Audition Nerves

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    I get really, really nervous about audtions, so much so I get a stress rash! This obviously means I am not performing to my full potential and losing out on some of my parts, has anyone got any tips for how to overcome the fear?

    • 11th Sep 2009
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  • Mensah Bediako



    1. Know your lines/ song etc inside out.

    2. Realise that an audience, any audience, whether it’s a casting director or someone forking out £20 to see you on stage wants to be entertained. They want you to do well. They want to cast their part / enjoy their evening. No-one, except perhaps a psychopath or a terminally vindictive person wants to see someone corpse/mess up during a performance. Believing they’re on your side goes a long way to boosting your confidence before you’ve even done your bit.

    3. You’ve trained to be where you are and they must believe you are at the very least competent because they’ve asked to see you. Believe in your training if in nothing else.

    4. No audition is wasted. Even if you don't get the part you're after you've been seen by someone who may want to see you for something else down the line. Also, even if you think it's a disaster (and you could be completely wrong 'cause the casting director may well see potential in you that you don't) it's a learning experience.

    Hope this helps. Good luck with everything.

    • 30th Nov 2006
    • 1
  • User Deleted

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    Hi. There are two bits of advice that I can offer. One based on the practical aspects and the other on the psychological aspect.

    Practical: prepare yourself and practice your audition material in an environment that is similar to that of an audition - in other words, practice in front of strangers, or try to recreate whatever is causing you stress. If you get stressed out at singing auditions then pop along to Pineapple Studios on Wednesday evenings (check the dates) where you can sing your audition songs in front of others under audition conditions. I find this helps me. I can sing perfectly well in front of my voice coach but when I used to stand in front of an audition panel I sounded awful and my legs would shake. Now before I consider a song audition-ready I have to know the words, notes, interpretation and have sung it in front of several strangers.

    Psychological: there is a large psychological literature on nerves and stage fright (I lecture on this at Universities - I am a Psychologist during daylight hours). Glenn Wilson has a good chapter on Stage Fright and optimal performance in his book Psychology for Performing Artists. There's also lots on the web about the psychology of stage fright/anxiety as well. Have a look at this:

    I can post up summaries of some academic work on dealing with and overcoming stage fright/anxiety if people want.

    In my experience stage fright never goes away, you just have to learn to deal with it so that you can still give your best performance.


    • 30th Nov 2006
    • 2
  • Alice Brockway


    All the suggestions above are great. It can also be useful to talk to other people who are auditioning (without disturbing their preparation of course). I know when I've been nervous I've felt cut off from other people. I've sat in my own world where I'm used to getting nervous and feeling anxious. By chatting to other people it gets me out of that and reminds me that this is just a normal part of the job that everyone has to go through. It can actually make auditioning quite good fun. It's a useful way of networking too!

    I've also been using some NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques. It's the stuff that Paul McKenna is using in his books and it's really great (incidentally, his Instant Confidence book has a chapter on public speaking that can be applied to auditions and performance). There is absolutely loads written on the subject (not just by Paul McKenna ;-) ) and there are lots of quick and easy exercises you can do on your own to help. The books are usually in the business section of book shops cause NLP's biggest fan is the corporate world, and they range in price and complexity from little quick and easy guides to more detailed works for people who really want to understand or train in it as (opposed to those who just want the benefits!) Also there are lots of practitioners out there who can help on a one to one basis if you want (though these, of course, should be checked out for quality before you go to them). Sessions should be quick and easy and in my experience very effective and you often get a free consultation to see if you like the practitioner beforehand. They can be pricey (big shock) but with a good practitioner you should only have to go once, maybe twice, for something like this (even for really deep seated things the best will only take one or two sessions).

    As you might have guessed, I'm a bit of a fan.

    Hope there's something in this lot that's useful to you.

    Best wishes,



    Peter, it would be great if you could post some academic work for us to have a look at. I'd really love to see what's been written on the subject.

    • 30th Nov 2006
    • 3
  • Sally Beaumont


    I second the stuff on Paul McKenna- I'm a big exponant of Neuro Linguistic Programming.

    Two things that really help me:

    (I also get hives when nervous)

    1. They are looking for you to be great. The temptation is to think that they're looking for you to make a mistake. But actually, they want the perfect person to walk in- and if you are that person you're a godsend to them.

