Performing magic is an act. The best magicians are the ones who can capture the audience’s attention and imagination at every turn. To be a good magician you need to be a good actor, and you need to have a commanding presence.
If good magic was just about performing the illusions, then anyone could do it. If all you had to do was follow some steps and pull a rabbit out of a hat, then you’d have no problem. You’d be famous! But it’s not being able to pull a rabbit out of a hat that counts, it’s the way you pull it out of the hat.
You’ve learned your tricks. You’ve spent time performing them for audiences. You’ve pounded the pavement, and you’re worked really hard, but you’ve reached a bit of a plateau. Major success seems to elude you, and you know the answer lies in improving your stage presence. Your magic is good and your skills are solid, now you need to take everything to the next level.
5 Steps To Improve Your Stage Presence
Improving your stage presence will give you the edge that you need to take your act from a sideshow to a main event. It will help get you noticed, and it will give both your career and your ego a little boost. Here are 5 great tips on how to improve your stage presence and start booking those bigger gigs today.
1. Put Energy Into Practicing
Ugh. You might have been hoping for a simpler answer, but the first and best way to improve your stage presence is to practice. You have to practice your magic until it becomes second nature. When you get to the point that you are no longer concentrating on the mechanics of a trick, you can spend more energy on wowing your audience. The more you practice, the more at home you will feel with your routine, and the more at home you feel with the audience.
Any kind of live performance is tough to do, but magic is especially hard because your audience is constantly trying to spot the trick. With theater and music audiences just sit back and enjoy the show, but with magic they often want to outsmart the magician. At every turn you’ll encounter audience members who are using their eagle eyes to spot your mistakes and undo the illusions you create.
That’s pretty nerve-wracking to be up against, but the best way to combat it, is to practice. Your audience can’t spot an error if you don’t make one, and they can’t pick apart your tricks if you move effortlessly from one to the next. They won’t have time to be critical because they’ll be too busy being astounded.
Practice also breeds confidence. Most people are quick to tell you that confidence is the way to improve your stage presence, but how do you get confidence? You get it through practice. Practice and confidence form a nice little circle. The better you are at something the more confident you feel and therefore the better you do. It just goes round and round.
Your practice can take many forms, but make sure that it’s something that constantly challenges you. Practicing at home is important. It’s a great way to memorize key points and keep your routine on track, but magic needs people.
Strangers make for a tough, if not impossible, crowd, so challenge yourself to approach strangers, maybe at a bar or a party, and perform a trick or two. You’ll likely encounter people who really aren’t into magic, and who might even be a bit standoffish. This is exactly the kind of crowd you want. If you can win them over, you get a nice little confidence boost.
2. Watch Other Great Magicians Perform
When you’re trying to create your own persona it can be difficult to watch other great magicians perform. Sure, you want to be inspired by them, but you don’t want to simply imitate them.
You want to be your own magician, and so your natural impulse may be to close yourself off from other magicians. But you can in fact seek inspiration without succumbing to influence. You can learn from other magicians and still remain an individual.
So go to performances. Watch magicians live. Watch YouTube videos of magicians. Watch reruns of magic shows on television. Live and breathe magic. Watching other magicians perform will open up a world of possibilities to you.
Keep a notebook and jot down ideas constantly. Watch street magicians perform, and take some mental notes. Observe how they are able to capture the attention of their audience. Listen to the sounds of their voices. Take note of how commanding they appear. Watch how they approach people. Watch how they deal with skeptics, or even hecklers.
All of these things can help you improve your own performance. Inspiration is everywhere, and it can only help you.
3. Become A Master Of Misdirection
Mastering misdirection means that you are in control 100% of the time. You control where your audience is looking and what they are paying attention to. Without misdirection your act is less convincing, and you’ll wind up with audience members picking it apart.
Magic works because of misdirection, so it’s worth spending time perfecting it. The better your misdirection, the better your overall act.
Misdirection can take many forms, so you’ll need to find out which ones work best for you. If you’re funny then you might find that humor helps to distract your audience. Or maybe you use the audience members themselves. Interact with your audience. Talk to them. Call attention to them. These interactions will turn the focus away from you and allow you to perform more astounding feats.
4. Make Sure You’re Having Fun
At first glance this sounds more trite than helpful, but think back to all those magicians that you’ve been watching. Though they may come from different backgrounds, practice different tricks, and employ different techniques, what do they all share in common?
They share a love of magic. You can tell they share this love of magic because they have fun performing it. Magic is supposed to be fun. To ensure that it is, you need to bring energy and charisma to the stage every time you perform.
If you’ve been practicing magic for a long time with limited success it can be easy to burnout on the trade. Unfortunately, when this happens, it shows up in your act. Think of when you encounter people out in the world who dislike their jobs. It shows, right? That means if you lose the fun of magic your audience can feel it.
So how do you ensure that you keep magic fun? Humor and energy are always helpful, but when all else fails, considering booking a few shows for kids. When magic seems old to you, try getting a little miniature magical motivation.
When you perform for kids and see the wonder and astonishment at the simplest of tricks, you just might be reminded of all the reasons you love it. You get the chance to experience magic in a way that is fresh, fun, and new, and it’s sure to give your act a little shot in the arm in the process.
5. Record And Watch Your Performances
Watching other magicians perform will give you lots of tips and inspiration, but to truly make improvements in your own act you need to see it for yourself. By recording and analyzing your performance you can give yourself a baseline to work from. You can see where effects fall flat or where the audience seems disengaged.
These are things that you might not catch while you are performing. When you’re on stage, or in front of a crowd, your attention is focused on doing your tricks well. It’s hard to be objectively critical of your performance in the moment, but watching recordings can give you the time and space to explore areas that need to be improved.
You’ll also get to put yourself in the position of an audience member. You see the tricks from a different perspective. Do you command the stage? Are you easy to hear? Do you look confident and in control? Are you smiling the whole time? Are you “on” the entire time? Take notes as you watch and be critical without being harsh. Remember to make note of all the good things that you do too.
Improve Your Stage Presence And Boost Your Career
Improving your stage presence takes lots of time and patience. There is no one method that will amplify your presence, boost your confidence, and transform you from average to extraordinary. To do all of those things you have to put in work, and you have to rely on trial and error. You have to get in front of people and pretend that you are the greatest magician there ever was, and one day, you just might wake up to find that it’s true.