Amy Cuddy gave an excellent TED talk showing how body language can change not only how people see you, but also how you feel about yourself and your own abilities. For magicians, this is essential advice.
I highly recommend you take the time to watch her talk on this subject:
Close up magicians cold call social groups and attempt to form a relationship many times each booking. As you approach each group, you are making a first impression, in much the same way as a job interview. In the first few moments of your introduction, spectators are making assumptions about you based on your appearance, posture, expression and behaviour. A positive and confident approach goes a long way towards smoothing your introduction into the group and their willingness to give you attention.
Problems for magicians.
When a magician approaches a new group of people, he or she has several obstacles to overcome including:
- Capturing attention.
- Developing a rappor.
- Dealing with alpha spectators in a power play for group attention.
- Overcoming stereotypes.
- Engaging interest in the magic.
That's a lot of work to do, in the first few seconds of your introduction. Even established professional magicians experience a form of stage fright when they first start performing at a gig. This stage fright can often present itself as a nagging doubt in your own abilities, act, or the audience's interest in seeing your magic. Many magicians experience a fear of 'being found out' as if everyone will suddenly accuse them of not really being a magician. It's not so much about the magic tricks going wrong, but an irrational feeling that everyone will say. 'hang on, you're not really a magician are you!' This feeling stems from feeling that you are just playing the part of a magician, rather than actually being one.
Magicians need to establish their confidence and proficiency as quickly as possible. A slouched, closed posture signals insecurity. Spending time working on your posture, stance, and body language can radically transform your success as a magician.
Our own confidence greatly affects the overall reactions that our magic performance produce. That's why Amy Cuddy's advice is so useful to performers. If we send the time before a gig, ensuring that our own frame of mind is positive and confident, it will resonate throughout our who performance. Amy demonstrates that being aware of your body language, and accepting the ability to 'fake it until you make it' can lead you to 'fake it until you become it!'.