before & after a show.
3. Use your eyes
Make eye contact, look at peoples foreheads or to the back of the room just above their heads when in a large space to help connect with your audience. It’s a (musical) conversation after all.
4. Own the stage
Be mindful of the space you have to use both from a performance but also a safety perspective!
It’s also good to know where everything you need is located.
For example, instruments, water, towel and mic stand, all at the right height and easy to access.
Make sure leads are tidy and that you can move around comfortably or execute choreography safely.
You should create a technical rider for both your sound and stage plotting (who is in stage and where they all stand), ready to give event organisers so they can help support you to get the stage ready for you in advance.
Once you have made the stage set up your own, the confidence you have on stage helps you have a great time & engage the audience that much better.
For great singing & exuding confidence in ‘owning’ the stage, use your posturing. It is a small yet subtle game changer for both stage & vocal performance through anchoring & neutral body alignment.
The general rule is Think, Gesture, Sing – The thought occurs, begin the gesture & the words follow. Practice speaking your lyrics & see how you naturally gesture in response. Tailoring your movement to the style/tempo of the song is critical as well.
A ballad may not have as much physical movement due to the tempo & standing still might look out of place in an uptempo song.
Remember to not ‘act’ out the lyrics with movement. Be tasteful & let the song content & personal performance style help to guide you to the ideal performance.
Video yourself rehearsing/performing & watch back to give yourself some constructive critiques.
If you need help, check out my video performance reviews.
Watch performances/performers you like that & get inspired. Borrow the ideas you like then make it your own. Practice in front of a mirror to see how you look.
8. Microphone Technique*
Learn how to use a microphone properly! On a stand, holding it, putting it back on the stand mid-song & most importantly tracking the microphone when you move your head.
*Sound Production can also help/hinder a performance. It’s a good idea to know what you like to hear in your monitoring (if using it) & be able to communicate this in industry recognised terms.
Be kind & respectful to the sound & production team as they are there to help make you look & sound good!
Wear clothes that make you feel fabulous, are functional & appropriate for the performance (costumes in a musical theatre show or a frock at a black-tie event) & show off your signature style.
Above all, you need to feel great & be able to perform without the physical restrictions of heels that are too high (can put your posture out of whack) with clothing that is restrictive or falling off & you are worried/hitching garments throughout the performance.
10. Have fun
Having fun usually happens when all the above elements align. Still, it is essential to enjoy yourself as that energy is contagious & can be the most straightforward way of connecting with the audience.
Let me know if you have any other tips that work for you & that I can add to my list.
Most importantly, go get out there & get performing & have fun!