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Profile of mrsmiles
On Nov 22, 2019, mrsmiles wrote:
Hello Chris,
I used to get terribly nervous so I empathise very much & would like to help with with some words of advice as well as trick suggestions. I've noted that you need suggestions for tricks to do during walk-around that require no table which I will do after some other initial words of advice.

My first point is to also recommend doing tricks that are easy to perform (I list some below) so that you don't add to your nerves by being afraid that the trick could go wrong. A trick going well breeds confidence and an emerging confidence breeds more confidence. So once you get a trick going right, you get more confident and less nervous. This is not to dismiss Danny Doyle's comments incidentally; I think his points are acutely relevant. I think it is a good idea to combine both the awareness of what 'nerves' are - because it does help in conquering them - whilst at the same time adopting the practical strategy of seeking out and performing easy trick to perform that have a good reputation amongst magicians. So, on this practical note, I have some suggestions too of tricks that you might consider doing! Here goes:

1. Firstly your suggestion of Dr Daly is excellent... it is often my opener when I'm doing walk-around

2. Seeings you ok with doing DL's why not do a card transposition in the spectator's hands where they think they are holding the wrong card/an indifferent card ... but it turns out to be their card when they turn it over! You can devise a very quick, short and snappy version of this and it makes a perfect opener and I often do it slightly more often than Dr Daly.

3. When talking about transpo's how are you with thinking about 2 card monte? Admittedly, you need a top change as well with this. For that reason I only tend to do this 3/4 of the way through a gig when I'm flying high with confidence and adrenaline. Although I'm confident these days that move still makes me slightly nervous... so I only do it when I'm really in the swing of things and 'cooking on gas' as they say.

4. In terms of packet tricks how about NFW, colour monte, and my current 2 favourites: Eye Exam, and the trick where the all the colours of the backs change constantly (might be called card chameleon - I do it at every gig yet I forget the name!)

5. Another easy sure-fire hit that's easy and perfect for walk-around is 'Holy Moly' (Jay Sankey). Once you've bought it you could always switch it for using coins that you've drilled holes in if you prefer (I do), but the ethical thing to do first is to buy the original product. A similar trick is 'key master' by Craig Petty)

6. Another super trick that is very easy and not requiring a table is 'Killer Key', again by Jay Sankey

7. Have you thought about paddle tricks? Turbo Stick is all the rage and has a high reputation. I do it myself. I also like the look of, but not got it yet, of 'The Amazing Jumping Arrow'. I tend to reserve Turbo Stick for when children are at a gig such as a wedding, but the tricks is perfectly fine for adults (& I personally tend to do it at tables rather than walk-around even though a table surface plays no part in the trick).

FINAL POINTS: A word about strolling and not having a table: Here is a ridiculously simple point and no doubt you've thought about it, so please forgive me for making it: If you need a surface (a table) how about just getting the spectator(s) to just put their hand out flat (or where necessary both hands) and use THAT as your surface? This opens a world of possibilities - you might want a surface for colour monte but there's now a hell of a lot more open to you... sponges and a hell of a lot more that opens up to you.

Good luck. The thing is in your position go into a gig EXPECTING to be nervous... it takes time for nerves to diminish. Even if you read a lot now and practice a lot now - even though the tricks are easy - just expect to be hit by nerves. If you do they won't intimidate you so much when they kick in (& bear Danny's excellent points in mind too). So, whilst the nerves are in play, make sure you do a trick you know inside out like all the above tricks suggested that you know pretty much CAN'T go wrong. You'll start to get confident fairly soon. Can't promise it at your very next performance but even at that one the nerves should go down a little bit after performing for few different people around the room. Small steps and then one day... you'll be running, and then... flying. I've been where you are... so I hope to see you in this other place where I am fortunate enough to be now where confidence replaces nerves and where adrenaline is an asset, not a hindrance.

Good luck, I wish you all the best.
Eddie Torres
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I think you should just do the stuff you do best while acknowledging your nerves. The last few years I’ve made a habit of pointing out stuff I think people are going to be aware of. I think just the simple act of telling someone your nervous, maybe making a joke of it and even pointing out those shakey hands when they shake will ease the tension on both ends tremendously. It makes you relatable and kind of gives you permission to be nervous while performing. I’ve found honesty and sincerity to be the best way to make a quick connection with your audiences. No ones going to look down on you for feeling an emotion that we’ve all felt. On the contrary, it just might get them on your side quicker.
Eddie Ivan Torres
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Eddie has a great point. Acknowledge the nerves. If you have any in-their-hands material, you can say “in fact, I’m so nervous, I think you’d better do this first trick and I’ll take over after that.” There are quite a few such items if you look for them.

In order to deal with the nerves, you may be well advised to look for a nearby Toastmasters group. Also, if you have a local magic club, the value of such is in the chance to perform for a supportive group that will try to help.

