How to Talk On Stage

If you're like me, the idea of talking, on stage, to the audience, scares you to death. Here are some tips that I've developed over the years that help me survive the emotional trauma of talking onstage, and hopefully, they'll either be ridiculous enough for you to laugh (laughing is good), or clever enough for them to work amazing for you. Whatever option is best. So. On with it.

1. Develop a few tricks you can do to be hilarious. Some of my favorites are:
a) Talking about myself in the third person, like, "the next tune I'm going to play was written by a local artist, we're pretty good friends although she's a little too weird for my tastes. Kate writes amazing music and this is one of my favorites of her's." Or something...
b) Laughing at yourself when you--INEVITABLY-- say something stupid. Occasionally, my mouth will open and a sentence will come out that's really funny even though I wasn't expecting to say it. And then I burst out laughing at myself. The audience likes this for, I'm sure, multiple reasons, but I have no idea what any of them are.
c) Giving your audience "points" for random things. This is best reserved for only once or twice per show because it gets old fast, but... It's very funny for the performer to say, "woo hoo! Y'all made it through the intermission! You get five points!" or whatever.

2. Be honest. If the guitarist's string breaks and he's taking five minutes to change it, suddenly, you have to TALK TO FILL IN THE SPACE AND IT GETS VERY AWKWARD. Been there. My dialogue went something like this, "I don't know what to say. My guitarist's string just broke, so now I have all this space to fill up, but not enough interesting things to talk about. Like, I know I'm talking and everything, but I'm not really talking about anything. I'm just filling up space so my guitarist can change his string." I was smiling the whole time of course, and talked tangents off this conversation about LITERALLY nothing until the string was up and jogging and the audience and I was both in tears from laughing so hard. I was painfully honest about how awkward I felt at that moment and it went over quite well. 

3. BE awkward. I'm not kidding. Every. Single. Person. In the audience would be awkward doing what you're doing (okay, maybe there's that ONE person...). If you're not afraid to show that you're human, and awkward, that gives you instant relatability to the audience. They love that. I'm not saying you can curl up into a ball onstage and cry. You still have to "man up" to your task, but it's okay to be relatable and awkward while "manning up".

4. Don't plan what to say beforehand. Audiences like it when it seems like you're just talking naturally on stage and just thinking of things and funny conversation on the fly. I've not found a better way to appear spontaneous than actually BEING spontaneous. 

5. Know the stories of the music you're playing, but don't rehearse telling that story... This one is related to the above. When I'm in "performance mode", my brain is working overtime creatively to help make music come alive. I've found that I ALWAYS find a new funny thing to say about this tune, or a weird impression about that tune, if I allow my brain to continue being creative even while I'm introducing the songs. So don't reduce the creativity that your brain is already in by imposing too much fore-thought and planning. 

6. Just. Talk. The audience wants to hear your voice. Even if you lose your thought process and end your sentence with a super awkward, "so.... yeah." (done that SOOOOOO many times), the audience got a chance to hear you speak words out loud and now they feel like they know you a little bit better. This, my friends, is the point.

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