The secret to stopping your hands from shaking, your heart from exploding, and giving better performances

This is a guest post by Liam Anderson...

The Tension Builds...

So here I am, standing in front of the audience with my cards. “Pick a card,” I said as I moved the cards to the girl standing in front of me. “This audience isn’t one of my largest, there’s only about ten people here,” I thought.
Though I must admit, I’m feeling a bit nervous. I mean, I might have said “pick a card” just fine but maybe I should’ve said something else? Oh wait, she’s done looking at it. Okay, now just to have her put it back in the deck. Just let me reach out…..wait?!?! Why are my hands shaking?
That’s okay, I’ll just hold the deck with two hands.
Well, that looks a little ridiculous…..

Okay now time to control the card, just perform a false shuffle……..D*** (oops sorry). Ah, I can’t believe I just flashed that…..stupid shaking hands…. if I could only just finish then…..ah S*** (pardon my french) I flashed again…. sigh, maybe I should just move on with something else…...

We’ve all had it happen, we go to perform and just get hit by a rush of fear and nervousness.

Your heart starts pounding, your hands start shaking, and you seem to lose focus on what you were doing.

Needless to say this can cause grave mistakes in performance and can become rather embarrassing.

Well, it’s time to stop all of that craziness and really get your performances better.

Getting Over Stage Fright:

The sad news, there is no hard and fast cure to stage fright. Even professional performers feel the nervousness before performances.

John Lennon, who performed in front of live audiences thousands of times, was known to throw-up before each performance.

Sometimes, you’re just genetically wired to be nervous.

However, you don’t need to let that nervousness control you.

Just Start!

That’s all it takes. Stage fright always takes place at the beginning of a performance. Though John Lennon would throw-up before a performance, he never did during one (to my knowledge at least). Getting started is the hardest part. After that, your preparation and practice will take over.

You’re Going to Feel Something…

If you already have that nervousness, then it’s probably never going to go away. at the start of a performance. No matter how much you practice, prepare, get used to doing your routine, there will be that element of fear at the beginning. I’ve done the same card tricks for the past ten years and I still feel nervous before performing.
That’s where nailing the beginning comes in. When researching this report, I got in contact with Michael Ammar who was ever so gracious in giving me some advise on the subject. I asked him how he overcomes stage fright, and how to help new magicians deal with it. Here’s his answer:

Arriving at a place where you understand what's going on and what the best ways of dealing with it will be for you, can be a bit of a process.
One thing you'll learn is those fluttery feelings always go away after the first few moments. You eventually hit your stride, you realize they aren't going to kill you, and you start to assimilate the adrenaline into a euphoric energy.
With experience, you'll be able to walk out with that energy working for you, instead of making you consider running away, because you understand what's going on.
You realize those first few moments have to be so completely secure in your mind, and so totally memorized and internalized, that you don't even have to think about them as you're doing them. That's important. Because if what you're doing is relegated to the automatic part of the brain, that part of the brain works 4 times as quick as the 'I'm thinking about what I'm doing and saying' part of the brain. So those first things should be so automatic you can actually be in the moment, instead of thinking about what you're doing.
Also, don't select something that requires people to watch closely while your hands do something intricate. Anyone's hands would shake at those times, so pick something that plays bigger so those little trembles won't be noticed.
After you’ve [become] more comfortable, you can do those things. But if you do that at the very beginning, you're just asking people to look very closely at hands that will be shaking a bit. And that'll catch a shadow on everything else that follows, even though you'll have calmed down by then.

Anyway, that's part of the big picture as I see it. Hope that helps!


In other words: NAIL THE START

He’s saying that as you perform more you’ll become more comfortable and familiar with those nervous feelings. That even when you are new to performing, once you get into your routine and into the performance, you become more comfortable and things just start to flow.

As I think back to all the times I’ve had “the shakes” they all happened at the beginning of my routine, especially when I was performing a sleight that I wasn’t to sure of.

In the third paragraph He commented about not starting with something hard, or intricate. The important thing is nailing the beginning because as you continue you'll fall into the groove and won't worry about those feelings anymore.

Nailing the Start:

My suggestion, self-working magic.

It’s simple, it’s easy, and it just works great. Doing something that requires ZERO sleight of hand will allow you to not worry about messing anything up, or flash a move.

Self-Working magic doesn’t require any sleight of hand or action on the part of the magician to work. Sometimes there is a set-up that occurs, like stacking the deck, or a fool-proof method that allows you to simply talk and watch the routine unfold, like that hideous “count out seven cards trick” I can’t even remember the name of it, but it will not be covered here.

With these types of effects only memorization of the steps is needed.

They are easy to learn, which makes them easier to master, which makes Nailing the Start that much faster.

Key-Card Principle:

The key-card principle is a technique used to determine a spectator’s card. It works by placing a card that you know, the “key,” a known distance from the spectator’s card in the deck.
For example, let’s say my key-card is the 3-of-Clubs and I place it directly underneath the spectator’s card. If I were to look through the deck and find the 3-of-Clubs, I know that the spectator’s card is the one directly above it.

See picture ------------->

Using the Key-Card:

  • Know what the bottom card of the deck is.
  • Have the spectator place their card on the top of the deck and then cut the deck.
  • This will cause the key-card to be placed directly on top of their card.
  • You can then discover what their card is by just thumbing through the deck and finding the card that is directly underneath your Key-card. Now that you know what a key-card is, and how to set it, I want to teach you a pretty awesome way of using it.

Marking the Key-Card

  • Make a special key-card by marking it with a bump.
  • Do this by pressing the middle of a card between the finger nails on your thumb and index finger.
  • This will create a small bump in the middle of the card that can not be seen, but can be felt when you run your fingers over the card.
  • This card is now your key-card.

A wonderful effect you can do with this is a “stop” effect.

The Method:

  • Set your key-card as you would any other card.
  • After you have set the card simply start dealing from the top of the deck moving one card at a time while feeling for your key-card with the bump. Say that you are trying to figure out the card by sensing the spectator’s energy within it (or some such nonsense as that).
  • You can rub your fingers all over the cards without causing suspicion by saying that you are looking for the energy of their card (or whatever you plan to say).
  • When you have found your key-card, their card will be the next card you deal (the one underneath your key-card).
  • Once you know which is the spectator’s card, give it some nice build up and then reveal that that is their card!

I hope this helps you in becoming a better and more comfortable performer.

Free Stuff:

Like I said before, I have more routines and effects for you described in video just head on over to this link and put in your email address.

Over there I’ve got:

  • Rope Through Neck: a visually stunning effect where a rope passes through the performer's neck. Easy Set-up and no chance to choke yourself!
  • Do As I Do: A wonderfully fun effect that has a great ending. This is a classic in the card magic repertoire and is one of the most fun effects to perform.
  • Key-Card Marking: videos dedicated to different ways you can mark keycards and use them in your routines
  • Breathing Exercise Report: an easy breathing exercise that can calm you in a couple of minutes and allow you to really focus on your magic
  • How to Save Yourself from Mistakes: if fear of making mistakes is holding you back, no more. I’m going to teach you how to recover from any mistake and make it look like you actually meant to do what you didn’t mean to do.

I would also like to thank Michael Ammar for being absolutely wonderful and taking time out of his day to answer my question.

Be sure to head over to his Facebook page and “like” him! He is a fabulous and amazing magician, well worth following.

Also check out his website and sign-up for his mailing list (I’m sure he would love it).

p.s. again, don’t forget about your free stuff!

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