Here's some of the best answers that the magicians on The Merchant of Magic Facebook group gave:
Greg Craddock – Start by doing gigs, where you know friends will be, and have a friend go with you too, start your routine on your friends,while performing to your friends, you'll notice others looking on, so you then move on to them, this will help get your confidence level up.
John O'Riordan – Build rapport by taking an interest in the people around the table. Ask easy questions and do listen out for names and how they are reacting to you.I think it helps if you have nothing in your hands at the start. One startling effect as a start really helps and do not over stay your welcome but give them the opportunity to call you over for some more. Remember if they like you they will like your magic.
Curtis Ori-Orison – Good evening everyone my name is ……….. and I'm part of the entertainment provided by ( name of place) would anybody like to see a little bit of magic………lets them know your employed by the establishment an not some stranger in of the street. Also saying a little bit of magic kinda lets them know its only gonna be a few minutes. Once u start you csn gauge what type of crowd they are and how long to perform for. Try not to approach a table with main courses ( personal preferance )……. that's just my too cents.
Joel Spaven – Take some deep breaths and enjoy, every table is a different experience so learn at the same time but most of all have FUN!
Simon Caine – I used to find it helpful to spot a table and then count to ten before approaching them, it gave me time to gather myself, but kept me focussed. Don't open straight away with a trick. Introduce yourself and ask them little about themselves. Think about how good salesmen work, they don't just immediately launch into their pitch, they first find some common ground and put you at ease. You need them to buy into you first, before they will enjoy your magic. Remember, you want them to remember how magical YOU are, not your props.
When you do start with a trick, make sure it's something you have done thousands of times, that you can do, patter and all, in your sleep. This way, it you can settle your nerves and get into that performance zone. For example, I have used the same opener for the last 7 years. If a table says no, thank them anyway and move along. Plenty more fish.
Graham Prigg – Be confident in what you have learnt, Remember you are showing them something they have never seen before. Above all be yourself.
Sean Adams – I've literally just come back from a gig and i was trying out a new opener that works really well…
I then literally walk up to the table, and just ask them a question “If i was to ask you to think of a playing cards whats the first card that comes to mind”. I just pull out the card they named and go into a quick high impact trick. Its only after that do I introduce who I am and settle into a more structure routine as I'm gettin to know everyone at the table. I guess really its all about finding the perfect opener for you and your style of performing and using that as a way of talking to people.
Nigel Carr – My advice. Don't walk up to a table. Get invited! It's good manners and very easy to do. 1. Have table mats printed introducing yourself with instructions to contact the waiter /waitress for a personal show. Or 2. Ask permission at the table before starting your show.