Stage Presence For Kids Entertainers
I do many shows each month. Recently, at a “family night” stage show held at a school, the principal came up to me afterwards excited to talk to me about my performance. I had slipped in some new tricks and ad-libbed some jokes, but I was surprised that she didn’t mention them at all, she just went on and on about was how I had such a great “presence” on stage.
She kept saying how it must be something I was “born” with, and that got me thinking about what “presence” is.
I honestly don’t think it’s something people are born with. I know no baby comes out of the womb and goes “Hey Doc, that was great. Thanks for getting me out of there!”
What is the secret?
It is definitely a learned technique, and I feel it requires a lifetime of constant practice in the same way that major league athletes still practice every season and workout before every game.
It’s part confidence (which can be faked, but comes so much more easily when you’re prepared) and part awareness. That means listening and thinking, plus being in the moment, and being able to improvise.
I like to think it’s like walking a tightrope over Niagra Falls: You may have rehearsed and practiced a thousand times in similar circumstances, but you will never know precisely which way the wind will blow on the day you do it. You won’t know for sure if it will rain during your walk, so the secret is that you’re prepared so that no matter which way the wind blows, rain or no rain, you can handle it.
And in my show, that’s what the audience marvels at: Not just the bare skill of being able to walk a tightrope, or perform magic tricks or juggle or whatever, but being able to handle whatever might happen.
Volunteers come on stage who can say or do anything, stunts or tricks can go wrong. Recovering from these adversities may be the most impressive part. I suggest you plan some things to go wrong just so you can recover and impress the crowd!
Next episode I am going to talk about the intriguing topic of “Inspiration versus Imitation”.