Mark writes: 'I hesitate and say 'Ummmmm' a lot when I perform, how can I prevent this from happening?'
This, Ummm, is a common problem with, err, performances and any public speaking.
There are a few tips and tricks to help overcome this, err, problem!
1) Be aware of this problem!
The first step is to be aware of when you are saying Ummm and err. This usually happens when you are thinking about either what to say or what to do. The only way to overcome this issue really is to know your patter, know your routine structure and to know your sleights. This should be learned in practice, of course you can 'jazz' a magic performance, but you must know the core principles of what you are doing inside out first.
2) Plan what you are going to say.
This does not necessarily mean you have to fully script your magic performance, if this does not suit you then that is OK. What it does mean is that you should know roughly what key points you are going to convey to your spectators. Think of bullet points in your mind and clearly understand where you are going with these points.
3) Slow down
If you analyse your performance, you may not realise that you are talking or performing your magic too fast. A true professional knows how to slow their magic down; this makes everything more convincing and enjoyable. Try this… Video tape yourself performing, this is so much easier in this day and age as everyone has a phone with a video function on it. Set the phone up and run through a routine with some friends or family. When you watch it back you should be watching out for things like your timing, you enunciate your words and how quickly you are speaking. At first you will probably find that you are a mash up of hesitations, pauses and speaking quickly. This will most likely tie in with the pauses being when you are thinking of a sleight and the fast speaking moments will be when you are actually performing these sleights. See where you can slow down and where you can speak more fluently. If you can identify these moments in your routines, apply that knowledge in every magic practice session and performance from there on in, you will find your magic performances improving dramatically.
4) Pause and be silent
When performing a second can seem like a lifetime in your mind. The thoughts running through your head can be intense and overbearing, remember this is all in your head, not your spectator's. Your inner monologue is your own and as loud as it may seem to you your spectator's cannot hear it, they are not influenced by it or affected by it. A momentary pause can seem like a long time to you; however, it is most likely to be only a second or two. A silent pause for a second or two can seem thoughtful and interesting; a seconds worth of 'ummm-ing' or 'errrr-ing' will come across and uncertainty and will make you seem unsure of yourself. As a magician, you should always be in control a lot of 'ummm-ing' or 'errrr-ing' can undermine this image of control. So remember a moments worth of silence
One of the best ways I have found to counteract the hesitations is to relax myself before performing. Take some deep breaths and centre yourself before performing. Fill your lungs with air and breathe out slowly, do this a few times and feel your heart rate go down. Let the tension in your body slip away as you do this, it is almost a form of self hypnosis. You will find you are in a much better place when you go to perform, and everything will flow better throughout your routine. If you feel nervous, there are techniques you can use to reduce these feelings.
So these are my 5 tips to help counteract the Ummm-ing and errrr-ing that can plague your performance. Try them out, you will be surprised at how effective it really is. The first step is to identify how much these hesitations occur. Simply being aware of this issue will reduce the amount you do it. I really hope these tips help.