Got a gig coming up? Here’s how to make sure you’ll make a memorable impression, and leave your audience wanting more…
 1. Prepare. This should go without saying. When you get on stage you need to know what you’re doing. You need to know your material, your band (if you have one) or your backing tracks, and ideally you should know a little about your stage environment too (basically, how many steps you can take before you fall off the stage, what the lighting is like, how close you are to the audience, etc). You need to have all this basic stuff down to a T, so that you can focus on bringing your best, even through your performance nerves.
2. Look the part. We live in a shallow world, and first impressions count. Make sure you are dressed appropriately (don’t wear ripped jeans to a classical concert, or a ballgown to a gig in a dingy bar – unless being out of context is your ‘thing’). When I’m performing I rock the 1950’s glamour girl look – black dress, killer shoes, curled hair, red lipstick – but find a look that works for you, and makes it clear that you’re the star of the evening and not just the busboy/girl.
3. Look into their eyes. Not above their heads, not at the floor, in their EYES. They need to see that you believe what you’re singing, and that you’re singing it to them. That’s how you make a personal connection. I’ve seen hecklers undone by mere eye contact – it’s a powerful weapon, so use it to your advantage.
4. TALK to them. OK. I know this one is scary – but how many times have you seen rookie singers (especially those from classical backgrounds) get up on stage, sing their songs and run away again without so much as a by-your-leave to their audience? They may have lovely voices, but they’ll leave their audience cold if they don’t even explain who they are and why they’re there! If you want your performance to be memorable, you have to make it so. How do you do that? Bring your personality onto the stage. Yes, you can – and should – do that in song, but bring it in the breaks between songs too. Whatever style of repartee works for you, just do it. Tell a funny story, introduce a ballad with an emotional anecdote about the day your dog died (study Celine Dion for countless examples of tear-jerking speeches), or goof around on stage. Whatever you do, make sure it’s personal to you, and your audience will appreciate it, because it’s genuine.
5. Have FUN! If singing isn’t fun for you, what on earth are you doing all this work for? Remember that singing is a gift – a wonderful gift that you get to give to everyone who hears you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re singing to nine old ladies in a church hall, or at Madison Square Garden. The bottom line is that singing is fun, and if you’re having fun on stage your audience will be sure to follow.
Now get out there and SING!

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