I’m not ashamed to admit that I love karaoke.  I’m also lucky to have friends who enjoy song-slaying as much as I do.  So, every now and then, my friends and I put on our sequined Michael Jackson gloves and get together for a fun night of do-re-mis and fa-la-las.

For many people, however, karaoke is terrifying.  When they’re out to dinner with their karaoke-loving friends, they locate the closest emergency exit as soon as they sit down.  “The dog needs to be walked” or “My wife is waiting” are some of the excuses I typically hear when a person is trying to run away from the nearest microphone.  If you’re one of these people, here are some tips to help you overcome your fears.

  1. Go with friends.  Unless you’re secretly trying to score a record deal, you’ll be much more comfortable singing in front of familiar faces because you don’t have to worry about trying to impress them with perfect pitch or spot-on timing. It’s also comforting to know that you have people to commiserate with the next day as you think back on the failed antics from the previous night.
  2. Get familiar with your songs.  If you know you’re going to karaoke, it doesn’t hurt to pick your songs a few days in advance.  (No one has to know, right?)  I typically create a playlist of five to eight songs and listen to them on loop for about a week.  Believe me, humming along or mouthing the words for a few days will make a big difference when it’s time to deliver.
  3. Know your audience.  There are two types of karaoke venues – a public bar where your performance is for everyone’s entertainment, and a private space where your act stays within the confines of a reserved room.  (I personally prefer private rooms because there is a shorter wait when you put in a request for a song!)  But if you happen to find yourself going up on stage in front of strangers, make sure your song is appropriate.  I wouldn’t recommend signing the newestLil Wayne feature when the audience seems more of a jazz standard type.
  4. Time your song choice well.  It’s always good to start with an upbeat number that everyone knows.  Think Journey or Queen or Grease.  These usually break the ice.  Rock anthems also have a tendency to keep the energy in the room going.  If you must sing a ballad, save it for the middle hour or towards the end when people seem ready to call it a night.
  5. Share the mic.  When it’s too late to take back a song because you’ve already punched in those magic numbers, and you’re starting to doubt your familiarity with the song, pull in a friend.  Sharing the microphone with someone else will not only diffuse the attention, you and your buddy will also have fun figuring out those unfamiliar bars together.
  6. When in doubt, raise your voice. Some karaoke machines give a score at the end of a performance.  Unbeknownst to many, this score is actually based on how loud you sing into the mic – the louder you are, the higher your score; the higher the score, the louder the applause!
  7. Make your friends laugh.  Remember, you’re there to have a good time. When you take the mic, feel free to be silly – sing funny, dance awkwardly, do a faceplant.  The silly moments are usually what people remember most and what keeps you and your friends laughing for weeks to come.

So, there. Whether you’re afraid of making a fool of yourself or concerned that your singing voice is not for public consumption, I hope these tips help you rock the mic at the next karaoke night.  And while some experience singing or performing in front of a crowd definitely helps, that shouldn’t keep you from enjoying one of the most laugh-inducing, dance-encouraging, camaraderie-reinforcing moments of your life!