Building Stage Confidence for Singers | 17 Steps for Singing with Confidence

If youve never performed in front of an audience before, no doubt the nerves will be getting to you. Stage fright is something that can and will have to be overcome if you want to be a successful singer. And the good news is, there are ways to help build stage confidence and learn how to sing with confidence. 

Even professional singers like Adele, John legend and Lorde deal with nerves before performing on stage; singing to a room full of strangers can be frightening! But there are simple steps that you can take build stage confidence and minimise those nerves.

You can greatly reduce your performance anxiety and learn how to gain confidence on stage by being as prepared as possible and doing some simple exercises. Here are some great tips to boost your self-confidence, enhance your stage performance technique and put on a winning performance. 

How to be confident on stage while singing? Learn how to sing with confidence 

Maybe you’re wondering why performance confidence is such a big deal. After all, why would the audience care how you’re feeling inside? The reality is, that stage fright – if you don’t learn how to sing with confidence – can affect your vocals, your interpretation of the song and even prevent you from singing in front of an audience at all.  

The most successful performers in history have not been immune to extreme nerves. It can even be worse for them, as they feel a greater burden and pressure when putting on mega gigs to audiences of thousands.

It’s apparently the reason Victoria Beckham won’t be joining the rest of the Spice Girls on their reunion tour. The legendary songstress Barbra Streisand has taken long breaks from live appearances too, due to her own battles with stage fright.  

Building stage confidence is important for singers. Even if you’re primarily a recording artist, there’s always going to be an occasion when you need to perform a song in front of an audience yourself.  

Are you afraid to sing loud? 

You might plan on miming, to avoid having to sing out loud and so reduce any impact of nerves on your voice. But stage fright can also affect your ability to move around the stage, to remember the steps and the words and how to sing with emotion. And if you’re shaking and on edge, the audience will pick that up straight away.  

There’s a sweet spot somewhere between feeling nervous and relaxed, in which you can harness that nervous energy and use it to create an electrifying performance. Finding it might seem mysterious, but there’s a science to it.

Just watch how your stage confidence grows, when you take steps to reduce stage fright and gain confidence on stage… 

How to gain confidence on stage and combat stage fright 

how to be confident on stage while singing

#1 How to sing better: practice

Undoubtedly one of the best ways to become comfortable with something is to do it. Over and over and over. Firstly practice so that your performance is rehearsed to the full and becomes ingrained. Filming it and/or performing a few dry runs in front of trusted friends or family will hopefully make your performance second nature and you’ll know exactly what you will be doing when on stage.  

Some singers find performing in front of those closest to them, the most nerve-racking and small audiences more awkward. Get accustomed to those and you’ll probably take The O2 arena in your stride (although something in between is advisable first!). 

Book every gig and singing opportunity you can – large and small, near and far. Your stage confidence grows as your experience increases. You’ll learn how to navigate different venues, audiences and settings. Soon nothing will phase you.  

#2 Analyse your performance

Analyse some live performances by your favourite artists and see how they act on stage. See their mannerisms, how they use the space on stage and how they interact with the audience; this will help you incorporate elements of performance into yours.  

If you’re feeling nervous you can channel your idol – imagine you’re her or him, and picture yourself with their stage confidence and self-assurance. It’s mind over matter! Record your own performances and pay attention to how you appear. Do you look nervous? Are you fidgeting or showing signs of discomfort. If so, take some stage performance tips, to help you look more at ease and professional. 

stage performance tips

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How to get over fear of singing in front of others: tips for shy singers

advice for shy singers

#3 Relax

Fear is your ‘fight or flight’ reflexes kicking in. Your body is mistakenly thinking there’s danger ahead and sending a surge of adrenaline to help you deal with it. You can’t be truly relaxed and fearful at the same time.  

On the day try and release all tension and relax your body. This will ease your mind and steady your voice. Eat a small snack to settle your stomach, but not so you feel full. Chewing gum can help relieve tension in your jaw, but if you haven’t eaten, don’t chew for too long, it can cause digestion issues. 

