This article originally appeared on Cari Cole's Standing in the Spotlight blog.
Every performer has good days and bad days. It’s par for the course. However, the goal of any superstar or rising star is that even on bad days, you still can rock the stage.
And that’s a tall order when your voice punks out on you, or you’ve got personal stuff to deal with, or maybe your label just dropped you... sigh. But you still have to go put on a show, no matter what. That’s the life of a performer.
So, how do you still strut the stage when you’re underwhelmed yourself? You gotta have a few tricks up your sleeve. Don’t worry; Mama’s got you covered. I’ve been in the trenches with artists over the past three decades and have some handy solutions for pretty much every possible scenario.
Besides my coveted list of natural remedies to recover your vocal health in a matter of seconds (find out more about all of that in my Vocal Road Warrior free three-part series here), knowing a thing or two about how to mesmerize your audience when you’re out of sorts is probably the most important thing you do as a performer. It’s not as easy as it looks, especially if, like most performers, you’re an introvert.
Boom. How did Mama know? Yep, most artists are the introverted, sensitive types. That’s how you write such killer songs that we all relate to. But when you’re onstage – bam. You come alive.
But performing is not about you – it’s about them. Your audience. To be on point every night, don’t focus on perfection, stay in the present moment, give yourself fully, and be with your audience.
1. Audiences respond to your energy, so turn it on
There are times when you have to perform that you won’t want to. Whether you’re battling some inner demon, the flu, or your record label, the show must go on. The good news is that people respond to your energy even more than your musical acuity. All you have to do is turn it on, and soon enough, you’ll feel it coming back in droves. The audience will energize you once you give it to them.
2. Make them feel special
Even though your audience is coming to see you, it’s not really about you. It’s about their connection to you and their experience at the show. It’s a great opportunity to bond. Welcome them, use their city name, talk about how glad you are to see them or how stoked you are to be “back” in their neck of the woods.
It seems obvious, but when you switch your focus away from yourself and onto your fans, it not only makes a more meaningful connection to them, it takes the pressure off of you and performing for them becomes fun!
3. Dedicate songs to them
Everyone wants to feel special. Every fan wants to feel important. Take a moment to think about what song you want to dedicate to your fans and why. Then share it at every concert. You may want to have different dedications for different locations depending on the mood, current events, or your history there.
4. Share yourself emotionally
The number-one thing that ramps up an audience is you. So all you have to do is plan to share as much as you can of yourself and your emotions in your songs. If you can go there all the way, so will your audience. And that creates a bond. People bond with you over what you give. “People won’t remember what you say, but they will remember how you make them feel.” (I don’t know who said it, but it’s so true!)
5. Conduct a sing-along
Nothing lights up an audience as much as singing along to a well-known song of yours or a cover. Usually the sing-along is best suited for the chorus, by turning your mic on them, or if your song has an “oh-oh-oh” or a “hey” background standalone part, like the Lumineers' "Hey Ho." Rehearse the audience before you start the song, with the band playing the loop of that section demonstrating their “part.” Rally the troops for at least one tune. Fun, fun, fun.
Cari Cole is a celebrity vocal coach, artist development expert, and new music business mentor. She helps artists and musicians find their voice, build their brand, and create successful careers in music. Grab a free copy of her Vocal Road Warrior three-part series: how to keep your voice healthy while you're out conquering your tour!