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Profile of Ryan
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?
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America’s North Coast, Ohio
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Profile of BroDavid
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!

If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Magique Hands
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Lincoln, NE.
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Profile of Magique Hands
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 Smile
"If you go around sprinkling Woofle Dust on everything... people will think 'My... What an odd character." www.magicmafia.com
Dennis Michael
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Southern, NJ
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Profile of Dennis Michael
Relaxing and confidence comes from experience. Experience comes from doing it a lot in front of people.

Welcome to the club... 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!
Dennis Michael
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Profile of gandolf
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!!!
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Profile of EddyRay
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. Smile
Darren Roberts
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Profile of Darren Roberts
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 Smile
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Profile of dillib
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.
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Cedar Park, TX
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Profile of cmwalden
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!
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

- William Shakespeare
Rajat Mittal
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Profile of Rajat Mittal
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...
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Profile of sak07
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.
John Clarkson
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Santa Barbara, CA
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Profile of John Clarkson
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 easier 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 performance 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 still 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 group makes the magic happen.

Good luck. From one palsy victim to another: it does get better!
John D. Clarkson, S.O.B. (Sacred Omphaloskeptic Brotherhood)

"There is nothing more important to a magician than keeping secrets. Probably because so many of them are Gay."
—Peggy, from King of the Hill (Sleight of Hank)
Jonatan B
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Gothenburg, Sweden
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Profile of Jonatan B
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.
Jonatan Bank
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Profile of the_hidey
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
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Santa Rosa, CA
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Profile of aznviet6uy

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!!!

shhh..... I see Magicians.....
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Profile of amazingboz
All the above suggestions are good and valid/.Let me share a technique I use with people ( no charge to you Smile ).
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.

Kathryn Novak
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Profile of Kathryn Novak
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.
If anyone sees my sanity, please return it to

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Inner circle
1448 Posts

Profile of Dr. TORA
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...
Magically Yours,


Have you visited my new Website in English, yet?

www.magictora.com or www.torasmagic.com
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Sunny Orlando
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Profile of elushinz
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.

"If carrots got you drunk, rabbits would be f@#d up."
Mitch Hedburg
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Profile of debaser
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.

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