How To Handle Audition & Performance Nerves

March 2023

When you go to auditions or perform in front of audiences, there’s always some fear involved, and it’s normal. What we shouldn’t do is shy away from the thing that makes us afraid, and if you are a parent or teacher of a student who would rather stay behind the curtain than face their performance anxieties, it’s time for a little encouragement to help them reach their full potential.

Our top tips for handling nerves are a great place to start 👇 And if you would like to put these into practice then be sure to check out our new audition workshops and other In2Drama Academy courses.


Whether you’re stepping out in front of an audience of hundreds, or you’re about to audition in front of a panel of three, nerves are likely going to kick in - you're only human! Luckily, there are lots of ways to make the process easier. Here are a few of our recommendations for reducing audition and performance nerves:

✍️ Be as prepared as possible

Being under-rehearsed will result in more nerves as you won’t be able to control the outcome of the performance. By knowing your lines/words like the back of your hand, you’ll give yourself a much better chance of things going exactly as planned, which means less nerves. Don’t leave anything to chance!

👀 Visualise your performance beforehand

As above, knowing the material really well means you can visualise what the experience will be like. Close your eyes and walk through various scenarios of what might happen. Visualise a perfect outcome, and also a scenario where you forget the words, or sing a wrong note - then visualise how you will handle these things if they do happen. You can always recover from a mistake.

🕑 Get there early

There’s nothing worse than turning up flustered because you're late. If you have performance nerves, don’t add to them by also worrying about lateness. Add as much extra time as you can to allow for all possibilities. Turn up early and use the time to relax and work on calming your nerves with some of these tips.

💪 Make a 'win list'

Did you get a part in your school play last year? Or did you do really well in a previous audition? Remind yourself these things happened because you are talented! Make a list of your ‘wins’ and go over it before any performance to increase your confidence and calm nerves.

🙌 Remember, everyone WANTS you to succeed

The audience or examiners all expect that what they’re about to see is well-rehearsed and professional. In other words, their default setting is that they expect you to be great. An audience is never looking for mistakes, they will only notice them if you react to them. Auditioners have more of a keen eye for faults, but they always want you to do well. They are looking for talent and get excited when they find it, so show them you’re exactly what they’re looking for.

🎼 Use relaxing music

Music is powerful. Many studies have shown the benefits of music-assisted relaxation techniques on everything from sleep to pre-operative anxiety, and it’s a tool that’s beneficial for performers too. Calming music can help lower anxiety levels, so no matter whether you are waiting to go onstage or to an audition, find a quiet space and pop in your headphones to listen to something relaxing.

😮💨 Breathe

Whether it's Wim Hof breathwork techniques or just a few long, deep breaths, this can help slow your heart-rate and encourage a calm energy before walking to the audition room or stage. There are many ways to use breathwork, so head to Google to find some and try a few options to see what works for you.

💬 Chat to others (if they want to)

If you find that chatting to others before a performance helps take your mind off what you’re about to do, do it. Keep in mind that some people may not want to chat and may be getting ‘in the zone’ before their own performance, so only approach people if they seem open to a conversation.

😬 Tell people you're nervous

When performing, your castmates become your support system. If it feels appropriate and you feel comfortable doing so, voice any nerves you have about particular moments in the performance so your cast can assist. They may be able to improvise if anything goes wrong, and can offer encouraging words to help you feel like they have your back no matter what happens.

🙆 Use body language 

The journey to the stage can be daunting. One trick which has a lot of scientific research to back it up is to walk and stand confidently. Keep your head high, shoulders back, and walk with purpose to your mark. Acting confident has a way of diminishing nerves in a fake-it-’til-you-make-it sort of way!

🥶 Forget about the dreaded 'freeze'

Many people mention that they worry about freezing on stage. Remember, this almost never happens! It’s very rare to completely freeze onstage, because you will have so many cues to help you get started again. Once you’ve said the first few lines it will become like muscle memory and start to flow. Knowing your lines well is the best way to avoid freezing.

✌️ In auditions, take "begin when you're ready" literally

Don’t launch into your piece straight away! You may feel pressure not to keep the panel waiting, but remember you are allowed to take a few moments to collect your thoughts and take deep breaths before you begin. This can help with nerves, and the auditioner will see you are taking your time with them seriously, so don't be afraid to start slow.

🎭 Practice performing

Practicing is without a doubt the best way to get over performance nerves, so it’s a great idea to find a group you can practice with in a low-pressure environment. Our In2Drama Academy courses are designed for this, and despite working with other talented young performers and industry-expert tutors, we make it clear that when you work with us it’s totally OK to make mistakes! We’ll even help you learn how to recover from them in the best way.

As part of our expanding team, we're delighted to have Jack Howells-Davies join us as Assistant Coach. Having just undergone 2 years of auditions himself, Jack has vast and current experience in audition technique so be sure to pick his brains for advice (including what to wear, how to present sheet music, how to conduct yourself in the room, repertoire suggestions and more).

👏 We're delighted to announce our NEW Audition Workshops!

Our audition workshops are a highlight of the Academy, tailored to student needs and teaching key skills in preparing for auditions. Whether for drama schools or industry casting calls, our expert tutors can set you up for casting success. Who better than to perfect your audition pieces with than the incredible Kath Harman and Edward Bennett!

Plus, while taking part at In2Drama, you will have the chance to purchase optional headshots and a showreel to showcase your talents. Our team will help you capture the very best bits of your performances and a brilliant headshot that you can use to apply for future castings and opportunities.

So there you have it, we hope that these top tips will help you in taking to the stage... we know you can do it!

If you would like to take the opportunity to practice and refine your skills with industry pros and meet other like minded-students, then please explore the IN2DRAMA ACADEMY. We're excited to meet you.



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