Advice for performance anxiety

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by RandomHoodedStranger, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. So I've recently become an avid card collector, cardist, and sleight-of-hand practitioner. Whenever I am performing the latter (usually for friends, co-workers, bar patrons) I seem to become very anxious. My blood starts pumping fast, hands get clammy and start to shake, and my thoughts become tunneled ("Will they see this happening right in front of them? Will they see?")

    I can't seem to shake this surge of adrenaline that comes in. The side effects of it make it quite difficult to do my card passes x.x

    Any thoughts/suggestions?
  2. First off, juat nkte that you will become more and more confortable the more you actually perform for people. I suggest cecking this video out. It may help or may not. Everyone is different. But it works for me! :)

    RandomHoodedStranger and JoshL8 like this.
  3. Just keep the techniques simple. Im guessing you're trying to wow people with amazing sleight of hand. They don't care. They're not going to be amazed by how good your pass is. They're not magician's they're suckers.

    Instead of a pass just do an undercut, use simple moves, they don't know the difference. It will keep you more calm and you won't have butter fingers from focusing on your delicate quick movements.The effect in the end is all that matters and it's all they'll remember, if at all.

    Then when you get confident, take it to the next level and put those god like passes to use, you're just exposing the method being so nervous and messing up your moves
    Iqn, RandomHoodedStranger and JoshL8 like this.
  4. Hey!
    Almost everyone goes through a similar phase at one point or another. It's a natural human reaction specially since no one likes to fail and everyone likes to impress. So here are a few things I can think of that you might find helpful.
    First of all it's important to understand that you are going to make mistakes at some point eventually. Even the best performers sometimes mess up and that is no the end of the world. I once messed a trick up on stage and I just jokingly shook it off. It's not a good feeling, but it happens.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that the laypeople do not know anything about what you are about to do. They do not know what you know and don't even know those moves or sleights even exist. So psychologically, in order to recreate a sense of being control, they pay attention to what they know, which is directly controlled by what you pay attention to or appear to pay attention to. If you look in their eyes they look back into yours. If you nervously keep looking at your hands, they will look at your hands.
    When it comes to doing the pass or other similar control moves, those moves rely on misdirection and cover. A pass is not invisible despite the fact it's called that sometimes. It's up to you to make it appear as though it is invisible.
    And finally, the best way to overcome your fear is by performing for strangers. Go to a bar with your mates for a couple of pints and then approach people and offer to show them some tricks. With strangers you are immune from their judgment because even you fail, they do not know you and their judgment is not gonna affect you in anyway whatsoever. Whether they end up thinking you are the best magician or the worst, it does not matter either way. It's also a good way of practicing your presentation and stage presence.
    Anyways, keep up the good work mate and just magic away!
    RandomHoodedStranger likes this.
  5. The best thing to do in this situation is fail. I know it's super blunt, but it's what helped me lose my performance anxiety. Obviously, don't strive for it, but the more you mess up, the more you realize how little of a deal it is. You're trying to entertain the spectators and if you come off as such, messing up won't have any effect because we're all human. If they see, who cares?

    There are many, many ways to save magic tricks as well. If I accidentally located a wrong card in a trick or something, I'll ask them their card, cull the card to the top of the deck, show the spread to the spectators to say "Oh balls, your card is gone", then do a shake change with the incorrect card. Be creative!

    Other than that, don't confuse practice with presentation. How you present a trick will vary each time you perform it and there are always variables to consider. Don't practice a script you're going to follow, but use it as a guideline to provide a storyline. Every magician has a different mixture of improvisation and script and you just have to find yours.
    RandomHoodedStranger likes this.
  6. Oddly enough, that's precicesly how I've been practicing. I put together a small 4 "trick" (sleight) routine just for brightening peoples evening.

    Open with the ol' "pick a card"

    Take it back while making a big deal of not looking at it.

    Chosen card goes to middle deck
    Dps to bottom
    Slight shake of deck
    Reveal bottom
    Put card back in middle dps to top
    Turn deck
    Place card face up in deck, show spread as convincer no "funny business" is happening
    Hermit pass with upturned card appearing magically on top
    Turn whole deck over amd state that it even works backwards.
    Place card in middle, show spread and point out chosen card
    Turnover pass
    Holy shit there it is again.

    I had a blast at the local bar just doing this goofy routine :3 got some amazing reactions and really shook a couple of folks!
    Avendsin likes this.
  7. My apologies to the mods, I slipped a bit of swearing in that reply, and I can't figure out for the life of me how to edit the post x.x
  8. That's great! And that's a good routine. Then you're doing well. I reckon after a while as you perform in various settings you will bring to feel more and more comfortable performing. So just keep doing what you're doing and don't be afraid of making mistakes. Well done and keep up the good work
    RandomHoodedStranger likes this.
  9. Build confidence. Practice performing using a trick that is automatic or semi automatic. A trick that utilizes a key card would be a good place to start.

    After X amount of time (I believe 5 minutes) you can no longer edit a post.
  10. I get what you mean.

    Whenever I perform, when I even hold a card between my index and thumb to just show the audience, the card keeps quivering, because...well...My hand keeps shivering as well.

    Anyways, while it is not a ''thing'' I love a lot...It adds a certain sense of rawness to the performance...a certain something that breaks the wall between a ''performer'' and an ''audience" or "spectator".