#4 Meditate

It’s all very well someone telling you to relax, but if you’re stressed and don’t have methods to combat it, relaxation can be a challenging thing to achieve. Try meditating! It may sound silly, but it can help put you at ease.  

Find a quiet place, get in a comfortable position and shut your eyes. Think of a calming and affirming word or phrase that relaxes you, anything that isn’t your performance. Then think about it and repeat it slowly, while taking long, deep breaths in and out.  

How to sing without getting nervous

#5 Avoid caffeine

Try and avoid taking in caffeine. You may think it will boost your energy but it is more likely to give you even more jitters and nerves. Not to mention it is bad for the vocal cords.

If you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, it can even make you shaky – not a good look when you’re aiming for calm and serene stage confidence.  

Caffeine good or bad for singers

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#6 Get some exercise

Get some exercise. Aim for at least half an hour a day, five times a weekIt can be anything from a jog or a long walk to a weight lifting session. This will release tension and get the endorphins going.  

Exercise has the added benefit of helping you look good too. Not just your body – the regular flow of blood and oxygen will improve your skin and hair and give you an all-over glow. Looking and feeling healthy definitely helps in building your stage confidence when you’re out there in front of a live audience.  

#7 Laugh

Laugh often. Watching a comedy film in the morning or hanging around with friends before the show. Laughing will relax you and ease the nervousness. 

Laughter also indicates carefree confidence – providing it’s not a nervous laugh. If appropriate for your set, you could incorporate it while chatting to the crowd before, or after, your number. Perhaps tell them a relevant amusing story.  

How to calm nerves at an audition

how to not be nervous for a music audition

#8 Be early

Show up early. This will relieve any nerves about being late or having any last minute hitches. There’s nothing more likely to put you on edge than being stuck in a traffic jam en route to a gig, wondering if you’ll make it on time. Plus if you have a reputation for being reliable and punctual, you’ll get more gigs in the first place.  

Arrive early and you’ll have plenty of opportunity for a warm-up, sound check and to settle and compose yourself before you start.   

#9 Create a ritual

Try creating a pre-show/audition ritual. You would be surprised how many singers have one. Whether it’s something as simple as having a game of pool two hours before the show or something more complex like an hour gym session followed by a walk and ending up with you watching your favourite TV show. If it works for you and puts you at ease, do it 

Pick something that makes you feel confident and self-assured if possible – this is why many performers use a song like the Rocky theme tune as a way to get into the zone. It gets the blood pumping and produces a ‘go get ‘em’ attitude. 

Giving a confident on-stage performance: tips for shy singers

Tips for Being Comfortable on Stage

#10 Move around the stage

Now that you’re prepared as best as you can (which will help you overcome the stage fright), it’s time to put into practice all the rehearsing. To ensure you perform to the best of your ability, move confidently on stage. Nerves can have opposite effects here – either making you move too much, or causing you to freeze on the spot.

Plan your moves ahead so that you don’t move frenetically around the space once on stage or stand stock still looking scared. 

#11 Maintain eye contact

Now that you’re prepared as best as you can (which will help you overcome the stage fright), it’s time to put into practice all the rehearsing. To ensure you perform to the best of your ability, move confidently on stage. Nerves can have opposite effects here – either making you move too much, or causing you to freeze on the spot.

Plan your moves ahead so that you don’t move frenetically around the space once on stage or stand stock still looking scared. 

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#12 Let it flow

fear of singing in front of family

Think of being fluid when you go stage, especially if you’re singing several songs. Avoid long pausesbetween each one – fill gaps with a slick verbal intro, and if there’s a lengthy instrumental section, plan ahead what you’ll do during it (look to famous artists for tips on how to fill for maximum effect). Every second on stage is precious. Don’t waste anything, as it’s all valuable time to perform, whether it be something big and visual or subtle. 

 A lot of new singers worry about mistakes, but the trick is – don’t make errors known; chances are the audience didn’t even notice it. Hold your head up high, smile, emote and carry on like nothing went wrong and you’ll look like a true pro. If you forget the words, improvise.

