5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Magic Shows and Make Your Customers Beg to Hire You Again and Again!

Imagine that you have walked out on stage and just finished your opener to rave applause.  Your show continues like a well tuned sports car until you get to the fourth magic effect.  You introduce the magic trick and the audience quiets in eager anticipation.  You begin to patter and suddenly realize that the trick was not set up correctly.  You can’t finish the trick. You are standing in the middle of the stage alone with no out and nowhere to go.  The crowd’s silence shifts from anticipation to nervousness.  What do you do?

I have been there and it’s no fun.  A witty retort like “you didn’t want to see this trick anyway” or “bad magic” is a disservice to both the performer and the audience.  I want to share with you my simple method of setting up magic shows so this does not happen to you.  This method will improve the professionalism of your show, free you to concentrate on your performance, and improve the quality of your show as viewed by your customers.  In short, it will improve your magic shows and make your current customers beg to hire you again and again.  Why?  You look and act more professional and your customers will reward your increased professionalism with more bookings.  Happy customers mean happy magicians!

I assume you have a computer.  This process can be done manually but it is much easier with a computer.  You will need an office suite (word processor, spread sheet, presentation software, etc.).  Most computers come with the software already loaded on it.  If you need a good FREE office suite download Libre Office.

Step 1

You need to create a word processing file for each trick you intend to perform at future magic shows.  As soon as I get a new magic trick, I create a file for it in my word processor.  The file name uses the following format:


For example, my Substitution Trunk Illusion file is Sub Trunk-08-12-2015.doc.  This file name translates to Substitution Trunk Illusion file created on August 12, 2015.  The file naming system allows me to easily keep track of my most current file version and have a backup of prior versions if I ever choose to go back to them.  I keep all of my magic trick files in a folder called “Magic Tricks” on my computer.

Step 2

Each trick file needs to have these sections in this order:

  1. Trick Name
  2. Items Needed to Perform Trick
  3. Setup Notes
  4. Brief Description of Effect
  5. Performance Script
  6. Notes

Trick Name

This section needs little explanation.  Use the trick’s original name or a name you can easily remember.

 Items Needed to Perform Trick

This is one of the most important sections of your file.  You need to list in detail every item required to perform the trick.  I usually separate out the consumables from the non-consumables.  Consumables would include any item that is used up during the performance.  For example flashpaper, paper money, and lemons are listed as consumables for my bill in lemon trick.  Separating out the consumables means I am less likely to overlook them when packing up my show.

The non-consumables list is a great checklist to make sure you have everything you need to perform the magic trick.

 Setup Notes

This section reminds you about any important points to remember when setting up your trick.  As tricks come in and out of my performing repertoire, it is a nice reminder of key points I may have forgotten if I haven’t performed the magic trick in a while.

Brief Description of Effect

You can use the description from the magic trick’s ad or write a brief one yourself.  I have found it useful to have a description handy if I am looking to add tricks for an upcoming show.  You have a vague idea (or none at all) about what this trick is about.

 Performance Script

This section contains the complete script that I use to perform the trick.  I write out everything I do and say in the form of a script.  This is the baseline for my performance of the trick.  Once the script is mastered I am able to freely go on and off script during my performance.

Writing the script is a good way to study the intersection of this magic trick and your performing style.  I work on the script all of the time.  I view it as a work in progress. It is a good exercise to avoid just using the canned patter that comes with the trick.  Try writing your own script out for a magic trick or two.  You will be pleasantly surprised with the reactions you get from your audience.

Finally, the script is a nice refresher if you have not performed the trick in a while.  I hated having developed a good routine for an effect only to have forgotten most of it because I had not used in a couple of years.


This section contains any of your thoughts and ideas for the magic trick.  Put anything and everything you want to remember or try with the trick.  This is a good place to record your insights about why the trick didn’t play as well as you thought it would.

Step 3

You have created individual magic trick files for all of the effects in your performing repertoire.  A customer calls you on the phone and books you to perform at their next event. When you are ready to design a show for a customer here’s what to do:

Create a folder called “Customers.” 

Within the “Customers” folder create a subfolder using the customer’s name.  I don’t use a date with the folder because I expect to have several shows over many years in this folder.  For example Barb Jones calls me up and books me to perform at her son’s birthday party.  I create a subfolder called “Barb Jones” in my “Customers” folder.

Create a word processing file (called a “show file”)

Use the following naming format:

Customer-Month-Day-Year – In the above example, I might create a file called Barb Jones-01-15-2015.doc.  This file would contain the show I performed for Barb Jones on January 11, 2015.  This record is great to have when she rebooks you for a show.  You have a permanent record of all of your shows.

The show file has the following format:

I.  Details of the show including time and place.
II.  Opening – including any music or other setups
III.  Trick  1 – Trick Name
A. Items Needed to Perform Trick
B. Setup Notes
IV.  Trick  2 – Trick Name
A. Items Needed to Perform Trick
B. Setup Notes
V.  Trick 3 –  Trick Name
A. Items Needed to Perform Trick
B. Setup Notes
VI.  Trick 4 –  Trick Name
A. Items Needed to Perform Trick
B. Setup Notes
VII.  Closing  – including any music or other setups

I create the show file by going back to my magic trick files and cutting and pasting the first three sections into the show file.  Using the order suggested in Step 2 makes this faster.  All of your hard work in the prior step makes this step really quick.  What you end up with is a detailed checklist customized for each show.

Step 4

Having finished and saved the show file from the last step, this is the most important step.  Print out the show file.  I’ll say it again PRINT OUT THE SHOW FILE.  It is THAT important.

My father was a pilot.  Growing up he stressed the importance of the checklist.  If he didn’t run his checklist he didn’t fly.  I attended many funerals of other pilots who blew off this advice.  The point is that it doesn’t matter how often you have done the magic trick or the same show. Always use the show list as your checklist.  The show list will serve as your checklist at two points for every show.

The first use is packing up all of your props before your show.  Check off items on the list as you pack. I will often find out that I am out of one or more of the consumables. Leave enough time when you pack to get what you need.  Don’t pack your show thirty minutes before you leave without having run over your checklist/show file earlier.  Having packed up your show, you are ready for the final step.

Step 5

At the show, you will use your show file as a checklist to set up your props prior to going on stage.  I start at the beginning of the checklist and work my way down.  Having finished I go over the checklist once again to make sure I have not overlooked anything.

At that point I can relax and get ready to walk out on stage.  I am confident that I won’t face the situation described at the beginning of this article.  It is a wonderful feeling being sure that everything is set and ready to go.  I can focus my energy on my performance and the audience.  This leads to a more enjoyable and professional show.

You have enough things on your mind when performing than worrying about whether your props are set up.  Try this easy five step approach to organizing and setting up your show.  You will find that your show will be more professional.  More importantly you will find that your audiences will find your shows more professional. This will increase the perceived value of your magic show.  Higher perceived value leads to customers begging to hire you as a magician again and again.  Try this system out for yourself.

Magically yours,

magic tricks sig file


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