Friday, April 4, 2008

Communication: Head Up, Waist Up, Floor Up

Wednesday night, I was honored, even flattered, to speak to Apostolic Tabernacle Choir of Merced, California. This choir, under the direction of Mark Yandris (pictured above), is one of the best choirs in the nation. Their tight harmonies are a most advanced level and their articulation is clear, expression is strong, and enthusiasm contagious. Mark is a highly sought after musician among black gospel artists. His talent is more than learned, it is a gift. He asked if I would speak about stage presentation and then added a few other topics to the list. My first reaction was, "What could I do to help them??? They are the best!" I'm sure I didn't give them anything they hadn't heard before, but sometimes a different voice is needed.

I got busy working on my notes, hand-outs, and asking God to give me something beneficial. Then I tackled the requested topics. I spoke about choir decorum, importance of uniformity, choir stage presentation, solo stage presentation, working with your leader, and how to avoid burn-out and stay committed. The part I want to share with you is the key to any stage performance - communication. The break down: 15% of communication is content, 30% is tone/emotion, and 55% is body language or body movement. Communication is our way of connecting with people whether on stage, in a class, or home with family. Blogs can be difficult at times to understand because one reads the words in a manner they would express and may not be the perspective of the author. If a person knows of me but does not know me, they can easily misunderstand. Surely, if a conversation is face to face, it will easily be understood because my body language will communicate my sentiment and opinion. Ah, the woes of blogging! LOL If you are one who frequents a stage, remember your body language is of vital importance to connecting to your audience. Not from the head up, not from the waist up, but from the floor up.
P.S. Apostolic Tabernacle Choir is always from the floor up!


  1. Hi Jana, I bet you were great. I noticed when I saw you on the worship video (forgive me, but I don't know which church is which)that your stage presence was superb. That's why they asked you. You know how to communicate your message. That's obvious. And I've only a video of one song. You know that you are a part of the message.

    And you are so right about communication on blogs (or by e-mail).... so much is lost without the gestures and body language. It's easy to insult people. Especially for an out-spoken person.

  2. Helen - thanks for your kind words. I love to sing, but it must be with every part of my being.

    You are right about how easy it is to insult someone on a blog or e-mail. Fortunately, you and I have developed somewhat of an understanding of each other! LOL You are a much better writer than I am and you communicate well through blogs and e-mail. I think your personality comes through so well, that I have an imaginary voice for you. It is as if I hear you speak.

  3. Your talent is much needed, and I am thankful that this type of ministry is being recognized. Hope that this is only the beginning, and that others realize the need to develop communication, and most importantly, sing from the soul. May your calendar be full with speaking seminars. Jana, you have had since a young girl, a gifted talent that most never obtain in a lifetime. PS: Love Mark's music style. He is one of my favorites.

  4. Oh, Sis. Hopper - I don't know if I want my schedule to get any busier! But, I have heard it said if you want a job done, ask a busy person. LOL My work at the church is enough plus I am involved in the district ladies ministries and vocal coach. Mark's talent is so far above average. I sat in on his vocal class and the exercises he taught for articulation were incredible. he even has them doing their scales in three part harmony. He's so gifted.

  5. Jana I am sure you did very well!! I know the few points that you covered here were great! If you are up front and on stage people watch and connect/disconnect with you before you even step to the pulpit or the instrument or microphone. You are judged and a pass/fail grade has already been attached to your performance.

  6. Okay, I want in on the seminar. What do you mean by the breakdown: 15% of communication is content, 30% is tone/emotion, and 55% body language? Can you elaborate a little?

  7. Kevin - you are so right. Regardless of your content/message, people want to see it and feel it. Your body language sets the stage.

  8. VondeLeigh - I cut and pasted my stage presentation hand-out. I think the spacing may have messed up when I pasted it, but you should be able to figure it out.

