Do you find that sometimes people don’t seem interested in your magic tricks? We received a question from a magician that is having that problem:
‘When performing I sometimes find it hard to keep the audience fully engaged at all times, I was just wondering whether you had any tips that you could give me?’
This is a common problem, but there are a few tips we can give to maximise your chances of retaining everyone’s concentration on your magic tricks.
Firstly you must identify why they are switching off, there could be many reasons, I will list some and some ways to overcome these issues, by no means saying you fall into all these pitfalls, but these are some problems many magicians experience.
Reasons why they may switch off during your magic tricks:
1) You have not introduced yourself properly.
Make sure the first thing you do when you approach a group is to introduce yourself and ask for the names of the people, shake hands and ask them some questions. If it is a meal, was the food good? A wedding, how was the ceremony? If they have an accent ask where they are from and if they have travelled far… Be personable, once you have greeted everyone properly with a hand shake make sure you don’t forget their names, this is important, people LOVE it when you remember their name. A hand shake is a form of contract that you are entering into with the spectators, once you shake hands it is a form of acceptance, this is SO important to making sure they give you respect.
2) They cannot see your magic.
Try to be aware of what magic you are performing and in what spaces. If you are performing to a table of 12 people, then your magic should be presented up by your chest as much as possible. Card magic tricks are OK as long as the magical phases of the tricks are occurring off of the deck. Reveals on top the deck will only be seen and cared about by the people immediately next to you, the spectators over the other side of the table will not be able to see and will switch off. Think card to pocket and wallet, instead of ambitious card…
Ask the people over the other side of the table or at the back of the group whether they can see, make sure you care about them and they will care about you.
3) They cannot hear you.
This is a common problem. Events are LOUD! Sometimes there is music that is louder than you would want, sometimes just the cacophony of the room is enough to drop out a voice. Make sure you project your voice to the furthest person from you. Again, if you are performing to a table of spectators then address the person furthest away from you, ask them if they can hear OK. You can also borrow something from them and then return to the other side of the table, this will make sure he or she gets a great head on look at your magic tricks, and you will have that side of the table’s attention.
4) They do not like magic tricks.
It is estimated that when a group of people are targeted by pretty much anything, the rule of thumb would be that one third are interested, one third are on the fence, and one third are most likely not interested.
Now this hopefully is not the case and certainly isn’t the case the whole time when performing but when booked to perform you have to go up to a group and show them magic regardless. If someone doesn’t like magic tricks you’ll be able to tell straight away, and you can be brief with your performance. Maybe tell the group you will come back later (if there are people who love magic as well) this way when you return you can time it, so the person who was uninterested has moved on to speak with some others. You can’t win all the time, and you have to be able to accept the rejection if you do meet a group like this, it is not a reflection on you, more on them so don’t sweat it.
5) You have not fully gained their attention in the first place.
If you have not introduced yourself properly to everyone when you begin, maybe it is because you have not got everyone’s attention when you ‘appeared’. A quick tip to make sure that everyone pays attention to you is to be bold, confident and DO NOT HESITATE when you approach the group. If it is your job to perform professionally then this is what you must do, just like a waiter will address a table without a second thought, you must too. You can also greatly increase the odds of you getting attention from everyone by making eye contact with everyone and saying things like:
Slightly stress the word everyone, people will hear this and their brain will say, ‘I heard the word everyone, this includes me’ and they will look up and pay attention. You can also walk around the table and ask questions if I am borrowing money I will ask the table to nominate the most generous person at the table, this will get everyone’s attention and usually lead to some fun banter.
6) You are performing and addressing only the person that has assisted you.
Make sure you address everyone when you perform, keep the eye contact with the whole group and keep mentioning people’s names, get them involved, ask them what they think the spectator should do if they are given an option during your magic tricks, create bigger circles with your performance.
Focusing on one person when you perform will often lead to you not noticing that all of a sudden, people cannot see the magic tricks you are performing, and they cannot hear the magic because you are focusing on one person or area. Have people all help out, maybe you borrow some money from someone and you then have someone else note the serial number, then have someone else hold your wallet and another hold your wrist when you go to vanish the note, again you are drawing bigger circles when you perform.
So there you have it, some of my top tips to help make sure you gain and retain everyone’s attention when you perform your magic tricks to groups of spectators.