    2. Don't call it fear/nerves/terror. Call it excitement. When you say "I'm excited about this audition" it changes your outlook. It's a question of framing your feelings- some people rely on this excitement to perform well, and it may be your secret weapon. (That's a direct tip from Paul McKenna)

    Good luck!

    • 30th Nov 2006
    • 4
  • Pamela Flanagan



    As well as everything mentioned above there is this herbal remedy. For the life of me I can't remember the name of it. You can get it in boots/holland and barret etc. God it's really annoying me that I can't remember the name, but it's in a little yellow bottle and you just put a couple of drops on your tongue. Maybe it's a psychological thing but it really helps me when I'm nervous!

    It's just come to me 'Rescue Remedy'.Great stuff, also my mum (of all people) told me to imagine the auditioners naked cos then at least you'll have a smile on your face!!

    Hope you learn to mask the nerves, you don't want to get rid of them completely as they help give an edge to your performance I think anyway.

    Pamela x

    • 30th Nov 2006
    • 5
  • User Deleted

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    Nerves are something that we all have. Otherwise we wouldn't be alive! They are in every part of our body after all. Our friend and our enemy! Sally Claire - I totally agree with changing the way you think about nerves. I always try to say to myself that it's excitement and not nerves/fear. Why should it be? It's a truth, that we are all in control of our thoughts and therefore our feelings (getting a bit heavy!!), therefore theoretically, we can change our thinking or stop certain thoughts creeping in. The challenge is doing so! Of course, it's not always a 100% hit rate :0)

    After all an audition or performance is something that we all want because we enjoy what we do and the opportunity to do it is grabbed with both hands.

    If it's any help, I've been to auditions where I've thought I've rushed, mucked it up, made a right "hum dinger" and got the part, so you never know. Again, try not to second guess what they are looking for.

    I'd be interested in the info that you suggested Peter. Thank you.

    Take care all!

    Shannon (Bored from London Bridge!)xx

    • 30th Nov 2006
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  • Kenny Richards-Preston


    An actor friend of mine, (who'll remain nameless) whom I met when first starting out laughed at me jsut before the curtain went up on my first pro performance. It's funny, but through college and stuff you stil got nerves, but as soon as you're getting paid for it the nerves seem 4 times worse? Anyway, I'd asked him if he ever got nerves, he laughed and held up a sweaty shaking hand, "all the time!" was his reply.

    Nerves are good, it's adreniline you feel coursing through your body, whether its a show or an audition, allow them to feed your performance and use them to your advantage. Casting directors know how nerve wracking it is to audition, and won't mark you down, as it were, for your butterflies.

    It's like they said, just know your lines and audition piece (whatever format it is). In fairness, no amount of rehearsing can truly prepare you for the audition itself. When you stop getting nerves would be the time I'd consider changing my career. Nerves are your friend, make peace with them and do what you do well.

    Hope this helps

    Kenny x

    • 30th Nov 2006
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  • Blake J Askew


    Its also fair to say thatmany times, because we are the ones feeling the nerves, we assume everyone else can see them.

    Earlier this year I was in a production and when the press were at that event etc, my anxiety was palatable to me..I was onstage busy performing and World War 6 was going on inside.

    Yet no one even noticed the nerves. I think you need to just know that even if you FEEL afraid, it does not mean you cant do it. Just because you body has the fight or flight syndrome does not mean you are not competent etc..and I think what we tell ourselves etc is the real problem..

    "I will look a fool"

    "I wont get it"

    "What if I dont gte it???"

    My agent in SA used to say "You dont have the job when you walk in, and you dont have the job when you walk out either. so relax"

    Its true...its rare they decide on the spot.

    • 30th Nov 2006
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  • Nicholas Obileye


    Everyone has made good points, especially with the NLP stuff. I find it's largely a matter of putting yourself in the right frame of mind.

    Rather than calling it nerves, I call it nervous energy, and use it to power the's kinda like the buzz you get before a first date, and while it could potentially sink you, if used in the right way, it helps launch you in the right direction.

    I don't think you can every truly lose audition nerves, and to be honest I don't think I'd ever want to...might mean I don't care as much.

    Well, that's my two cents worth. Good luck with the audition, and I hope you find your own thing out of all these suggestions. All the best, Nick.

    • 1st Dec 2006
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  • User Deleted

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    Thank you so much for your help everyone! My brother is hugely into NLP so I am definatly going to look into that some more.

