Enlarge your comfort zone so that your fans are energized by your performance –says Linda Septien
Linda Septien knows about stage presence.
She’s coached Demi Lovato, Ryan Cabrerra, Selena Gomez, Jessica Simpson and Destiny’s Child – among thousands.
Her school is well known for its intensive stage presence training, compelling young singers to delve deeply into what it means to engage an audience.
Now Linda takes us behind the scenes to reveal insights that can help any vocal artist make deeper performance connections.
When you think of great stage presence, who is one well-known singer that comes to mind – and how would you characterize their presence?
Ricky Martin was one of the best because he combined timed gestures, dialogue, and attractiveness. Sarah Barelles is one of the best as of late. Her onstage show is amazing because she adds piano, comedy, timing, and likeability.
It often seems as if famous singers had this presence “out of the box”. Yet you must see a different side to this?
No, they did not. It takes lots and lots and lots – and lots – of practice. Years. An artist has to hone it. If they have a coach it helps, much like a trainer— because the coach can give choices that work.
You’ve run training sessions for hundreds of singers in this area. What is one of the most common barriers to an effective stage presence?
The inability to get out of a circular comfort zone. You must learn a library of moves that forces you out of your space.
What’s a circular comfort zone?
If you were to draw a circle around you (just as your own person, not as an entertainer) you have a comfort zone with people/life. That’s your space, so to speak. When people get too close and get into your circle, it’s uncomfortable. Also, when you reach out too much to people with your arms, body, etc. outside that circle, it becomes uncomfortable for you. We tend to stay within our space.
Sounds like that applies to all of us.
Some people’s comfort circle is bigger than others, but everyone has one. It is my job to find where that circle ends and burst a hole in it … and I burst a big one without them knowing it.
Can you give us one example of a move that can force a singer out of their comfort zone?
Which exercises I choose depends on the artist’s circle. Some circles are ridden with guilt, others with too much energy and they can’t focus … well, you get the picture. It has to do with personality and how that person has been raised.
Is there an exercise singers can begin with?
If I can just get them to exercise with their arms and legs while singing and then begin to make the steps wider and bigger as they become more comfortable, it is always a good place to start. An artist MUST NEVER stand still while warming up, practicing, singing, etc. The body MUST get used to moving while singing — using the entire stage.
Once trust is in place in your coaching relationship, what are some of the kinds of positive things that start happening in a singer’s performance?
The MOST positive reaction that begins to occur is that artists are able to relax and become reactive to their audience rather than “trying” to entertain. In fact, they become so good, they evolve into true improv. artists. They begin to “pop” and “lock” their bodies to timed gestures within rhythmic beats and look as if they have been on tour for years in a matter of months!
Anxiety before a show is common for many – what’s an effective way to combat this?
Exercising right before gig is very important … I have specific exercises for an artist 30 minutes before stage time. Exercise does NOT work though, if the artist is not prepared for the show.
Linda Septien has been teaching young vocalists for 24 years and has a sincere desire to reach into the hearts of each of her students and cultivate the commercial style, sound, and feel unique to each of the artists she trains. See www.theseptiengroup.com for more about Linda go here.
Featured image from vinni123 on Flickr.