    Although not always a brilliant thing...all I wanted to say is, don't beat yourself up about it.

    Anyways...if you are getting that problem, I think you can try practising a lot more than you are right now.

    But I guess it is not really a practice problem, but just a way your body reacts to high pressure situations...which is difficult to change.

    Whenever this happens to me, I tell myself immediately, "Relax mate, chill! It's just a trick you have done a MILLION TIMES! Cool down and show them this amazing stuff. That's's nothing more!"

    Now while the above may not sound really good, it does help to calm nerves if you are taking the performance too seriously.
    RandomHoodedStranger likes this.
  11. Best advise I can give is simply "Don't think."
    Train until movements are simply second nature then simply enjoy being around the people you're performing for, get to know them, have fun.
    When doing this, with magic movements being second nature, you'll perform as a byproduct of what the real goal is. . Connection with humanity.
    In the end performing magic is a beautiful thing, but only if their is a passion that goes deeper than the magic itself.

    Nobody ever died from performance anxiety, that I know of!
    So just enjoy yourself!
    Remember EVERYONE's about how you take the failure and turn it to success, even if that means making a joke about your own performance ability.
    In the end we are humans, exactly like the people we perform for and that's something that should NEVER be forgotten.

    Nerves are some of the best gifts we have, they keep us humble!

    Keep connecting!
  12. I just want to say thank you all for the wonderful advice :) I do still get that little surge of adrenaline when showing my stuff, but it's starting to become less nerve racking! I feel like I can finally begin to behave in a more natural manner (like filling the performance with idle chatter) without it coming off as weird lol. You all have been so helpful!
    Avendsin likes this.
  13. #13 Avendsin, Oct 12, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2018
    Hey, your post in this forum sort of inspired my latest video. So thought to give you a shout would be great if you checked it out as I am new to posting videos and all this youtube stuff, so could use your feedback and support!
    Sorry had to edit this cause I realized I forgot to give you link
    RandomHoodedStranger likes this.
  14. I'd love to! Send me a link :)
  15. If you have only been performing for a short period of time and are new to it don't fret! It is absolutely normal to experience a nervous reaction on your first few times, if I where told to juggle for the first time in front of people I would be nervous too :) Start off by performing for friends or family to see if your OK with that, if so then maybe show one new stranger that you meet, then 2, then 3, etc. It takes a lot of performing to become comfortable in ones skin, when I first started out I was petrified of the idea for performing for multiple people, let alone people in general. But after a few years I have been performing for crowds of people in school and out. It just takes repetition. All Sleight of hand is, is just repetition. You practice the sleights so they become muscle memory and the same thing for performing, after doing it for a good amount of time, that discomfort will turn into comfort, and then you wont have to worry or feel anxious. Hope that helps, just my personal experience.
  16. The key here is to focus on why you feeling anxiety.

    Performance anxiety is something that is hardwired into our psyches. It comes from the natural fight or flight reaction. Think about the cave man that meets another cave man... he isn't sure if the other cave man is going to like him or try to kill him. His body reacts to the situation by being ready to fight or run away. So the key here is you don't know if the person you are performing for is going like your magic or not like them (in essence "kill" your magic ego). The two things that reduce that reaction is to increase confidence and to initiate a positive feedback loop.

    Let's talk about increasing confidence. Many comments said to go out and perform more and some even suggested to fail. The more successful performances you have, the more confidence you have and the more you feel that people are going to react favorably to you magic. Thus, you've reduced the fear that they will kill you magic ego. If you fail and realize that your magic ego really isn't dead but "tis only a flesh wound" this reduces your fear of failure.

    However, you also can increase confidence and reduce fail of failure by practice and rehearsal. Practice is perfecting the mechanics of an effect. Rehearsal is performing the effect repeatedly under performance conditions. That means doing the effect while giving your presentation while pretending you are doing it for an actual audience. It also helps to perform for a captive audience like you girlfriend, magic buddy, wife, dog, etc.

    Scripting can also help. I know a lot of folks say to improvise, but then you end up just, as Eugene Burger said, narrating the adventures of the props. It becomes say-do-see patter where you say what are going to do, do it and then tell the audience to see the results. Start with strong magic and develop a strong presentation. A well scripted presentation comes across naturally. You don't have to think about what you are going to say. One lest thing to worry about. Also, having rehearsed the script with the effect provides a sense of security once you start.

    In preparing the script, structure it so that you get a verbal reaction from your spectators before you begin the effect. Close-up magic is a conversation. That verbal reaction starts a positive feedback loop. You say something, they react (maybe by answering a question) and you react to their reaction. This gives you the sense of "hey, they like me" or, more importantly, "hey, they aren't going to kill my magic ego." In my parlor performances, I structure the first couple of lines in my presentation to draw the audience in and to get them to react. The reaction sometimes is a smile, sometimes it is laughter, sometimes it is a look of attention showing interest in what will come next. That reaction and engagement provides me with a positive energy.

    One other way to get a positive feedback loop is to use something self-working for the first effect. That makes it easier on you and once you perform the first effect, you have built up a good enough rapport with the audience so that you can perform the second effect without fear of them killing your magic ego.
    JoshL8 likes this.

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