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Profile of Alyx
Here's another tip on getting over nerves -- though it may not have been the intended purpose. Jamie Grant wrote about "Magic Fridays" in his book, The Approach (awesome book). The idea is that you inform your coworkers that every Friday you're going to show them one trick. Ideally you don't show everyone at once, but you get them one on one, so that you can perform that same trick several times. If you can do your trick 5 times in a given Friday, you'll rack up 20 performances by the end of the month, and you'll be well on your way to ditching the nerves.

Food for thought.
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Profile of Chamberlain
I still get nervous for the first group, sometimes I'll look down at my hands and think 'Oh god I'm shaking' but by the 3rd group I'm fine. I've just came to accept that my first group that I approach I'll probably not be on top form. That's why I always try to perform for an older group first, and keep the group of teens/all male group for later in the evening.

The less you have time to think about it the better, I perform much better when I show up at a gig and just start. Rather than showing up early, sitting there for 30mins then performing.
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Profile of chosen1
I've come across two concepts that have, personally, helped me get over the initial nerves of performing. First is a mindset and the second is a way of framing the material I'm presenting. These may not be applicable to every style but have helped me perform with much more confidence.

First I try to think about my magic as a gift to whoever I'm performing for. Since magic is, for the most part, a hobby for me this is even easier than for professionals. I don't have to perform if I don't want to; so any time I take is because I want to spread a little joy to those around me. Because it's a gift, who cares if my hands shake a little bit? Who cares if I even get caught? It's something I'm doing for them and I'm not asking for anything in return.

You can even use this thinking for paid shows. Think about all the hours you've spent practicing and scripting and shopping and researching. If you were to truly add up all the work you've put in to getting to this point the compensation you are receiving seems more than fair. You're still giving more than you are getting.

Second I don't shy away from the idea that what I'm doing is sleight of hand. Especially in my opener. My usual opener is a ring routine and I tell the audience that I'm going to warm up with some intricate sleight of hand. So any little flashes or jerky movements are able to explained away. I'm not trying to fool them I've given them the answer so they not only don't look as hard, they are also more forgiving if/when they do see something. You can use this idea of framing in other ways too. Maybe you can say let me see if my memory is up to performing and do a memory styled trick. The idea is to give them some kind of a hook to hang their hat on so they aren't really looking for any explanation because you've given it to them. Since you know they won't be looking as closely you can perform with more confidence.

Another gambit I've used along the same lines is. "Do you want to see the hardest thing I know how to do?" Then your nerves are explained in a theatrical way. Of course you're a bit nervous, this isn't easy. It can help your audience feel like they are seeing something you don't show just anyone and helps make your nerves seem like part of the act. What you're doing doesn't have to be particularly difficult anything can be presented as being harder than it is.

This has the bonus effect that when I do start to do things where I don't touch objects much or they what's happening simply can't be explained by sleight of hand the audience has a moment of feeling like the rug been's pulled out from them, but since I'm already in the middle of performing I've noticed that they just turn off that side off their brain for good.

Hope this idea of reframing is useful to you and anyone else.

Best of luck in sharing your magic with others.

We should all be in a constant state of wonder
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Profile of vincentmusician
Being nervous happens to a lot of people. Once in a while, even I get nervous. The more you perform, the less it will happen. I recommend starting out with routines and Magic that you know inside out without having to think too much about. It does not have to be easy or hard but just easy for you. Also, try to have fun. If the audience sees you having a good time, so will they. If they see you looking nervous or afraid, then they will feel uncomfortable. Just relax and enjoy what you do. This works for me. Cheers!
Chuck Finley
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I put this under another post but this will make it so much easier:

Though I have not done this personally I do think it is a great opener for restaurant. Steve Spill made a fake plate of spaghetti with three hollow opening that he could put sponge balls in. He would walk up to a table and say "who ordered the spaghetti?" he then sat it on the table and went into his sponge ball routine. Simple and effective and the psychology behind it is brilliant; first you are breaking into the guest space with a question which is relevant holding a plate, then you create a moment of confusion that forces them to interact with you for the moment breaking the ice and dropping their guard totally, then there is a humorous outcome as you set the plate down.

I can see that moment where they will chuckle and realize that you are there to create mass havoc and pandemonium for their entertainment. I would not be surprised at all if every guest talked about this long after they totally forgot the 45 phase ambitious card routine we are all so proud of

The reason this will help is simple when someone sees a person carrying a plate to a table everyone at the table stops talking because its now time to figure out who gets what. In this split second you say "who has the spaghetti" they will say "no one or not me" then when you lower it and they see its fake this will elicit a choice to chuckle and that is enough time to fit in and say "with how this looks its a good thing you didn't" or something like that. now you have their attention and its in a fun way this should make the nerves almost fade away into nothing or at least enough to stop your hands from shaking.
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