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The Essentials

Top tips to help deal with nerves ahead of auditions, performances or rehearsals

Nerves can get the better of all of us. Even established actors get nervous before auditions, performances and in rehearsals as Imelda Staunton, Josette Simon, Alex Jenning and other actors have shared with us. The trick is knowing how to deal with them when they arrive.

Ahead of their stage performance at the 2022 Spotlight Prize, we asked the performers what they do to control their nerves feeling. Here are their best tips:

Tips for Dealing with Performance Nerves

  1. Think of positive affirmations you’ve received from people who have shared with you how much they love your work. Those positive nuggets are so important – especially when you can feel yourself starting to spiral.
  2. Breathe. Breath practice is really important. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four, and breathe out for four. Keep doing this until you feel yourself physically relax.
  3. Listen to music you love that gets you moving. It can help you forget about everything else that’s happening.
  4. Ground yourself. Try not to get in your head. Bring your awareness to the present and notice your surroundings.
  5. Take in your environment. Know that it’s all your perception and create a sense of ownership within the space.
  6. Find gratitude in the people you’re working with. Think of what you’ll get out of the experience that’s making you nervous.
  7. Try to replace the thoughts that are causing your nerves with happier ones. Yes, sometimes it’s easier said than done but it’s definitely worth a shot.
  8. Accept that however you feel when you’re on stage is just how you feel. Invest in that feeling and accept that’s the energy that’s going to be in what you’re going to do and say in your performance.
  9. Do the work, do the preparation and trust yourself. Know your worth and that you got here for a reason. Whatever will be will be.
  10. Your mentality is a big thing. If you trust yourself and have done the work so whenever intrusive thoughts come into your head, simply acknowledge them and then let them go.
  11.  Fake it ‘til you make it. Tell yourself the opposite of the things that your anxious thoughts are saying.
  12. Simplify things. When you’re about to step on stage, take a breath, feel your feet on the floor and go for it. You got this!

We hope these tips helped you discover new and creative ways to calm your nerves before a performance. If you’d like to read more, please take a look at 6 ways to combat audition nerveshow yoga can help calm your nerves and a guided meditation aimed at calming nerves for young performers

Photo credit: Joanna Nicole Photography