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Bill Hallahan
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Inner circle
New Hampshire
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Profile of Bill Hallahan
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.
Humans make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to create boredom. Quite astonishing.
- The character of ‘Death’ in the movie "Hogswatch"
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Portland, OR
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Profile of Turk

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).

Magic is a vanishing Art.

This must not be Kansas anymore, Toto.

Eschew obfuscation.
Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
Ossining, NY
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Profile of Jonathan Townsend
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!

...to all the coins I've dropped here
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N. Ireland
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Profile of Donnay
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.
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Profile of magicgeorge
A good nights sleep helps too.
Jonatan B
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Gothenburg, Sweden
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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.

Jonatan Bank
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Los Angeles
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Profile of filmyak
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!
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Cogito, ergo sum scripsit
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Profile of rrubin98

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
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Baltimore, MD
109 Posts

Profile of frank

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. Smile

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. Smile

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Landrum, S.C. by way of Chicago
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Profile of Stanyon
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! Smile


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!


aka Steve Taylor

"Every move a move!"

"If you've enjoyed my performance half as much as I've enjoyed performing for you, then you've enjoyed it twice as much as me!"
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Texas (USA)
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Profile of RandyStewart
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.
Mago Mai
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Profile of Mago Mai
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
I invite all of you to share some of my magic on videos.Please, CLICK HERE
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