And if you get lost in the track, calmly listen out for the next opportunity to pick it up – just don’t let your facial expressions tell the audience that’s what’s happening. 

At times, you may experience technical problems with equipment and playback. Be prepared for this and have some banter ready for such scenarios. It’ll be super awkward if you stand in front of the audience not knowing what to do. 

So make a joke of it, let them know it’s getting sorted and use the opportunity to your advantage by plugging your upcoming gigs, new tracks and telling the audience how to follow you on social media. Not only will it help your career, but you’ll also appear impressively in control,

Helpful stage performance techniques 

Show emotion on stage

#13 Show emotion

Show emotion to the crowd. Look happy to be there and interact with them during and after songs. Showing them that you are having fun will, over time, loosen you up to the point nerves will rarely be an issue and you will be itching to get up on stage every timeWhen audience members are moved by, or have fun during, your performance, they’re a lot more forgiving of any mistakes and imperfections in your act.  

How many times have individuals with less singing ability than other contestants had success on TV shows like The X Factor because they put on a great show and won public votes? Combine strong vocals with the ability to perform and show emotion (whether it be happy, sad or mad) and you’ll be going places. 

#14 Watch your hands

Know what to do with your hands! If you are flapping them about or have them in your pocket it’s not going to look that professional. Confident body language sends a clear message to those watching you. The more confident you appear, the more confident you’ll start to feel. And the more confident you feel, you the more you’ll appear confident. This is how it grows.  

Generally speaking, changing your behaviour is easier than trying to change how you feel. So start with what you do, and your emotions will follow suit. Hands are a great place to start, as they are often the first part of the body to give away hidden nerves.  

#15 Get a gimmick

You could consider bringing in a gimmick. Costumes are a common one, wearing something that will get people talking – Lady Gaga really knows how to work this with her eccentric outfits. Or creating some stage props to have on hand to mess with. Only use it a prop or costume if it can be maintained though.

If you get too hot, you can’t take the costume off mid-set unless it’s built in as part of the gimmick – remember when Bucks Fizz tore off their skirts at Eurovision?. It needs to be something achievable. Although sometimes you do need to suffer a little for your art.  

How to be confident on stage dancing 

#16 Be energetic

Try and have energy in your performance and right through your body when dancingMake use of the stage, go from side to side and interact with the fans. If it’s an appropriate song jump around and avoid standing there listlessly. Have your spatial awareness tuned in to what’s happening about you and so you don’t get carried away and fall off the stage 

As long as you are confident in your abilities, entertaining should come naturally. 

#17 Learn your routine 

If there’s choreography involved, learn your routine as well as your lyrics. How can you be confident on stage dancing when you don’t really know the moves? Get them down and then you can be bold in your delivery and define every step. 

One of the very best ways to build stage confidence is to perform live on stage, enjoy it and get good feedback. This is the biggest booster of them all. But performance confidence comes as a result of practice and preparation.

Employ these 17 techniques ahead of coming face to face with a crowd, learn how to sing with confidence, and you’ll grow into a self-assured singer, working toward professional standard live performances. 

Have fun and own that stage.

Related questions 

  • How can I be confident in a singing audition? 

Auditions can be especially nerve-racking. Building your stage confidence will help massively. But it’s also worth keeping in mind that those auditioning you want you to do well. They’ve most likely been in the same situation as you many times, so have a lot more empathy than it may appear. 

  • How can I talk more confidently? 

You may have to chat with the audience as part of your set – something singers can find scary. Practice speaking clearly and slowly, as we often speed up when nervous. Breathe deeply and follow the same principles as you would when singing.  

  • I have to sing in front of my class: how do you sing in front of your friends? 

This is your time to shine and show them what you can do. With those you know well, direct eye contact can distract you. To ‘cheat’ it, look just above their heads, focus on the emotion and meaning of the song and try to switch off the part of your brain that’s wondering what they’re thinking.  

Have you experienced stage fright? Let us know how these tips have helped you you in building stage confidence by leaving a comment below.

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