Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big advocate of making eye contact with the audience when you sing. In fact a while back I wrote an article spelling out specifically why you should never sing entire songs with your eyes closed.
But let’s face it, there’s a reason why many people would rather close their eyes than look at the audience. The fact is, not every face you see in the audience is kind. And it’s already hard enough for some people to get up there in the first place. Now you want me to open my eyes too Ron?!
Well, yes I do. And if you think about your performances as mini-messages, or conversations with the audience it should become obvious why you’d want to look at the person you’re conversing with or delivering a message to once in a while. But the reality is no matter how well you’re doing there will always be people in the audience who seem less than enthusiastic about you. They may be looking at you with a blank expression, a mean expression or maybe not looking at you at all. There may be people in the audience who are completely immersed in some mundane activity like rumbling through their purse, or looking at their cell phone.
But audiences are a lot like life. They both have good and bad, positive and negative elements. So the best thing to do with an audience is the same thing we do with life. We avoid focusing entirely on the negative aspects and instead focus on the positive. Because you see just like there will always be people in every audience who aren’t feeling you, there will always be people in the audience who are.
You won’t be reaching or blessing everybody. That’s life. So the best thing to do is simply focus your attention on the ones you are blessing and reaching. A simple way to do both- increase your eye contact while also avoiding as much as possible those faces that may discourage you is a performance technique called the “Four Square” method.
To do this, you mentally divide the audience in to 4 square sections. As you sing, you simply move your eyes from one square to the next, then the next, and so on. But here’s the key! Most of the time there will be at least one or more people in each one of those sections who are with you all the way. They are enjoying you, being blessed, smiling or praising God, standing , whatever they do when they’re being blessed.
Your job is to find and focus on those people in every one of those sections. Look at the first section, make eye contact with the people being blessed. Move your eyes to the next section, do the same thing. Just keep your eyes moving from one “square” to the next, making contact with the people in that section that are being blessed by what God is giving them through you. You’ll be encouraged by them and they’ll get an even deeper connection with the song because of your direct eye contact with them.