Performance Anxiety for Magicians
Updated: Jan 27
Proven strategies that will help you combat performance anxiety and lock that little overthinking Gremlin away!
Worried about your BIG gig?
NERVOUS of what people will think?
Not sure how to CONTROL your anxiety?
FRIGHTENED that everything will go to pot?
So you know that you're good, you love performing magic and have spent endless hours practising sleights, moves and your presentation.
However, to date you have only performed for friends and family, but now find yourself booked for a gig... eek!
As the weeks, days, hours, minutes loom closer, you get that feeling of dread and realisation of "WHAT HAVE I DONE"?!
What happens if I turn up and it's a complete disaster, what if everyone laughs at me, what if they say I'm rubbish, what if, what if, what if...
These negative thoughts are indicative that you are suffering from performance anxiety.
A simple and direct solution is to STOP worrying about what can go wrong, and get EXCITED about what can go right!
Try and replace the negative thoughts with positive ones and visualise yourself taking the house down.
Stop worrying about what can go wrong, and get excited about what can go right.
The University of Leicester have created a great table to help combat negative thoughts, which may arise close to a performance:
Overthinking is one of the biggest causes of unhappiness, and once our mind is in that particular gear, it can be difficult to shift. There is nothing in this world that can trouble you as much as your own thoughts.
What you need to realise is that your mind is trying to protect you from getting hurt, both physically and emotionally. It is only doing what it thinks is best for you.
You need to REASON with your thoughts and appreciate what they are saying, but also consider the fact that they are taking away an experience from you and others.
There is nothing in this world that can trouble you as much as your own thoughts.
Think about the end goal and the feeling you are going to get when you have done a wonderful performance and everyone is CLAPPING and CHEERING you on. It is the same dopamine release you get when you finish a session in the gym.
The difficulty is actually doing the 'thing', but if you remember how amazing the end feeling is, or could be, then that should be your target thought.
So in a snapshot, here are FIVE strategies to help keep your cool:
1. Preparation - Practise makes perfect, so make sure that your routines are well polished so that you don't fumble. If you are starting off, try and do some easy self-working magic that will amaze the audience. This way, you are not worrying about your magic skills, and can focus on the presentation. As the old saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
2. Stay in the Present Moment - The mind loves to drift off and start thinking about what could go wrong and 'remember that one time years ago when you dropped the cards'. Well, we all make mistakes, that's life. Don't let past experiences hold you back and don't worry about the future as it's not even happened. You can't change either of these outcomes, so the best thing is to live in the present and enjoy the moment.
3. Breathing - This might sound like a simple thing, but if you control your breathing, then everything will be in harmony. Start with the fundamentals and breathe in slowly and gently far into your lungs, allowing the breath to stay present for a few seconds before exhaling. Do this for a few minutes and you will find that it makes a world of difference.
4. Focus - Remember, it is you mission to perform magic and entertain people. Your mission is not to be the most amazing magician in the world and think that you need to emulate David Blaine, Dynamo or any other magician. It is important to be yourself and remember, most of the audience have not seen close-up magic before and will not know what to expect. You always have the upper hand, even if things don't go 100% to plan.
5. Have Fun - What else are you doing magic for? It is obvious that you love magic, performing and seeing people amazed. Remember how you first felt when you saw your first magic trick and imagine that's what people will feel too. Stay happy, have fun and the rest will come naturally.
I know that countless magicians suffer from performance anxiety and it would be a great shame if this minor annoyance stood in the way of your amazing talent! Don't stop and don't give in, you can do this, I know it!
I hope this article helps and if you like it, please share so that others can benefit from it too, and remember to subscribe to our mailing list.
Best of luck!