If you want to do really really well in auditions, you need to shift your focus away from the end result of getting the part/doing well and onto the process that gets you there.
We only perform at our best, when our mind is free of interference from our unconscious. Mental tension and distraction just multiplies the physical manifestations of tension.
Focusing on the result tends to cause us to be distracted by thoughts of ‘what if’. Those what-ifs can be positive, but more often than not, they’re just going to be negative.
The next time you are preparing for an audition, try this approach, which is an excerpt from my new book The Fearless Audition, which I’m currently writing.
First, break down the audition into the individual components. Something like this:
Travel to the Audition
Meet and Greet
Take Your Marks
Break down each part of the audition into smaller parts, including the cues that you want to be focused upon. Rather than thinking of an audition as showing up to act. Instead, it’s a series of tasks that you want to influence positively.
Think of it as a mental checklist that will help you stay focused:
TRAVEL TO THE AUDITION
This time is usually rushed. Plan the route in advance. Be early. Not too early - this will just add to your nerves because you will feel like you have nothing to put your mind on.
Warm up doesn’t just mean your vocal skills. But you should do a brief voice and speech warm up at home. The work you put in at home will still be in effect a few hours later, so prepare a short voice and speech warm up for yourself. This will also keep your mind off the bullshit it thinks up to scare you off the audition.
The second part of the audition is what to do when you arrive. I suggest that you put on your headphones and find some music that really gets you into the zone you need to be in to do your best.
Now if you’re the kind of person that loves to be pumped up for auditions, then you need that type of music. If you’re the kind of person that likes to be calm, then listen to that kind of music.
For high activation pumped up people - try this or this.
For lower activation people who want to be calm and relaxed - You can try this or really calm like this.
MEET AND GREET
Okay, it’s time to get in the room. Getting this right is SUPER important. They’re going to learn so much about you in the next 7 seconds. And they’re going to make a lot of unconscious decisions about you.
These are your cues for the Meet and Greet. Rehearse them in your head so you know where to place your focus on.
Meet and Greet Cues
Warm Friendly Entrance
Cheerful Personal Greeting
Be Ready and Willing
TAKE YOUR MARKS
This is a moment to become poised and ready. This is walking over to wherever you’re going to do the piece and getting into the zone.
I would strongly advice this is the time to start what sports and performance psychologists call the centring breath. Your breath controls a lot about how you feel, and how you feel controls your breathing. Nervous people experience shallow breathing.
Control your breathing and control yourself with this breathing exercise.
Breathe in for the count of 6. Hold your breath for 2 seconds and then breathe out for 7 seconds. That’s not difficult. It takes only 15 seconds. If you can do it three times even better. It will take the edge off any nerves and focus your mind.
But what should you focus your mind upon? You should break your audition performance down into sections. Then give each section a name related to what you plan to do with it.
Let’s imagine you’re doing a short one page side.
You’ve decided to come in really hot at the beginning of the scene. So your first cue is called BLAZING HOT.
Then you drop the energy, get really sad and quiet. You call your second cue COLD SHOWER.
Then start attacking the other character for their lack of backbone. Your third cue is called ATTACK WITHOUT BACK.
Finally, you end with a gentle reminder. You call your fourth cue, SOFT and SLOW.
Holding the end to leave the panel time to catch up with you becomes SLOW ONE THOUSANDS. Where you count to 3 with ONE ONE THOUSAND. TWO ONE THOUSAND. THREE ONE THOUSAND. This avoids ripping the panel out of their enjoyment of the final part of the scene just because you know you’ve finished.
Your cues for this audition are:
ATTACK THE BACK
SOFT AND SLOW
SLOW ONE THOUSANDS
When preparing for the audition performance, this is what you will think through. Not whether it will go well or not, but the cues that bring you to the best performance you can give.
Smile when you finish. Return to the warm and friendly person. Make eye contact. Thank them and be ready to slow but confidently leave when they are ready for it. Leave with your head held high.
Now you have a plan for how to prepare for your audition. Use it wisely. The power of focus that it will bring you will allow you to be a lot less distracted by the mental chatter of your mind.
If you want to reflect on your audition. Rather than being like 99% of actors clinging on to any hopeful thing the panel said, you’re going to mentally review your plan and where you could improve in the next audition. Plan outline stays the same, content changes from audition to audition.
To You, The Best
Mark Westbrook is an Audition Success Coach based in Glasgow Scotland. His eBook The 12 Obstacles explores the 12 major mental obstacles which stop you from having the success you want in your acting career. It’s completely free to download here.