A handshake is the recognised and official physical contact that magicians can use when they meet a new spectator or client.
Like it or not, people WILL judge you on the quality of your handshake. Performing magic for the public is business. Everyone involved in business should be able to shake hands with confidence. Here's a quick guide to giving a good handshake.
The perfect handshake for magicians.
- Make sure your fingers are kept together with your thumb up and open.
- Place your hand into the other persons so that the other person's web of skin between thumb and first finger touches yours.
- Squeeze firmly, but not in a vice grip. The aim is not to hurt the other person, just to have a firm stable grip.
- Make eye contact and smile as you shake hands.
- The handshake should last for approximatly 3 seconds.
- Movement should come from the elbow rather than the wrist.
- Released after one or two shakes, even if the introduction conversation is still happening.
When magicians should shake hands.
- Meeting a spectator for the first time.
- Meeting a person that you haven't seen for a while.
- Meeting a client to discuss a show.
- Saying good-bye to people after a show.
- If someone else reaches out to shake your hand.
Avoid this when shaking hands.
Make sure your hands are not clammy, spray them with antiperspirant before a gig if you often have sweaty hands.
Make sure your hand is not cold and wet. If you hold a drink, make sure it is with your left hand, if you know you will be shaking hands often.
Sometimes you will get a bad handshake that is lose, limp, or only holding your fingers. Resist the temptation to comment on it. Just smile and shake hands with the person. Meeting a client or spectator is NOT a game of wills, or the time to try to assert your alpha status over the person, that's just ego. Your job as a magician is to entertain them and make them feel good. Commenting publicly that their handshake was not great, or that you would like to attempt the handshake again is bad form and insulting to the person meeting you. Forcing someone to shake your hand again becase you didn't like their handshake, justs puts their 'back up'. It communicates that you are not submissive and are there to challage their alpha role in the group or interaction. Your cleint IS the alpha participant in the communication most of the time, and challenging then on this is not a great way to start your relationship as their entertainer.