9 stage presence tips to thrill your audience

Stage presence is something that all performers aspire to have. The ability to create an unforgettable energy that captures your audience’s attention and catapults you to success is the pinnacle of performing live shows.

In the modern music industry, you can hit the charts but disappear into obscurity if you don’t connect and resonate with your audience.

So, it’s never been more important to learn how to come across as an authentic and unique performer, no matter your goals as an artist.

Here are our top tips for improving your stage presence to build an audience that can’t get enough of your shows.


1. Understand your identity as a performer

A huge part of improving your stage presence is discovering your musical identity. What we mean by this is knowing how you want to be perceived by your audience when they see you perform.

While things like your chosen music genre, singing style, and dress sense can inform this, looking at your internal values and beliefs before you work on the exterior elements is a good idea.

Things that inform your inner identity as an artist include:

  • your musical influences
  • your personal experiences
  • your strengths and vulnerabilities
  • your perspective on the world

Starting here can help you establish and embrace the truly unique things about you and help you craft your external image and energy before you take to the stage.


2. Know your audience

This goes hand in hand with crafting your stage persona, as it’s easier to know who you are when you’re aware of who you’re performing for.

Think to yourself—who do you want to enjoy your music?

Most musicians want to inspire and light people up with their work or at least make them question something about the world. There doesn’t have to be a huge mission behind your performances, but there must be a reason you want to share your work with the world.

Let’s look at The 1975, a successful mainstream band with a solid fan base.

Whether you like them or not, they frequently make headlines through their stage presence. They know exactly who they speak to through their music and the characters they want to portray on stage.

The band’s frontman, Matty Healy, is known for on-stage antics, such as eating raw meat and cheekily mentioning controversial topics before the next song cuts him off.

He has an ironic sense of humour that resonates with their target demographic—predominantly young adults.

Speaking to the crowd at one of his recent live performances, Healy said:

“I’m only doing this because I want to make you guys laugh and feel good because that’s what my favourite art does.”

Use this example to think about who your audience is. It can help to think about:

  • who or what inspired you to write music
  • what kind of audiences you are a part of
  • how you want people to feel at your gigs


3. Create a unique look

Now comes the fun part. Once you’re in touch with yourself as an artist, you can begin crafting a look that reflects your personality and boosts your stage presence.

Whether you remember Nicki Minaj for her colourful outfits and wigs or Gene Simmons for his metal armour, eight-inch platform heels and demon-inspired makeup, you must admit that looks say a lot about a performer’s identity.

If you’re unsure where to begin, consider your favourite artists and how their wardrobe, makeup, and hairstyle contribute to their overall image.

Pair this with your tastes, such as colour palettes and eras that inspire you, and you can’t go wrong.

You can even take it a step further by considering what your target audience would expect a performer in your genre to wear and subvert some tropes.

Related: Ranked: The 10 best British bands of all time


4. Keep the energy flowing

One of the greatest stage presence tips is always keeping your audience’s attention.

Have you ever been to a gig where the performers don’t try to connect with the audience or allow the energy to lapse?

Chances are you have, as everyone starts somewhere, and no one starts with an amazing stage presence, but there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent making rookie errors.

The main thing is to avoid creating awkward or unnecessary silences by planning your shows and ensuring you have fillers for moments between songs.

Based on your persona and the energy you want to create, you could:

  • have some jokes or funny anecdotes prepared
  • tease or share banter with your bandmates
  • play some killer guitar, bass, or drum solos
  • encourage audience participation with vocals or gestures they can imitate
  • share the inspiration behind your songs, whether it’s funny, sad, or both (audiences love transparency)

You can sneak a drink of water or adjust your instruments without a problem, but don’t let the energy die down.

Find a way to distract the audience and connect with them while you’re doing so, and you’re good to go.


5. Work on your body language

Your stage presence will grow if you learn to leverage your body language to better connect with your audience.

While it’s certainly not easy if you naturally feel nervous or anxious, practice can work wonders for improving how you hold and present yourself on stage.

Practice standing tall with your shoulders back, head high, and chest out. Have your feet placed shoulder-width apart and take a deep breath to relax.

This is the go-to position to appear confident and keep your audience’s eyes on you. It will eventually become natural and make you feel more confident under the surface.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you may want to play with body language and expressions if that fits your style.

Meat Loaf took inspiration from his musical theatre background for his eccentric facial expressions and hanky-waving, and his quirkiness still resonates with rock fans today.

Bruno Mars has a confident, cheeky body language that matches his natural talent for dancing, which works perfectly for his mainstream pop persona.

Think of interesting artists within and outside your genre and study their body language for inspiration.


6. Remember, the stage is yours!

Staying in one spot is a sure-fire way to kill your stage presence. Don’t be afraid to take up the space that’s there and use it to show off your personality.

If you’re the lead singer, move around the stage, dance with your bandmates, and interact with every section of the audience (we have some tips for this below).

Stuck behind an instrument? You can still get involved—sing along or dance and remember to smile at your bandmates and the audience.

When you give it your all, the energy you put into your performance is infectious and contributes to the band’s overall stage presence.

Related: The most important warm-up exercises for singers 


7. Encourage audience interaction

Now, this one is a game changer for improving stage presence. Putting on a great show and showing off your individuality is one thing, but actively involving the audience in your shows takes things to another level.

Encourage the audience to sing a melody from one of your songs and get them to join you. Or ask them to clap or stomp their feet to a certain beat.

In a larger venue, you could divide the audience into sections and have them compete to see which group is the loudest.

Bringing a sense of unity and authenticity by connecting with your audience this way guarantees a memorable show for them.

Recording these moments and showcasing them online is a great way to market your stage presence and overall persona as an artist, alongside making the people who came to see you live feel like part of your community.


8. Steer clear of negative language

People come to live shows to escape the woes of everyday life. So, you want to keep the tone upbeat and positive to ensure they leave happy and spread the good word.

Avoid talking about anything too negative or dark, and don’t make sarcastic or self-deprecating jokes unless your audience already responds well to them.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where discussing controversial topics can damage your career, especially if things you say or do are shared online and taken out of context. If you keep things positive and focus on entertaining your audience, it’s much less likely to happen.

Don’t take this as a warning against authenticity, however. If you handle them carefully, talking about negative experiences is fine if the outcome is positive and hopeful.

A recent example is when Lewis Capaldi shared his experience of losing a family member due to poor mental health at Glastonbury.

But because he poured his sadness and vulnerability into a song that could help fans process their feelings of grief, this resonated with them, ultimately leading to them supporting him through a moving performance of the song.


9. Analyse your performances

It can be uncomfortable to watch yourself perform, but recording and analysing your shows is a great way to examine how the audience responds to you.

It’s also good for building your confidence, as the more comfortable you become with being uncomfortable, the more you’ll loosen up and get into the zone for performing.

Look for any lulls in energy or bored or disapproving expressions in audience members and note when and why you believe this happened. Show it to a friend or family member and ask for their opinion.

Don’t take it too personally if the audience picks up on your weaknesses. Try to see that you have something solid to work on as a positive, and you’ll improve your stage presence in no time.


Specialist musician insurance through Insure4Music

Whether you perform as a solo artist or a band, you may want to protect yourself through specialist insurance and ensure you can play at every venue—most require proof of cover before you play.

With Insure4Music, you can cover your gear against theft, loss, and damage either at home, at a performance, or during transit. You can also opt to include Public Liability cover, which protects you in case you injure someone or cause damage to a venue.

Click here to learn more about how we can help or click the button below to get an instant online quote.

Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.