One of my roles is Vocal Coach and I’m spending many hours working with some Middle School singers this month while they are preparing for auditions. Some of the work we are doing is very technical—breathing, tone, pitch—but some of the work is on their presentation. Especially with the exceptional singers. And this work is making me think about the presentation in other areas of life.

Whether you find yourself in an elevator with someone you want to connect with, in a job interview that you really want to ace, or even meeting with a client about a project, the level of confidence in yourself that you express could be the difference between success and frustration. Here are some tips for expressing yourself confidently (even if you may not feel it) in singing and in life:

  • Keep a level head. Literally. Your chin should be neither lifted nor pushed down but in a comfortable position. Try thinking of a string coming out of the top of your head that attaches to the ceiling. Ballet dancers use this image and it really helps to put your body in balance.
  • Turn up the volume. Not a lot, but speaking a bit louder than you would in a typical conversation will add more energy and timbre to your voice. Practice when you introduce yourself. Saying your name slowly and clearly is a great way to get in the right place.
  • Focus. Making eye contact alone is not enough; you must hold eye contact for three to five seconds to make an impact. Watch movie actors. The “great ones” don’t even blink while the camera is on them. It’s quite amazing and one of the reasons they are the “great ones.”
  • Make statements. Many people allow their voices to go up, the way we do when we ask a question, at the end of sentences. Practice your interview answers so that your sentences come to a definite conclusion. 
  • Don’t hem and haw. Or um and you know. If you are in the habit of using sounds and repetitive phrases to give yourself time to think, practice your stories with trusted friends who will tell you when you do so. It’s hard for any of us to hear these things in our own speech, we are so used to them.

Thinking through these tips, I can see how they also apply to my Middle Schoolers. They need to sing well, sing strong, keep their focus, and project the emotions of their songs clearly and definitively. I know they can do it. Can you?

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative