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Topic: My hands shake when I perform for strangers...
Message: Posted by: Ryan (Feb 14, 2003 10:19AM)
Any advice on this? My hands have always shaken a little, but I am fine when performing for friends. For strangers it becomes quite noticeable and I try to add a bit of humor to the situation with some kind of quick comment. I'd much prefer to not shake at all and was wondering if anyone has a good technique to get over this?
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Feb 14, 2003 11:45AM)
Everyone is your friend. There are just some you haven't met yet.

Relax. They don't how good or bad you really are. So just relax, be who you are, and know that no matter how you do; some people will be pleased, and some will not.

And the best part is that you will learn something more from failure than you would ever learn from success. So if it doesn't quite go as well as you hoped it would, think about why not, and make sure to address that next time around.

I have seen performers of all kinds, public speakers included, who spend so much time apologizing for things they think could have been better, that they detract from their delivery.

Also, don't start out saying, "I am new at this" or afterwards saying, "I usually do better."

I saw a guy do a nice presentation that had a couple of nearly imperceptible hinks in it. The audience never saw the hinks and was very appreciative of the performance. Right up until he started apologizing and telling them how he usually is sooooo much better.

So he robbed them of their joy in appreciating his performance. And as soon as he started finding fault with himself, so did the audience. Was he perfect? No. But as long as he knows it and improves it, that is all that is necessary.

BTW, if you really stink... you won't have to tell them. They will know! And probably will tell you. Apologizing first won't make it any better.

But back to the question: At that time, and in that place, take a deep breath, give everything you have, learn what you can, and entertain as you are able. And good or bad, you will have learned, and even if you mess up, it ususally isn't fatal.

A Brave man dies but once. A Coward dies a thousand deaths. (I Forget the source... not mine.. but the message is absolutely true.)

So be brave, and make it a point to start looking for strangers to perform for. The more you do it, the less it will be a concern.

Strangers are Sooo much more fun anyway. You will see!

Message: Posted by: Magique Hands (Feb 14, 2003 12:28PM)
The 'ol Shaking Hands Syndrome...

I'm sure you'll discover that this 'kink' in your nerves, will subside the more you perform. The more you perform, the more polished you will become... and ultimately, the higher level of confidence you will aquire. This is a performance law that will remain true. Your confidence will increase after each and every performance, and eventually will become a natural part of who you are, and of how 'smooth' your performances are.

So, relax and enjoy what you are showing your audiences... remember, it's suppose to be fun for you too.

- - Troy :bigdance:
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Feb 14, 2003 12:43PM)
Relaxing and confidence comes from experience. Experience comes from doing it a lot in front of people.

[b]Welcome to the club...[/b] Just about everyone in magic hands and body shake when they first started to perform.

Remember this, no one gets "F" on thier report card, no one has ever collected $200 for passing GO, and you will not be tarred, feathered, and driven out of town. If things go wrong, then Murphy's Law applies, learn from it and do it again. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the moment!
Message: Posted by: gandolf (Feb 14, 2003 12:53PM)
I experience "the shakes" too. I have found a good way to calm yourself down a variation of the take a deep breath idea. Rather than one deep breath (which can actually create more stress than relieve it), I inhale for the count of three, and exhale for a count of two a few times. This accomplishes two things, one, gets you to focus on the counting, rather than your nerves; and two, is less noticable to your audience than the big heaving breath most people take.
Another helpful idea is to focus mainly on one person who appears the least threatning to you. Don't forget about the rest of your audience, but if you can concentrate on someone who is more likely to appreciate and have fun with what you are doing, your stress level will go down.
Of course, as mentioned in the other post, practice! The more confident you are in your handling of the illusion, the better you will feel about performing it, and the less stress you will experience. Good luck!!!
Message: Posted by: EddyRay (Feb 14, 2003 07:48PM)
Experience and practice are the key. Make sure to keep breathing when your performing the routine. This sounds funny but it is very true. When i first started out I would get nervous, talk fast, and jitter a bit. I learned to take a few deep breaths before I would go up to a stranger and perform. IT really and truly helps. :bear:
Message: Posted by: Darren Roberts (Feb 14, 2003 08:25PM)
Thanks for this thread. I have a lot of performance experience in music, but as soon as I start performing with a deck of cards, coins, sponge balls, etc. my hands start visibly shaking. I'm impressed that Ryan had the "nerve" to post this and I thank everyone for their advice. Ryan, you're not alone :)
Message: Posted by: dillib (Feb 15, 2003 09:51AM)
Well, just don't do so sleight-intensive close-up magic. Let some self-working miracles do their job first, and once you have confidence in your patter, that's one less thing to worry about. Work hard, and the only way is through lots of performance time.
Message: Posted by: cmwalden (Feb 15, 2003 10:23AM)
I feel very comfortable with performing for strangers, yet every once in a while I find this happening to me. I can't explain why. When it happens it's as though I'm a third party watching myself perform, saying "I wonder what his problem is."

However, if I stick to script and just keep going, no-one ever says anything and it always turns out OK. Your audience doesn't see things the same way you do. KEEP GOING!
Message: Posted by: Rajat Mittal (Feb 15, 2003 11:28AM)
I've found that for me, a lot of the "shaking hands syndrome" is rooted in a) a fear of failure, and b) concern about how i am being perceived (I want to let them know I'm good... which means I should do REALLY good stuff... which creates more nervousness).
I've found a lot of this can be eliminated by good routining. I start of with a few sure fire effects, the so called "self-working" variety, but the sleight of hand stuff i've been doing for 10 years serves the same purpose. Make sure the effect is good though. What this does is:

1)Establishes your credibility with the audience, they now believe you're good, and you don't need to worry about how you are being perceived.

2)It gives you more confidence and allows you to be comfortable in the setting in which you're performing.

3)Gives you the permission to make a few mistakes. If you mess up your first trick, that's pretty much the end of the show, but if they like your first couple of tricks, and then you make one mistake, its ok - they'll let it pass. This vastly reduces the pressure on you, which in turn ensures that you make fewer mistakes.

I've found this almost eliminates the hand shaking for me. That said, none of this works if i haven't practiced the trick enough beforehand. If i haven't reached the level where i could do a routine in my sleep... then my hands will shake - no matter what i do about it...
Message: Posted by: sak07 (Feb 15, 2003 12:15PM)
I used to have the same problem, and to be honest the only cure is to perform, perform and perform some more to anybody and everybody. The shakes come from a build up of adrenalin in your blood stream which generates huge amounts of energy and your body turns this energy into the shaking that you expereince. With time it will become easier. I still shake when performing for a beautiful women or if I know I am going to be performing later, ie before a gig. When asked in the pub to perform that moment, im fine because my body doesn't have time to generate to much adrenalin, its only when I have time to worry and dwell on what might go wrong that I shake. There isn't a magic formula other than time and experience. Just keep throwing yourself in at the'deep end'. There is an author called Geoff Thompson who has written a few superb books about his fear of violent confrontation and how he overcame them by becoming a night club bouncer in one of the roughest cities in the UK, 'Watch my Back' and 'Fear', READ THEM.
Message: Posted by: John Clarkson (Feb 15, 2003 12:21PM)
On 2003-02-14 11:19, Ryan wrote:
Any advice on this? My hands have always shaken a little, but I am fine when performing for friends. For strangers it becomes quite noticeable and I try to add a bit of humor to the situation with some kind of quick comment. I'd much prefer to not shake at all and was wondering if anyone has a good technique to get over this?

A well-known magician from whom I have taken lessons on card handling once commented that, when he first met me, he thought I had palsy! Yep, many of us understand your plight!

I have found four things very helpful:

(1) I make sure I am not hungry. This might sound silly, but my blood glucose levels affect my shakiness greatly (and may affect yours). I always have some protein about forty minutes before my performance: peanuts, tuna salad, etc., and I avoid sugary stuff like juices too close to a performance.

(2) I know my effects cold. I can do them in my sleep. They are automatic. They are also [b]easier[/b] than the ones I practice at home. I never do an effect that I still think is "hard."

(3) I always have a back-up effect. That way, if I blow one, I can complete the other so I finish with a success, not a failure.

(4) I have developed a style of presentation that is conversational and helps soothe performance anxiety (and the attendant shakes) by focusing on the magic, not on my [i]performance[/i] of the magic. It's as though I am just another spectator, but just the one who happens to be handling the props when the magic happens. Sometimes, the spectators don't even know I'm about to do a magic trick until I am already set up and the effect is half-finished! For instance, I might introduce "Card Warp" by saying, "I saw the weirdest thing the other day, and I [i]still[/i] can't figure out why it happens! In fact, I'm not even sure it works all the time. Here, will you help me? Please fold this card...." Throughout, I ask, isn't this odd? Has this ever happened to you?" Or, "Don't you just hate it when your cards turn inside out?"

You can modify this approach to almost any effect. The result is that you create an atmosphere in which you and your audience are on the same team, sharing the same enthusiasm and thrill for the mystery that happens as the [i]group[/i] makes the magic happen.

Good luck. From one palsy victim to another: it does get better!
Message: Posted by: Jonatan B (Feb 15, 2003 02:13PM)
I think that if you have a good routine on a trick, you can improvise a bit depending on the situation and the person you perform for. This calms me down when I do not feel such bound to the routine I do.
Message: Posted by: the_hidey (Feb 15, 2003 04:36PM)
I too used to have the "shaky hands syndrome".
I over came this by simply thinking to myself two things.
1) Whats the worst that can happen - Your not going to get hurt or lose any members in the family just because you forgot the "pinky break" etc.
2) Could my audience do it better? The chances (if performing to strangers) that your going to choose an expert magician as your audience is unlikely, and if you did, if he/she had any decency they would value your performance and give encouragement rather than criticism.
Think about it, hope it helps
Message: Posted by: aznviet6uy (Feb 15, 2003 11:42PM)

I also have faced this problem when I was young, i discovered the more you perform, the less you hand will shake because u get used to it, so just keep up the good work, and perform!!!

Message: Posted by: amazingboz (Feb 16, 2003 05:22AM)
All the above suggestions are good and valid/.Let me share a technique I use with people ( no charge to you :) ).
Sit down and relax.
Close you eyes and take a few deep breathes
( in thru nose,hold 4 seconds, out thru mouth).
In your mind's eye see yourself on a stage as would be a real setting for you.
See youself doing the effects/tricks you usually do. Replay this secne at least 5 times over and get the full sense of witnessing yourself succeeding and feeeling the effect go over just fine.Breathe naturally and without outside interruptions.
Once again,after the vizualisation, take deep breaths in thru nose count to 4 and out by mouth,deeply. At that point you will feel refreshed and confident.
Incidentally, practice this technique with any stressful situation and for at least 7 days. It is called object desensitzation.
Let me know how it helps.

We have all been there.

Message: Posted by: Kathryn Novak (Feb 16, 2003 08:01AM)
Here's a neat little thing most people don't know about.
The human nervous system can't tell the difference between a vividly imagined daydream and reality.
In the morning or before you go to sleep at night, lie down and relax your entire body. Let all the tension go out of your muscles. Then picture, in your mind, your performance goes perfectly and you are applauded at the end of a flawless presentation. Do this four or five times. After a while, all those *performances* will help build your confidence to a point where you don't shake anymore.
Message: Posted by: Dr. TORA (Feb 16, 2003 03:47PM)
Just RELAX... Nobody knows what you are about to do. And you have the total control of the event. You are boss...please do keep this in mind. Never do any trick which you can not do even if you are so sleepy or falling drunk. And most important of all Do trust your own skills. I repeat again, YOU ARE THE BOSS...
Message: Posted by: elushinz (Feb 16, 2003 06:52PM)
I mistakingly thought right before a gig I was going on that a shot of vodka would calm the nerves. I calmed my nerves and the fact that I hadn't eaten in some time didn't help. The Shakes are something that I have come to realize, as most mentioned, subside with confidence. I rarely have the problem any longer, shakes that is, jk.

Message: Posted by: debaser (Feb 18, 2003 07:22PM)
Just be nervous - roll with it - embrace it, its trying to get the nervousness to stop that really messes you up.

Make it flow with your character (david williamson/Penn) You cannot make yourself less nervous so don't try.

After time the nervousness will probably go away/ but maybe not, I know of atleast a handful of famous magicians (good ones) who have horrible stage fright and are quite nervous atleast before the performance.

The point is its ok, don't deny it or try to make it go away. Experience it to its fullest and that will put your audience at ease because they wont worry that your uncomfortable or scared.

Message: Posted by: Bill Hallahan (Feb 18, 2003 08:29PM)
I also have had my hands shake when performing, and I only perform for family and friends!

All the advice above is good, but I thought jdclarkson had some good practical tips. No matter how relaxed and comfortable you are mentally, your physical state can also affect your nervous system.

One more thing I would add to his list is to consider avoiding coffee before a performance. Coffee affects different people different ways. For me, it definitely causes noticeable nervous tremors in my hands.
Message: Posted by: Turk (Feb 18, 2003 11:03PM)

I loved your post February 14, 2003 12:45 p.m. to Ryan . Very well thought out.

As to your question as to who originated the qoute:

"A Brave man dies but once. A Coward dies a thousand deaths.", that would be Saddam Hussein (grin).

Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Feb 18, 2003 11:36PM)
Hi Ryan,

I gotta agree with our hostess Kathryn. I can write from EXTREME EXPERIENCE here. My hands can get so wet that David Roth once suggested doing a ten minute act with live goldfish.

The things that help me are

1) as she described, focussing on the outcomes and not on my hands

2) taking an extra phase to my practice work that includes much imaginary audience interaction. this helps refine my comfort and speed up the usual process of checking where people's eyes are looking and noting where a routine can be interrupted.

3) getting my attention in performance out into the audience so I can be more comfortable. I really did try the rote route and found being 'animatronic' uncomfortable.

Best wishes and be comfortable!

Message: Posted by: Donnay (Feb 19, 2003 06:01AM)
It's all very easy for us to tell you to relax and pretend everybody is your friend. but when it comes to the crunch that may not help but you will notice the more you do it to people you don't know the easier it will get. try doing it with a mixed crowd some friends some strangers. until it's all strangers.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Feb 19, 2003 07:33AM)
A good nights sleep helps too.
Message: Posted by: Jonatan B (Feb 20, 2003 09:56AM)
I would say: If someone is asking you to perform then do it directly, in that case you don't have "time" to get nervous.

Try to translate the nervous feeling into excitement and happiness. Also enjoy your spectators and they will enjoy you.

Message: Posted by: filmyak (Feb 23, 2003 02:39PM)
I noticed several people who recommended taking a deep breath.
Let me just add some clarification to that which many people do not know about.

When people take a deep breath, they usually expand their chest cavity (try it now on yourself and see what I mean). This does the OPPOSITE of relaxing you, it will actually energize your body!

If you have a chance to watch someone while they sleep (please, no peeping toms here), you'll notice that the human body, in a relaxed state, will take breaths that go deeper down into the person's belly.

Now while you're awake, try doing both. Take a deep breath in your chest, then let it out. Now try again, drawing the breath all the way down to your stomach, filling your lungs from the bottom up instead of from the top down.

THAT is the kind of breath that will really help relax your body, as it already associates that type of breathing with a relaxed state.

Anyone who does yoga will be well aware of this technique. Works wonders!
Message: Posted by: rrubin98 (Feb 23, 2003 07:34PM)

Some professional speakers use this technique: they imagine the audience naked. This method is actually Ericksonian hypnosis in action, for you are visually "hallucinating" an audience wearing no clothes.

An NLP approach is to anchor a relaxed state and then fire off the anchor just before you perform. That's my preferred method. You can learn more about creating anchors (and learn other NLP principles as well) in Frogs Into Princes by Richard Bandler and John Grinder.

- Richard
NLP Master Practitioner
Message: Posted by: frank (Feb 28, 2003 02:56PM)

Same thing used to happen to me. I decided that the best thing for me to do was to take the focus off my hands. :light:

I put together a couple quick tricks that didn't involve spectators staring at my hands. Maybe you know a few mentalism effects that you could do when performing for strangers?

That helped me build the confidence to perform other types of magic for strangers, and the shaky hands calmed down quite a bit. :smoke:

Message: Posted by: Stanyon (Feb 28, 2003 05:31PM)
On 2003-02-23 15:39, filmyak wrote:

Take a deep breath in your chest, then let it out. Now try again, drawing the breath all the way down to your stomach, filling your lungs from the bottom up instead of from the top down.

THAT is the kind of breath that will really help relax your body, as it already associates that type of breathing with a relaxed state.



I tried that and my pants fell down! :rotf:


Just the reverse of what a lot of the gang have been saying; I try to imagine the funniest thing that I can, right before performing. Works for me!

Message: Posted by: RandyStewart (Mar 1, 2003 01:35AM)
Johnny Carson admitted to sweaty palms well into his last few years on television - that's 30 years!
He said his responsibility to his audience always overwhelmed him. During those moments, he was calmed by the realization that there was nothing else he'd rather do despite his nerves.
Just a healthy dose of anticipation and respect for the complexity of his work and his audience. If you think back on his shows, didn't he look extremely comfortable with his work? I always found him right at home during the monologue and chat with guests.
Stop shaking and waddle in the memories of your past performances which brought wonder to your spectators. You are in charge.
Message: Posted by: Mago Mai (Apr 16, 2003 01:46PM)
I think there is nothing wrong with feeling nervous. What is bad, is to be afraid to perform magic.

Sometimes, I might feel nervous some days before I even have my gig.....

...When I have to perform in front of a camera and I know that it is going to be watched by tons of people.

or When I perform for other magicians.

Some other times, I encounter the same situations (new gig, T.V.contest) and I feel great.

I didn't understand why this could happen to me. Why sometimes I felt fine or just a little nervous and some other times I felt really bad.

Now, When I come to a situation that I start feeling nervous before a show, I know it is because I'm afraid of failure. Most of the times it is when I add to the routine an effect I just thought about it or that I haven't practiced enough.

I bet, we all know an effect we can perform
under any conditions, even with one hand in our back. that is the one we should start our magic show, routine, act or when asked for just a trick.

If I am asked to performed a trick, I start always with the one I fee the best. This will probably lead to applauses at the end of it. This will make me feel even better and there is nothing to worry about now.

Mago Mai