    You have been a tremendous help and your suggesstions are fantastic, I will be buying that herbal remedy too!!

    Thanks a bunch, hopefully I won't get as nervous now!

    Stacie x

    • 2nd Dec 2006
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  • User Deleted

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    Thank you all, your comments have cheered me up.

    I went for an audition yesterday that I REALLY wanted, ive never suffered with really bad nerves before, just the usual adrenalin rush, I arrived at the audition 40 min early to prepair,(Tick box 1) i had also prepaired a monologue as I was told that they could not disclose ANY information to me other than who the charictor is simmiler to. (tick box 2) on arrival was pushed into a room, shoved a script into my hand and asked to read, they didnt even ask my name, singed a form on the way out "sorry very busy so many to see" This was supposed to be for an international TV series. I was so dissappointed as I had done all the right things in preparation. Yet because of they way I was treated I felt anxious tripped over the lines twice. hmmm I know it was friday and they had seen a lot of people and probably wanted to go to the pub, but sometimes casting agents forget the amount of time and work actors put into these auditions. Has anyone else had this experiance? Dose it just go with the job?

    Thanks for the tips they have helped.

    Alison xx

    • 19th May 2007
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  • Claire Dodin


    I've got few trick too

    -It's ok to be nervous, everybody is. You get an adrenaline rush and don't fight against it, embrace it. The adrenaline rush is the reason why we are doing this job. Enjoy it!

    - find the reason why your character is nervous, the stories we tell are always about heightened emotions whether it's because you're about to tell someone that you love him, or that you're about to tell the person you're with some horrible news etc...

    -when you walk into the audition room, picture the space your character is in, if it's a restaurant see the tables, the people sitting next to you etc...

    -acknowledge the person you are speaking to as your character, if it's the casting director reading with you, look at him and see your boyfriend, your mum, your friend etc...

    - when you are nervous as your character, in the space, with the person you are talking to, you won't be nervous as an actor anymore

    -if the casting director is difficult then use it in your acting, it means that the person you are talking to is difficult, it gives you even more a reason to connect to him and go after your scene objective.

    -and most of all, enjoy these minutes when you get to be someone else, to tell this great story you've got to tell

    Auditioning can be a great fun moment of life

    Make it about the fun of being someone else, not about the result of the audition. If you get the job, it's a bonus but not the aim.

    • 19th May 2007
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  • Zack Polanski



    Just saw this thread in a search and wanted to add my thoughts.

    I went to see an NLP Practitioner years ago because of my nerves at auditions. Not only did he work with them so effectively, I got so interested in the whole process that i'm now a practitioner myself!

    It's a process i'd definitely reccomend and i'd be more then happy to chat to anyone about it and how it can help them with their nerves pre, post or during auditions. I've also been working recently with a few actors in the West End on nerves in performance too - so the word is getting out there!

    Zack Polanski.

    • 7th Sep 2009
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  • User Deleted

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    With you on that Soggy Mog .... they wired me up prior to my first cue ..... my normal heartbeat 62 ... the average bloke around 72 ... afterwards, in the BBC bar, they told me I peaked around 130 ... no wonder I was always knackered after the wrap !!!!.

    • 7th Sep 2009
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  • Zack Polanski


    ...and how appropriate your analogy to a lion is.

    Esentially, what is happening is fight or flight response. To explain this briefly in evolutionary pyschology terms..

    The problem with the primary emotions is that evolutionary responses are basic (nominal.) If we feel anger or fear (which are obviously stresses) our body responds with the sympathetic system pumping adrenaline and allied hormones around our bodies. At a low level of arousal we become aware of 'butterflies' in the stomach; that is blood leaving the area and moving into our arms and legs to prepare us to fight or run.

    This system has been fantastic for 99% of our evolution. When we were living in the stone age and we saw a sabre tooth tiger, our bodies pumped this adrenaline and we don't need to think at that moment- the blood rushes away from our brain and into our bodies so we can make an instinuctual reaction. Thinking would have just inhibited us.

    When you go to an audition or perform, our brains haven't quite evolved as fast as society has- and so the sympathetic system identifies a danger and sends us into this same response.

    Through Cognitive Hypnotherapy, we can train your brain conciously and unconciously to still have the same reactions when neccessary (as the adrenaline is often what seperates a good performance from a great one) but enable the limbic system to still function that we make rational decisions and get the job we want or the performance we were seeking.

