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How to Improve Stage Presence As a Lead Singer

Every aspiring singer should know that just standing and singing well on stage will rarely keep your audience engaged and interested in your performance. Here are some tips to help you play a great show.


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    Love the songs you sing. It's common sense, but if you do not have your heart and soul in a song you will come off as fake and/or cheesy. Even if it's a cover, try to relate to the lyrics and the feeling as much as possible.
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    Smile as much as you can. Even the most "emo" acts need to look like they're having a good time, because moodiness does not come over well to the audience. Let them see you are having a great time, and the effect will rub off on them. This doesn't mean you can't change up the feel for different songs, it just means you shouldn't look serious the whole time you are performing.
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    Move around! Come on, don't just stand there looking awkward! If you constantly move, even just a little bit, your motion will attract the audience's eyes. Good examples of singers who moved around a lot include Axl Rose, Freddie Mercury, Morrissey, David Lee Roth, Bruce Dickinson, Michael Jackson, Bono,, Hayley Williams, and Robert Plant. Look up some of your favorite artists on Youtube to see what they do on stage, and go onto the next step.
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    Steal moves from the big guys. Go ahead, no one is going to fault you if you take some pointers from well-known singers. Axl Rose was renowned for his stage presence, by fans and critics alike. Don't copy one person, and don't copy their whole routine. Take the bits that you enjoy the most and make them your own. Eventually, after seeing how comfortable they are doing "crazy" stuff on stage, you'll feel more comfortable in your body doing your own stage moves.
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    Learn to use facial expressions and poses to go with the emotions. Be careful not to tighten your throat or do other actions that would inhibit good vocal technique! Watch Geoff Tate for someone who correctly vocalizes while dramatically expressing emotions.
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    Learn when NOT to grab attention. Sometimes you have to let other band members steal some spotlight. Otherwise you'll become an egomaniac in others' eyes! Think of David Lee Roth! Although it's great to be a bit showy now and then, vocalists need to back off a bit.
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    Talk to your audience. If you involve the audience, they will be forced to pay attention. Freddie Mercury used to sing a line, then make the audience sing it back. Get the audience in on the songs. Ask them non-cliché questions, (Not, "How're we doing tonight?!), make them shout out, tell them you want to see a mosh pit and things like that, depending on your style of music.
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    If you play an instrument too (while singing), such as guitar or bass, and cannot move that much, use facial expressions or your arms and hands the most you can to make the crowd follow you and have a good vibe. A good "Come On!" followed by gestures will get the crowd going. Good examples: James Hetfield (Metallica), Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Geddy Lee (Rush), Matt Bellamy (Muse). Or if you play drums and sing, a good example is Aaron Gillespie (Underoath).


  • When you jam, practice as if you're in front of an audience. This will prepare you mentally for acting and moving in front of them.
  • Have an idea of what you'd like to do before you go onstage, and try to practice it. You do not want to become scared and stand still. Make vocal cues for yourself; when you say a certain word, follow it up with a hand movement, or make the audience sing a few lines.
  • Be sure to thank your audience! They gave you time to perform for them!
  • Do not overdo it. Experience will help develop your style. Let it be unique and not a parody.
  • Make a personal connection with the audience through storytelling or providing background about your songs, your band or yourself.
  • Let go. Once you have practiced and strained to get things smooth, the only way they will start to work perfectly is when you do not bother thinking about them and are just running on autopilot.
  • Make eye contact with the other members of your band and the audience.
  • Dance! Better yet, create your OWN dance moves. When Michael Jackson first did the moonwalk the audience gasped and it became one of the greatest live performances ever.
  • Take some acting classes if you feel you have trouble with your expressions or emoting.
  • Avoid becoming a "rock and roll cliché" which includes asking the crowd "How's everybody doing tonight," or "Come on everybody, make some noise."
  • Don't feel as though the audience is full of critics. If they had as much talent as you, they'd be onstage!
  • Try practicing in front of someone who you know will not be mean but they will be honest. Sometimes someone being straightforward is very helpful and will prepare you for what is out there.


  • Keep water on the stage to prevent you from dehydrating and passing out on stage!
  • Do not overdo the moving around, remember you are a singer foremost, hitting the right notes and staying in key is more important.
  • Do not forget to warm up your vocals before hitting that stage!
  • Do not complain! Unless it is something major, let it go. Do not ever talk bad about your band members, the songs, or the venue. You will run into trouble and you'll look petty.
  • Try not to be too messed up on substances or you will just run into trouble!

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Categories: Singing