How to Nail Cold Readings

Want to nail cold readings at acting auditions or for your next commercial audition? Read below for cold reading techniques and other audition tips on how to cold read.

A cold read is when you don't receive the audition scenes ahead of time. You will be handed the script when you sign in at your acting audition and typically have around 10-15 minutes to prepare, sometimes less. This is very common for commercial auditions, when the audition script is very short, but you also may have to read an audition scene cold when auditioning for TV or if you get an on-the-spot callback audition for a theater play.

Here are a few audition tips to make the most of cold reads:

  • Practice, practice, practice...

    A good cold reading class is one of the best investments you can make for your acting career. If you've worked hard on your acting training, don't skip this important step. Cold reading is a skill that can be learned from a good acting teacher and plenty of repetition. Once you got it, it'll be like riding a bicycle. Take 30 minutes out of each day to do a cold read and before you know it, you'll be able to commit an entire audition scene to memory in 5 minutes (that really impresses auditioners) and break it down into acting beats in another 5 minutes.

  • Keep your finger on the pulse.

    Here's a quick audition tip - keep your thumb going down the audition script as you perform your audition scene. This way, you won't have to pause to find your place on the page if you don't know what your next line is.

  • Do detective work.

    Unless you're auditioning for a very small part, casting directors usually pick audition scenes for a specific reason. When you're preparing outside the audition room, read the scene a few times and look for clues. Ask yourself why the casting director picked this scene of all the scenes in the script. This can give you a clue to what they expect from you and also help you find the conflict in the scene. Also ask yourself what your character wants or needs. Once you know your objective, break down the scene into a few clear acting beats.

Cold reads get easier the more you do it, so cold read every day. Not only will it improve your cold reading techniques, but it will also make you a better actor in general as you get to act a different part every day. Have fun, choose commercial audition material one day, a regular scene for acting auditions the next, and a book narration another day. Challenge yourself to find the objective of the cold reading scene in 20 minutes, then 10 minutes, then five... and check out these audition tips on how to nail acting auditions in general.

Good luck with your next cold reading!

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