How to Develop Magical Confidence – Secrets of a Magician (Maxim #4)

Two more maxims to go. Today, we’re already on Maxim #4. To read on my earlier posts on the series, here’s Maxim #1, Maxim #2 and Maxim #3.


Maxim Four: Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the lessons that all magicians learned early on is to make the difficult look simple. And the only way to do that is through lots of practice. Mastery is only a matter of practice away. And they have to put in the hours to reach the level of mastery to be confident in front of the crowd.

Done poorly, a magic trick can be seen across the room. Done well, it’s invisible even to the person nearest to the magician. To do that, his technique has to be so effortless that there’s no “tell”, no extra tension in the muscles of his hands. Truly invisible.

That’s what magicians do. They devote many years of their lives to practice so hard to perfect techniques that no one can see! They use the mirrors, they use video recordings, and they use real people to practice with. Until they develop the right habits in movement, that they can flow effortlessly during performances.

Nobody wants to watch a performer make something difficult looks difficult. The audience won’t have much confidence in the performer. They like to see perfection, they like to enjoy masterpieces, they expect you to be at your peak and at the top of your game. To wow them at every performance.

How does a top magician like Steve Cohen practice? In his book, he let his readers in on his secret practice routines. Here’s a summary:


  1. Silence.  First, he’d perform his entire trick in silence. He’d focus on the physical aspects of his tricks with the props.
  2. Motionless. Second, he’d put all the props away and speak out loud through the routines. His hands would hang by his side without doing anything. This is the part when he only focus on the verbal expressions of the performance.
  3. Darkness. Then, he’d perform everything, movement, props, verbal, except that his eyes would be closed. This forces him to rely on “muscle memory” and his kinesthetic sense. This would also exercise his spatial intelligence.
  4. People Practice. The final part would be to perform in front of real people. No matter how well he practices privately, when it’s time to do it in front of real people, the dynamics somehow will always shift.


Similarly, you can also break down your practice routines. Whether you do stage performance, selling, public speaking, presenting to corporates, or going for an interview, you can break down your “performance” into steps. You can implement and improvise Cohen’s four-step into your own routine. It will help you develop confidence before your next performance.


Practice Your “Outs”

It’s time to pay homage to Murphy’s Law. If things can go wrong, it will! It’s common to commit many mistakes during your practices. Better to make them now than later. And it’s actually good to see the various possibilities that things can go wrong as you practice, so that you can prepare for your “outs”.

What are “outs”? Think fire, then think fire drill. You go through all the emergency procedure ahead of time before “disaster” strikes so that it becomes second nature to you. To prepare to use them in case circumstances calls for it.

As mentioned in Maxim #2, magicians usually prepare hidden avenues in case something goes wrong. They would know how to get out of precarious situations.

Sometimes, performers deliberately practice with a certain handicap. This is also common for professional sportsmen when they practice their endless drills during training sessions. These prepare their body and mind to work harder and be extra creative. There will be no excuses if things go wrong, when circumstances turn unfavorable or when unfair decisions are given against them. These are all very common and part and parcel of sports and life. Their mindset are trained to take full responsibility and blame no one else. You see, professional performers are obligated to present audience with a graceful conclusion to the performance, no matter how flubbed things may become.

Go through every possible problems that you can think of during your practices. Think of creative solutions. Develop your inner resourcefulness to solve problems as you go along. When it’s showtime, you’ll be armed, ready and supremely confident to handle anything that comes your way. You’ll be unstoppable!

Remember to practice, practice, practice. Repetition is the mother of all skills!


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