Own The Room: 6 Steps To A More Confident, More Controlled, Audition

I have a confession to make. I love AUDITIONING.

I love preparing for them, I love being in the room, I love performing there, and I love walking back out again and moving on to the next thing.

Controversial right?

Because for most people, AUDITIONS are the “Big Bad” – the step to get through, the hurdle to overcome before you get to the actual prize of trudging through the rehearsals and FINALLY hitting the stage!
Right? Except .. what if they weren’t?

Arguably we audition for more roles than we get. We’ve all certainly prepared for roles, dreamed of them and lusted after them then had our hopes dashed when the inevitable “thank you for attending the audition but ….” email/phone call comes. We’ve ALL been there.

In spite of that – or maybe because of that – I love them.

It’s a given truth that a huge percentage of the audition is totally out of your control, you could be too tall, too blonde, too worldly, or too loud for the role. YOU CAN’T CONTROL ANY OF THAT.

In MY case (I imagine) it is often that I am not especially … tall.

I blame my legs for the betrayal. My torso continued to grow, but my legs refused to follow, leaving me looking remarkably toddler-like in my proportions.

But knowing that you have no control over it – this gives you a FREEDOM.

Having also spent my share of time on the OTHER side of the audition panel. I have a total appreciation for the fact you perhaps didn’t progress to Call Backs because … just maybe … you were the 11th audition in a row I had just sat through and-holy-wow-please-stop-singing-because-I-need-to-pee.

It is worth remembering that panelists are human too. They WANT you to succeed. They wouldn’t have you there if they didn’t hope you could contribute a Tony worthy performance in their show. But sometimes they have distractions, and sometimes they make mistakes. These things happen. I mean … I don’t make mistakes … but I’ve heard it happens sometimes… *wink*

This is not a totally comprehensive list – and there are some generalisations here – but these are 6 steps I use to be more relaxed and in control in an AUDITION room;

1. BE PREPARED With Your Material. 

This may be the simplest of all of the pieces of advice but it is surprising how often people turn up not knowing their material. I’m not just talking about any songs YOU’VE CHOSEN YOURSELF to sing for your audition – it’s a given that you should know it. Backwards.

If you want to impress (and that’s what you’re there for) – you should ALSO know, and be confident with, any material YOU’VE BEEN ASKED to prepare.

I’ve gone into audition rooms not wholly comfortable with my material – needless to say those are the ones that became horrible out-of-body experiences.

2. Take a BREATH. 

Breathing is life. Breathing is all. I have a strong belief that breathing is the key to all things, including and especially acting and singing. So just take a good, slow, deep breath.

It will help you slow down, it will help you not seize up, and it will make sure that you have a much better chance of nailing that high note, or keeping a solid speaking voice. Promise.

Keep breathing. It is key.

3. REDEFINE What You’re There For. 

I used to be all about getting the part. That’s the goal – that’s the aim. YEAH!!

The PART is what it is all about. And look – it is. Otherwise why turn up?

I listen to an amazing podcast called “Inside Acting”, and they advocate changing the game in your favour by calling auditions “meetings”. It creates a shift in why you’re there, in the pressure of it, and that can give you a serious advantage.

I try to keep focused on it as a performance in its own right. Just a performance for an audience of 3, or 5 (or however many people are sitting behind the table). I want to focus on my chance to practise “cold reading” in front of people, or my chance to showcase some bold choices I’ve made in the performance of this song. Divorcing myself from the need to “get the role” makes things much simpler. I can walk out of the room, and while I hope I get called back, I put on a good performance – and that is enough for me.

4. It’s Your Time – OWN IT.

Similar to the point above, this is about redefining your purpose in the space. This is your 15 minutes with the panel. Own it. Use it to promote your agenda. It is YOUR space, the panel are just there to watch YOU. Ask the questions YOU want to ask. Keep the focus on you.

Shine bright like a … you know how the quote goes.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Say STOP.
This top tip is designed to be used with caution, and I know A LOT of people who have sat on panels will dislike it being included..

But look – it’s YOUR time, and Broadway stars (who are paid a lot more than you or I) have been known to stop sold-out Broadway shows dead, mid-performance, in front of 2,000 people – just to start again.

So I think it’s safe to say – if you stop one time, in one audition, ONCE, no one is really going to mind. Sense the theme here – you get ONE use of this, one – that’s it. Use it again and you’ll seem flaky and unprepared.

I have a great example of this – a friend of mine had an audition recently, they played the backing track and as soon as they started to sing they realised that they could not hear it. At all. Instead of confidently maintaining control and stopping, boosting the sound, checking it all worked, and proceeding with their audition they just kept going. Slowly getting further and further out of time. Which look – isn’t going to be a problem in and of itself. The panelists will understand and will overlook it or help you out. Personally I would stop you and fix the problem myself. BUT – that’s not going to help you feel like you’re in control of the situation and as soon as your focus is off on “oh god I can’t hear that, can I hear it, where am I, oh god oh god oh god” your chances of making a mistake will escalate.
As I said though – this should be used .. cautiously and as infrequently as possibly.

6. In 5 Years – It Really WON’T MATTER EITHER WAY.

The good news – if you don’t get the part – it’s not going to matter. Probably in 5 weeks, let alone 5 years.

I know the argument there are people who will say “but Shane – what if this was the show that catapults me to fame and fortune?”. The answer to that is pretty simple – if you’re that good, you will have your opportunity. Your time will come. Promise.

REGARDLESS of any tips I can give you, we have to walk in to each audition knowing that there are such a wide variety of factors that are entirely OUT OF OUR CONTROL. Understanding the elements that you CAN control, and finding WHAT WORKS FOR YOU – can be a game changer. These tips all hang largely around keeping you feeling confident, prepared, and lower the stakes, all of which will let you feel much more in control. After all, that’s what this audition game is all about really – feeling good so you can put on the best showing possible.

These are the steps that I use. I’m not always successful at using them, but I know that the auditions I haven’t performed my best at, (and the ones that have taken the biggest toll on me afterwards), are the ones that I have been furtherest away from my ideal audition set up. I didn’t feel in control.

AUDITIONING isn’t a science – but it doesn’t have to be the terrifying experience a lot of us find it to be.

Happy Creating!



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