When it all comes down to it, the most important skill you can develop as a performer is confidence. I’m not saying become a diva with a massive ego. What I’m referring to is the opposite of self-consciousness. A healthy dose of confidence allows you to let loose and have fun. Below are some attitudes that will help you improve your experience in front of an audience.
Celebrate Mistakes: Each and every time you perform, you take a risk. You might fail! That’s o.k., because each time you make a mistake you learn something. It might be a simple lesson like learning you need to practice more or that drinking milk before you sing is a bad idea. I’ve gulped down too much water waiting for a solo and learned that it is quite distracting to need to go the bathroom. It may be the hard way to learn, but it’s also the fast way and much more likely to stick.
Overcome Perfectionism: Along with celebrating mistakes, realize you can never be perfect and sometimes you don’t want to be. Louis Armstrong often created a slow vibrato using his jaw, and his growly tones weren’t entirely healthy. He traded technical perfection for style and it worked magic. His imperfections made him human and relatable, and the same is true for you.
Accept Rejection as a Part of Life: For most people, the real fear of performing boils down to rejection. You want people to like your voice. Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone and rejection happens. Most of your negative experiences will come from insecure and unhappy people, who sometimes feel better about themselves when they make others miserable. They aren’t really rejecting you, the true source of their pessimism is their own self-hate and it’s best just to view their critiques as a cry for help. At the same time, every person in the world is truly and sincerely rejected at one point or another no matter how amazing they are. Just look at the current Dalai Lama. He’s beloved by most of the world and lives in exile. If you still dread hurtful words, it might help you to research your current idol and notice how often they are rejected. It happens to the best, the worst, and everyone in between.
Take Criticisms as a Gift: Most of us can take constructive criticism the way it is offered, as someone trying to help and a learning opportunity. Not as many people can take advice in a form that is not as useful or sometimes unkind. Most likely no matter how the feedback is given, the person that gives it sees your potential and is only sharing because they are invested in you. Even if the critique is as bad as, “don’t quit your day job,” you might be surprised how much you can learn by asking a few questions. On the very rare occasion a person is just being unkind, walk away. You will gain a lot more confidence as you learn to accept feedback as a gift from a friend who just wants to support you.
Realize the Audience Wants You to Succeed: Most audience members are rooting for you and are willing to excuse even the biggest mistakes. Why? They are there to have a good time. If you give them that, then they are happy. Positive energy is contagious and will infect your audience with a forgiving attitude. Roll with the punches and you’ll be astonished by how sympathetic people can be. Just continue having a blast even during your worst performance. Sometimes the true success is just getting through a night of endless mishaps while keeping a positive attitude. Certainly, all that good karma gives you a lot of confidence and makes for a successful performance.