Artist Development Spotlight Stage Pres

Published on September 30th, 2012 | by Hugh Hession


Talent contest spotlight – focus on stage presence

As a vocal coach, artist manager and a partner in the online discovery site TalentWatch, I specialize in artist development. I have the privilege to work with a lot of great talent. Often, I am asked to to be on the panel of judges for local and regional talent contests. I love doing this, because it enables me to get out and see vocalists that I otherwise would have never known about. It’s amazing to me the amount of talent, even in some of the smaller cities around the United States!

In preparation of talent shows, I find a common denominator with singers, is that they tend to focus more on their vocal performance and less on their stage presence. The result is a performance that was underutilized. It was ok, but could have been outstanding.

Some common performance blunders

  • Standing in one place (instead of utilizing the entire stage)
  • Lack of eye contact with the audience
  • A “painted on” smile or no smile
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Forgetting the words to songs
  • Underutilizing microphone/stand as a prop (they way you hold it, switching hands, tilting mic up etc)
  • Your appearance and what you choose to wear (projects your image)
  • Not using hand gestures to your advantage (putting hand on heart, lifting hand up, pointing to audience etc)

Don’t fool yourself. If you think that it’s entirely about your ability to sing, then you’re missing the point of what it takes to make it as a music artist. Vocal talent alone will not take you to the top. Think of your favorite music stars. Are they just singers, or are they entertainers?

Bringing that WOW factor

Entertaining and engaging the audience is an huge part of your delivery as a vocalist and performer. It’s that WOW factor that gives you an advantage and pulls the audience to the edge of their seats. Live show producer Tom Jackson (Taylor Swift, Casting Crowns, Jar of Clay) says it best: audiences see the music first. Then they hear it.

As a performer, it is you who sets the mood. You have complete control on how you want your audience to react to your performance. It’s never random. By saying “I hope that I do well,” merely demonstrates that you are not prepared! It doesn’t have to be that way!

The thing is, there is no school on teaching you how to perform. You have to place priority on it and find someone that is knowledgeable to help. Even the biggest stars have performance coaches!

Don’t exaggerate

Never exaggerate your performance. This only shows that you are compensating for never truly working on your show. However, when you choose to work out the variables of your performance and practice them, you will find that the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. When you pull of your show like it was a spontaneous effort (when we all know, you worked for hours on it), then you will have the audience in the palm of your hand!

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About the Author

owns and operates Emerging Artists Entertainment Marketing & Consulting, LLC - a company devoted to cultivating aspiring music artists, He is also the head of Hession Entertainment Group, LLC (artist management) and the Music Industry Liaison for the artist discovery site, TalentWatch ( He has over 25 years experience in the music business as a performer, composer, producer and artist manager. Hugh holds a BA in Marketing and is a professional member of NARIP and a voting member of The Recording Academy. He often speaks at seminars and workshops on artist development.

One Response to Talent contest spotlight – focus on stage presence

  1. jocelyn says:

    pls help wanna go for a contest next month am kinda nervous pls help me wit skills to be a professional

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