They say some of the best things in life are free. So in the expense-heavy life of a performing artist, a bit of free, helpful advice is generally welcome.
In this blog post, I’d like to offer a few different outlooks to help your confidence as a performer, reach that next level, and achieve a more satisfying and enjoyable performance for yourself. Lack of confidence is an issue with almost every performer—even the best—and whether or not we master ourselves in this way, there are some methods out there to help cope with self-doubt.
All in all, I’m writing this because a positive performance experience is worth its weight in gold—for both you and the audience.
I hope these four recommendations inspire you in some way and give you more confidence to bring your stage presence to life.
DISCLAIMER: I’d like to be sensitive to those enduring any emotional trauma which may impact their performing. Certain experiences can hinder our abilities as performers and tapping into one’s authentic self or thinking positively may be much harder goals to achieve.
1. Be yourself. Your true authentic self. There is nothing bolder than someone who embraces the most genuine version of themselves, both on stage and off. When one lives authentically offstage, it allows for deeper connections with others and the potential to create stronger bonds.
Same goes for onstage.
Let’s say you’re performing and you’re feeling excited. Show that. When you’re into the music, let the audience feel it too. If you’re awkward, embrace it. When you’re on fire, go for it. The audience will connect with your performance on a deeper level when you bring your authentic self to the stage.
This advice of course comes with the caveat that one needs to find balance in their performances.
Tap into what’s happening within you, embrace it authentically and I think the results will prove more fulfilling for all parties.
2. Open yourself to possibilities. The reason you are onstage is because someone believes in you enough to put you there. That should give you a tremendous amount of confidence. Now, when you’re onstage, things don’t always go as planned!
That’s when the fun starts.
Live theatre is exciting. When you embrace the spontaneity of a performance instead of trying to control it, you allow a more free version of your art to emerge by rolling with the punches.
Soooo many times during outdoor performances, bugs have flown into my mouth. Gross, I know. BUT … even that is a chance to connect with the audience. Acknowledge it and play with it.
They feel the honesty of where you’re playing a character that has a real moment. Everyone knows what it’s like to have something go wrong! It’s an opportunity, not a flub.
3. Keep defeats/mistakes as separate entities from yourself. Don’t let them define you, your musicianship, or your artistry. See the mistakes happen, acknowledge them, learn from them, but don’t let them become part of who you are.
When something doesn’t go as well as I hoped it would, I literally think:
“Oh hello, you just happened, didn’t you? You’re such a trickster. I should have known better but you caught me off-guard. Oh well! You need to move along now because I have more important stuff to do but I’ll come back for you later. I’m sending you on your way now. BYEEE!”
This helps me not beat myself up in the moment which is a tendency I used to have but didn’t serve my performing or my audience squat. I save that for later in the practice room. This also allows me to enjoy the good things of my performing which outnumber the bad—any day.
4. Pay attention to your inner voice. What is it saying? Does it believe in you? If it’s negative, is it possible to retrain that inner voice and practice positive thinking? The power of positivity has had a significant impact on my performances (and some major health benefits). Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s a scientific look at the power of positivity.
I’ve always had a knack for believing in myself even when things don’t go as planned (sometimes ignorance is bliss). I think that’s a big part of singing and the other part is years of training and technique.
When I practice my music, I pay attention to my inner voice. Is it trying to sabotage me? Does it encourage me to do my best or does it play on my fears and insecurities? If it’s the latter, I practice positivity by telling myself, “You’re such a good singer”. Yes, I really do this during music practice sessions when I work on some of my hardest phrases.
As silly as that may feel, it can do wonders to replace that negative thought with a positive one. Test this out during your next practice session. Keep the phrase simple. Here are some you can try:
- “You’re such a good musician.”
- “Wow, impressive!”
- “Smartly done.”
- “That’s gonna work really well in the hall.”
- “You’re amazing!”
Positive self-talk is something you have to practice along with your music, especially if negativity is getting in the way. Eventually, with practice, your inner voice can be retrained.
Sometimes we believe having a critical inner voice leads us to improving our crafts with all that analysis. My best advice is to use a positive inner voice and save the critiques for your lessons and practice room. Even hearing compliments after a performance you weren’t especially happy with (I’m the WORST at this!!) when all is going on in your head is, “that wasn’t my best” or “I should have covered that note earlier”, just say “thank you”, smile, and be gracious.
Now my inner voice sounds like this:
- “You’re gonna kick ass!”
- “That felt really good.”
- “That phrase wasn’t my best but I’ll show how great I can be with the next one.”
- “Damn, you’re kicking ass!”
- “Make a moment”
These are a few of my tips to help you feel more confident as a performer. Sometimes we get down on ourselves as entertainers but it’s our job to be there for the audience. See the audience, serve them and you will serve yourself.