[This article was written by guest contributor, bandleader, and producer Tony Ozier.]
To deliver your best stage performance, you need to:
The first item of business is actually preparing a stage show—this makes all the difference. When you step on stage, you want to know what’s happening at every moment. That’s difficult enough as it is, but during your performances, you need to stay open to the possibility of things shifting—you will need to improvise. The more you know the material, the easier it will be to perform and have fun. The path to success is through rehearsal and practice. Rehearse and practice. Rehearse and practice. You get what I mean! Do this all the time.
As a performer, you are a conduit of collective energy. Make it your mission to deliver the energy generated from the music and your fellow musicians directly to the audience. It’ll be so obvious when you’re doing it right because the audience will return the energy to you—the music becomes your vocabulary for this amazing exchange. This is what gets a show buzzing.
Always check in with your own personal energy before even arriving to the venue. Then, take any pre-show time to release any stagnant or negative energy before performing. You owe it to the crowd, and you owe it to everyone else on stage. Life happens everyday, things can go down that leave you feeling blah, but creating a performance that’s uplifting and inspiring takes your ultimate focus. Zone out, meditate, pray, laugh, cry, whatever you need to do, just do it. My preference for release? We like to laugh!!
If you want people to dance, encourage them. Often the crowd doesn’t know what’s “allowed” and they’ll hold back. Let the audience know they’re in a judgement-free zone, so it’s ok to let go and shake some booty on the dancefloor!
Evaluate each performance. In addition to audio, record video of your performances so you can replay the stage show and critique. Pay attention to which material worked, while also looking for moments that detract from the show. Ask yourself questions: Does it look like I’m having fun? Is the audience having fun? And look for places in the show where you can add more encouragement and even more energy exchange. You’ll typically know when something is “off” while performing on stage, so also practice rewinding the show in your mind, so you can train your brain to notice areas for improvement and make adjustments on the fly. And, always go back to my first tip and repeat!
Cycling through these five exercises regularly will strengthen your ability to deliver your most remarkable performances.