Seconds Before The Runway: How to Get Calm and Confident
Runway modeling can be as nerve-breaking as it is rewarding. Nervousness, anxiety, and adrenaline rush through your veins right before hitting the stage. As a runway model who walked at over 50 shows including New York Fashion Week and Los Angeles Fashion Week, I will tell you how I calm myself down and get confident right before seeing the spotlights.
Most of the modeling classes don’t cover the emotional journey of a model right before a fashion show. It’s important to prepare yourself mentally for an impressive walk on the runway.
It’s all about the first three seconds
No matter how nervous you are before going on the stage, keep in mind that you will feel a lot calmer after the first few steps in front of the audience.
When you get your cue to start your walk (somebody taps your shoulder or waves a hand to go), you step forward and turn the corner. As soon as you face the audience, spotlights dazzle you for a second but your eyes get adjusted quickly.
After a few steps, you are getting closer to the posing area. By this time, you finished the hardest part of the walk. You will enjoy your time on the runway a lot more after the first three seconds.
Pick a point to gaze at
When you leave the backstage and start walking on the runway, pick a point in the far distance right ahead of you and around your eye level. This will ensure you walk in a straight line, your head is not leaning down, and you don’t get distracted by everything happening around you.
At every fashion show, there are photographers at the end of the runway. Flashes will shine from their cameras as you continue walking. I like to find a photographer who is positioned right in the center of the photographer pit. I do my entire walk looking at him or his camera. As a runway model, your eyes shouldn’t wander around. Focusing your attention on the same spot helps you keep your gaze straight.
Sometimes, spotlights are too bright that you don’t even see anything in the distance. Even in that case, you would probably see a red blinking light of a camera recording live video. If you don’t see anything at all, staring at a spotlight that is at your eye level while walking.
You are one of the many models
At most runway shows, there are hundreds of models walking. You are one of them. Even though you are at the center of attention during your walk, the audience sees hundreds of other models in a few hours. If you are not confident on stage, remember that they see all kinds of walks.
More importantly, the audience is forgiving and empathetic. Nobody in the audience wants a model to face any struggles. If your high heels giving you a hard time or spotlights are blinding you, they will make empathy and they will wish the best for you.
There will be fashion industry professionals as well as the families and friends of the models in the audience. No matter how intimidating the venue and stage may look, it is still a friendly and positive environment.
Pull your shoulders back
One important adjustment that helps me with my walk and confidence is to pull my shoulders back right before going on stage. Once your shoulders are pulled back, your posture will be straightened up and you will feel more confident. Your walk will also instantly look better.
With all the adrenaline rush, it’s easy to forget to have a good posture on the runway. I like to think that the cue the backstage manager gives to start my walk is actually the cue to pull my shoulders back. If you tie them together, you won’t forget to fix your posture before the walk.
More than one model on the runway
Frequently, there is more than one model on the stage at the same time. One model walks to the posing area while another one is coming back. This is very common because it shortens the total time of the show to prevent the audience from getting bored.
It’s easier to relax when there is a fellow model on the stage with you. There are two reasons for that: The audience’s attention is not fully on you so you feel less nervous. And you know that you are not the only model doing this, even on the stage right at that time.
If you walk with a model right next to you (couple’s walk or paired walk), it’s even better. You will stress less and enjoy the walk more with a stage partner.
Practice, a lot
I saved the most important (and obvious) suggestion to the end because if you forget everything, this should be the one that stays in your mind. Practice your runway walk consistently until the show. The more practice you do, the more calm and confident you will feel regardless of the venue, show, and the size of the audience.
It’s likely that you won’t be able to practice in advance with the clothes and shoes you will wear at the show. So as soon as they dress you up on the show day, find a less crowded space backstage and do your walk as many times as you can. Ask other models to give you feedback. Even better, they can record a video of your practice and you can see it yourself.
If you are feeling nervous about your walk on the runway, remember:
- After the first three seconds, you will feel a lot more confident and calm on the runway
- Choose a spot ahead of you to gaze at while walking. It should be a point at your eye level
- The audience is forgiving and empathetic. They support you and they wish you the best
- Pull your shoulders back right before hitting the runway
- Practice as many much as possible before the show, preferably in the same clothes and shoes you will walk wearing at the show
For modeling training that covers all aspects of runway modeling including show day preparation and practice, check out Modeling Master Course.
This post is written by Gabriella M.