3 Steps to Overcoming Audition Anxiety

Updated: Nov 5



1) UNDERSTAND WHERE THE FEAR COMES FROM:

All acting is a form of communication and communicating publicly can be scary. If you have ever thought that you would rather die than have to speak in public, you may not be alone. According to a survey on common phobias, a fear of public speaking, known as Glossophbia, was found to be a more pressing concern than even death. Experts believe that as many as 75% of people suffer from Glossophobia. Acting, specifically auditioning, is similar to public speaking in this aspect.


But, understand this: The human brain is hard-wired to do two things very effectively. Do you know what those two things are? Much of what you do as an actor is rooted in these two instincts. The answer? Your brain is hardwired to SURVIVE and EVOLVE.


Have you ever done any of the following?

  • Started to sweet

  • Blinked too much

  • Rushed through the words

  • Developed a dry mouth

  • Your hands began to shake

  • Blotching on the face or chest

  • Nausea and vomiting (Yes! I have had someone vomit at an audition)

  • Lightheadedness or fainting

If so, you are not alone, 98% of actors surveyed reported having felt one or more of these nervous reactions at some point in their career, and 67% said they experience these reactions on a regular basis. These are just a few of the ways your brain will react to your fear in an audition. Your brain is hardwired to make sure that you survive.


2) KNOW HOW FEAR MANIFESTS IN YOUR AUDITION:

How does your brain go about the arduous task of protecting you from this new adventure you have decided to undertake? Simple. Your brain will plumet into its best primal defenses of FREEZE, FLIGHT, and FIGHT.


What does SURVIVAL look like in an audition enviornment?


THE FREEZE INSTINCT

Have you ever frozen in an audition or forgotten your lines? I have seen particularly nervous actors forget even the most basic information about themselves. Like their name! I kid you not. "audition amnesia," we like to call it, is a natural reaction to the anxiety that is caused in the audition environment. You can have a script completely memorized, only to step in front of the camera and draw a blank. This can be frustrating and embarrassing. Sadly, forgetting your lines, or having to start over, can cost you the role.


THE FLIGHT INSTINCT

If freezing isn’t enough to avoid a danger, the brain will kick in the next level of defense -- FLIGHT! The flight instict is the brains desire to run away from the danger. It isn’t common for an actor to physically flee from an audition, although I have over the years, had a few “runners!” Most often, the flight mode will manifest a little more subtly in an actor. Perhaps you start rushing your lines in a subconscious effort to be done quicker and leave sooner or before you know it, you have locked into actor overdrive where you deliver a verbal hairball at record speed. Sadly, a rushed audition can keep you safe, but it isn’t likely to lead to you getting the role. For all the work that actors do to get an audition, it is amazing how fast they will try to get out of the audition.


Another common way that an actor will “flee” from an audition is through excessive blinking. Sometimes, you will find yourself blinking too much in situations that you would really like to get away from. When you blink, it is your brain’s way of pulling down the blinds to help you to hide away inside your own mind. Have you ever had a cat that thought it was hiding from you by putting his whole body under the couch while his tail stuck out? He thought he was hiding, just because he couldn’t see you. Blinking doesn’t make the things that makes you nervous in an audition go away, but an actor who blinks too much will definitely appear nervous and that can cost you the role.


THE FIGHT INSTINCT

When all else fails, the brain will take a more aggressive approach to protect you. It will shift you into the fight state of mind. While most actors are not looking for a physical fight when auditioning, they may inadvertently turn that “fight” instinct inward. This inward destruction mode can manifest in some pretty harsh physiological reactions. Your hands might begin to shake, you might begin to feel nauseous, or lightheaded. It isn’t even unusual for an actor to pass out at an audition due to nerves. Although these are the extremes, it is essential to understand the natural chemistry that creates this internal war with yourself. It is also important for you not to blame yourself or let it discourage you. Instead, you need to work to overcome it.


So what can you do to move past this?


3) TRICK THE BRAIN

Now that you understand why you are nervous, let me help you understand how acting science can give you back your power. Most articles on the subject will give you all kinds of advice on how to relax. I have seen everything from Yoga, to Meditation, to crystals to hypnosis all aimed at helping the actor to relax. However, what I am going to say next will shock you! I don’t want you to relax. In fact I want you to harness that natural adrenaline that comes with auditioning and do this instead.


I WANT YOU TO FOCUS!


Yes, that is right! If you focus on a specific task, your brain will be distracted with that task and have no time to be nervous. The problem with some acting techniques is that they require complex backstories and deep analysis but for the brain, that the approach is too broad because there is essentially no detail for it to focus on. The brain likes “tasks” that can be checked off as it operates. There is consistency and certainty in that. It is the reason that many of us make “to do” lists or set goals for ourselves. Broad Sweeping concepts create a sense of additional anxiety for the brain, whereas step by step tasks make the process more manageable. If you think about it, it is how you learned to drive a car. “First put your foot on the brake, then turn the key, and then put the car in drive and release the brake slowly before accelerating.” Your driving teacher didn’t put you behind the wheel, tell you were "good enough" and to "be in the moment" and then throw you into drive and tell you to break a leg. Nor did you have to learn every detail about what was under the hood of the car before learning how to drive it.


The Communication Method for Actors “acting science” approach to acting allows you to use scientific principles to craft step by step action plans in an audition that help you to stay focused. That focus will naturally shift your brain from survival to evolution. The more you do it, the more it will become muscle memory for your brain, and the better you will become at it! All of which will quickly put you and your acting career, on track for success!


Empower your acting career now with "Acing Science" from the Communication Method for Actors! Schedule online today!


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