A large percentage of worship leadership is visual. That’s why stage presence is so important. We want to be authentic in our movements with the sole purpose of helping to assist the church by inviting people to worship with all the means we can.
There’s no perfect formula for making Sunday morning worship more visually engaging, but here are a few ideas for improving your stage presence. It comes naturally to some people; but don’t worry, it can also be easily learned.
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What is stage presence?
The concept of stage presence is mostly concerned with outward expression. Outward expression includes body language and facial expressions, which are incredibly broad topics. If you’ve ever taken a public speaking or an acting class, you will know that body language is just as, if not more, important as what you are saying verbally.
In an acting setting, you use your whole body to tell a story. Some acting is all body language, and not a whole lot of speaking. In a public speaking setting, your body language complements the point you’re are trying to communicate. You are told to move around the space, use your hands a little, and make strategic eye contact. When leading worship your body is your instrument (especially if you are just singing).
What does stage presence mean in terms of leading worship?
When in worship, you’re having a conversation with God and your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you’re having a conversation with someone, you have specific things you do with your hands or your posture that complement what you’re saying (aka nonverbal communication). In the same way, when you’re worshiping, raising your hands or closing your eyes is how you are nonverbally communicating with God. Here’s a little bonus: if you do it, so will your congregation! As you probably already know, worship isn’t about performance. That being said, people still need to be engaged. How you move on a daily basis is how you’re going to move on stage.
The lyrics can be a big indicator of what to do with yourself. For example, If a song says something about raising your hands, do it. If a song is a little more thoughtful, don’t jump up and down. I think you get the idea.
Where are you supposed to look? Some people look at the back of the room, some look at other people in the band, while others look straight at the congregation…do what makes you feel comfortable. As leaders, we do want to be mindful of how much we close our eyes.
How can I improve my stage presence?
Good news! There are plenty of resources just for you and your friends. The easiest thing to do is watch videos of people leading. There are so many options, especially on YouTube. Just look for live performances of songs and groups you enjoy. Hillsong or Elevation are really good examples. They move around quite a bit.
You can also have someone record you, and then you can critique yourself.
One of the most effective ways to improve your stage presence is to create relationships with the people in your congregation and in your band. Being more comfortable with the people with whom you worship will help break down any “wow, I look weird” barriers. Also, once you deepen your relationships, you can more easily move together and make it fun.
Getting rid of distractions is another great way to help you feel more comfortable on stage, and will benefit you, your bandmates, and the congregation.