    I don't want to blind the board with science, but if you have any more questions or want to book an appointment in the future- I'd be more then happy to work with you. (

    • 7th Sep 2009
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  • Graham Joy


    Wow some fantastic posts from everyone what a intelligent bunch you are.

    Zack some good words of NLP and hypno advice.

    But it is much more simple. Nerves are a feeling and like all feelings you can choose to have them or to not. As a personal and business performance coach i could write a lot about this.

    But its late and my keyboard skills are at about 20 words a minute.

    Nerves are part of the fear group of feelings, your afraid to get it wrong or to put it simple you have what everyone has a feel of failure causing anxiety and nerves.

    Just ask your self next time you start to feel a little nervous this WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I WAS NOT AFRAID? example- if i was not afraid i could go to the casting knowing that i had prepared that i was open to a change to the format of the casting, i would let my calm confidence shine, i would do my best knowing that whatever happens following the casting i had done my best and there was no monsters or demons in the room the sun was still shining and when i got outside the coffee from Costa tasted the same as the one i bought on my way to the casting ... IN FACT ALL THATS CHANGED IS THE TIME AND THE FACT YOU HAVE GOT A NEW ROLE OR YOU HAVE LEARNT SOMETHING NEW FROM THIS CASTING............

    You can only do your best and even then you will only get the work that the other person wants to give to you, YOU CAN NOT CONTROL THERE CHOICES YOU CAN ONLY GIVE THEM A CHOICE.......So enjoy controlling what you are in control off and that is YOU.

    I could give you many ideas to deal with fear but here is just one..When you start to feel nerves look around you go inside and ask I'm alright is there anything to harm me is there anything to fear and the answer is always I'm alright now then check back again until the feeling goes away Oh the little voice in your head that trys to tell you its not ok is just that a little voice, thank your inner voice for its comments but remind it that right now there are no tigers or bears around so the need to be nervous is not needed.

    And one last thing to wash away tension etc...My favourite breathing technique take as you breath in say the word one as you breath out say the word one then breath in say two and out say two in say three out say three repeat and try to get to ten around about 6 or 7 you will be centred and relaxed and wont make ten as you will feel calm and in control.

    Enjoy the opportunities life gives you and remember you can only control what is yours to control you can not control others.

    I am not the best writer in the world i hope it makes sense I'm a talk about it type. If you don't understand anything just post back and i will try to explain.

    Follow the advice of Sir Laurence Oliver who responded to Albert Finneys question of how to deal with nerves by saying..

    "Do what i do, dear boy-amaze yourself with your own daring"!

    • 7th Sep 2009
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  • User Deleted

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    Good stuff there Graham, some of those words are very relevant to a situation I was in recently and you've really helped me bury it because it was eating me up.


    • 8th Sep 2009
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  • Christine Hounslow


    I am a great believer in breathing exercises - the counting in and out on the breath up to ten is great - try extending your arms sideways on the in breath and closing them to the front on the out - like a pair of bellows - this fully expands the lungs and gets more air (and oxygen) in, and fully pushes out all the stale air. Best wishes Christine

    • 8th Sep 2009
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  • Zack Polanski


    Graham, Indeed some fantastic, classic ideas there.

    You have fallen into a trap though, which is that you've imposed your way of dealing with nerves as *the* way.

    You even state 'I could give you many ideas to deal with fear but here is just one..When you start to feel nerves look around you go inside and ask I'm alright is there anything to harm me is there anything to fear and the answer is always I'm alright now then check back again until the feeling goes away Oh the little voice in your head that trys to tell you its not ok is just that a little voice, thank your inner voice for its comments but remind it that right now there are no tigers or bears around so the need to be nervous is not needed.'

    It's what I call Blue Tree Syndrome. Don't think of a blue tree? You're not thinking of one right? Right? Right?

    And although you describe your method as simple- simpler then what? Because actually by 'going inside and looking for the fear' - you're going to find it. Your unconcious brain is going to interpret any feeling you have as fear/adrenaline- which is why there is only so much you can do in a cognitive concious sense.

    Great ideas- but I just don't want anyone to feel disheartened if it doesn't work for them straight away- because often the reality of change is more complicated.


    • 8th Sep 2009
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