Engage the audience visually: Before you play a single note, introduce yourself to the audience, and SMILE. Establish eye contact with a few friendly faces in the crowd while smiling. If you speak, use a warm, relaxed tone. Taken together, this shows confidence, and a willingness to perform.
Start out strong: Like any good speaker knows, the first moments of a speech must provide a “hook”, some attraction point to draw in the audience. Likewise, a performance that lacks a hook quickly loses its audience. Does your piece open with a “hook”? The all-important opening must establish a certain mood and tone that listeners find compelling. Otherwise, you risk losing your audience as their attention wanders to other thoughts.
Are you “attracted” to your piece? An essential component of any effective performance, musical or otherwise, is passion. If you want to engage your audience, your piece must have a strong intrinsic meaning to you. Before your next performance, ask yourself: what does this piece mean to me? Always look to perform pieces that you truly enjoy, even love.