    Stage Presentation
    Jana Allard

    Average people don’t understand music but they understand human behavior. On stage, our presentation is based on how well we communicate or connect with the audience.
    Communication breaks down like this:
    a. 15% content
    b. 30% tone/emotion
    c. 55% body language/movement
    To be a communicator from the stage, you need:
    1. An outline, or plot
    a. Songs
    b. Plan order
    c. Create atmosphere

    2. Substructure, or base
    a. Mental and emotional preparation
    b. Understand the audience

    3. Superstruct, or compose
    a. Components
    b. Technical things
    c. Talent

    4. Take command
    a. Bring your personality to the stage
    b. Direct your ministry
    c. Give your best

    There are four places attention should be directed by the performer:
    1. To the people
    2. To God
    3. To the other people on stage
    4. To our instrument (voice, guitar, keyboard, etc.)

    There are three ways people feel music:
    1. From the head up
    2. From the waist up
    3. From the floor up

    Create Zones In The Audience: Mentally divide the audience into three zones and build to nine. Be sure to look and connect with each zone during your performance. Work it from the back to the front. The people in front are already with you. Draw in those in the back, and work forward.

  9. You sing like a bird - God has blessed you so much that way. So you've got me no matter where I sit!
    I'm not making light, simply letting you know how much I enjoy your singing.

  10. Catherine - you are so sweet. Merci, beaucoup.

  11. Hey Babe--I was there and you did an awesome job-but then again you always do because you pour yourself into whatever you are asked to do. You are the greatest!

  12. Brian, my love - if the "two shall become one," then you are the greatest, too. I don't think we are really the greatest, but we do make a great team. Thanks for being the wind beneath my wings. Muah!

  13. Wow! This is really good. (thanks for the added info). I can't say I've heard it broken down exactly that way. I like how you mention that people communicate musically in three ways... but at the end you say people "feel" music those ways too. Good posting. Wish I had been there. I'm sure everyone loved hearing you sing during your "example demos". Post more on this whenever you feel like it... =D

  14. Sis Allard, You sell yourself short!!! YOU ARE AWESOME! I know I told my sister this time and time again and when she heard you sing in Eureka she said her jaw dropped. She said she knew you had to be good but just how great you really are, "WOW" is all she could really say. You do communicate from Head Up, Waist Up, Floor Up. There is no doubt about that. You put your whole heart, body, mind, and soul into your singing for the Lord. That is why you are my favorite singer. You are teaching your son, Bryce to do the same. God has mighty things in store for you and Bryce. Of this I have no doubts. Love you bunches!!!

  15. VondeLeigh - When Bryce was in Nashville for the Exalting Him competition in 2005, the finalists (who were put on a compilation CD and whose performances were televised) were given some classes by world renowned instructors. Just one of these classes would cost $2500.00 to $3000.00 for one day and Daywind provided this to the finalists at no charge. I have taken classes all over the U.S., college, etc. None of these compared to the instruction Bryce received in Nashville.

    So many classes I have been to focus on content and knowing your content. It really doesn't matter how good your content is or if you have it memorized or not. What matters most is connecting to your audience. Connecting/communicating to your audience is the key factor to any performance. I have heard people perform who had fabulous voices, their tone was nice and they had expression in their voice, but their body language was so dead the performance was boring. On the other hand, there are people who don't have the best voice and they are making millions because they know how to connect to an audience. I have heard people on the radio and wondered how did they ever get there? Then I realize, they performed somewhere and sold themselves to a producer. Their concerts are sold out and millions of dollars are rolling in. The break down may seem strange, but it is right. Really now, do you think Rod Stewart has a good voice?!?!? He sounds more like Daffy Duck. Sounding squeaky, he connected to audiences, is known around the world, and has sold millions of albums. There is so much to stage presence and presentation. I can't even skim the service on this blog.

  16. Jolene - you are definitely prejudice! LOL I know I'm not half as good you as think, but thanks for the compliment and believing in me. You will never know how much it means to me how you love my kids and support their endeavors. PK's lives would be so much easier if all the saints were like you. I love you dearly.