Whether you’re playing a set at your local cafe, an underground house show, a sold-out stadium, or in your living room for your friends and family, there are many things you can do to ensure that your music comes across how you want it.
If you make these tips instinctive, you can focus more on the music you’re playing and get the reaction you want from the crowd.
1. Make eye contact
Just like when having a conversation with someone, how you manage your eye contact when you’re performing is very important when it comes to conveying the correct emotion. Even if you’re not on a real “stage,” per se, when you perform, you’re placed on an imaginary platform, with everyone’s attention drawn to you.
Very much unlike having a normal conversation, holding consistent eye contact with an audience member over a long period of time can have a negative effect, making them feel awkward and uncomfortable instead. It’s important to manage your eye contact where people can see your emotion and connect with you as much as they feel comfortable.
Closing your eyes can be effective when conveying introspective emotion, but doing it for too long can often distance people and make it harder for them to connect with you.
When I perform, I find that it helps to imagine a point above your audience’s heads, to give yourself somewhere to look without making audience members feel uncomfortable.
2. Find confidence through preparation
Holding an audience’s interest can be daunting. Expectations rise, and the attention is on you. The quickest way to lose this attention is by showing that you lack confidence or that you aren’t taking yourself seriously. Every show or performance is a way to gain new fans and supporters or to show a potential supporter or sponsor that you really mean what you do, so act like every show is the most important show you’ll ever play.
One of the best ways you can improve your performances is through preparation! You don’t want to get halfway through a show and realize you’ve forgotten your special capo or that special reverb guitar pedal. By keeping your mind at ease, knowing you’ve done everything you can before the show even happens, you can focus on bringing out the best in your playing. This gives off an aura of extreme professionalism (and confidence), and this is key when it comes to capturing your audience’s attention.