Rapport is essentially one of the biggest things that will distinguish between a great, memorable performer, and a person who does a few magic tricks. It’s about learning how to connect with your audience. Think of a couple of your favorite magicians. Odds are that they have great people skills, the ability to draw the audience in. How many magicians can you think of that lack this skill? Personally, I can’t remember any. And why can’t I remember them? Because there was no human or emotional connection. It’s not really surprising though, as we have been brought up never to talk to strangers. How do we break this and why is it important?
When we talk about emotional connection, it is immediately assumed too often that we are referring to the art of attraction, or upset. Emotional connection covers all areas of humanity, and the secret to gaining a connection with your audience is actually easier than you may think. Essentially, you need the audience to like you. Fortunately, you are already half way there as the audience wants to like you. People naturally want to be relaxed. So, smile!
Happy, smiley people.
The first step to establishing rapport is a simple smile. A smile travels miles. And as a bonus, they are free and require very little practice. A person smiling shows confidence, positivity and requires no words. It is universal and inviting. It shows you are relaxed, and in turn this gives the audience confidence in you, so smile as much and as often as you like. You’ll be surprised how many smiles you receive in return. I find it really helps before I start to have a glass of water at the bar, and strike up a chat with the bar staff, then crack a silly joke. They may not find it funny, but it makes me smile, which is a great head start for your first audience.
Maintain eye contact.
Picture yourself sat in an audience, and the performer glances across the audience, and then makes eye contact directly with you. How do you feel? One thing for sure, you will feel more involved in the act than you did moments before. Now imagine your seated at a table, and a magician approaches the table and begins his act. He spends most of his time looking at his hands, and when he does look up, he looks at everyone at the table other than you. How do you feel? Isolated and uninvolved.
Here, are 3 simple ways to ensure your eye contact is drawing the spectators in:
- Every time you are speaking make sure you are making eye contact.
- Mentally take turns with who you look at. I personally begin making eye contact with the person furthest away from me, opposite side of the table. This then involves the whole table. Then I mentally take turns as to whom to look towards next time.
- Talk to the people, not your props. Your props are purely that, props. You are the magic, not the props.
React and respond.
I think it’s important to ask the audience questions, as soon as possible. Involve them.
They have to respond. If there is music playing, or they have had a meal, ask them how it was. Let them know you are not there purely showing magic. You are a person, part of the entire event, and you want to hear about their evening. They are investing their time in you. Invest some of your time with them. It will be appreciated. If they like you, they will like what you do. But first they need to know that you like them. Also, react and respond not only to the audience, but your surroundings. If something occurs in the background, for example, a waiter drops a plate, comment on it. Involve the surroundings. Turn these possible disruptions into advantages. This will convey to the audience that you are not scripted, you are human.
Reveal your humanity with emotions. You need to reveal a part of you, and you do that by letting us glimpse your innards, your emotions. To show a passion for something is to show humanity. To show humanity makes you instantly likeable and encourages connectivity, which is a natural, human desire in all of us. So, show emotions, be as surprised as the audience, be as disappointed you didn’t find that playing card as the audience is. And should any mistakes occur, mock it with the spectators! Share the emotions of your act.
Leave them wanting more.
Always leave the audience with a smile and a laugh. It’s true that if you leave them smiling and laughing this will be the lasting memory of you. This is also the ideal time to remind them who you are.
“Thank you so much for your time. I’ve had such a great time. Have a few more drinks and I will pop back and show you the same tricks again. I have been (insert name here). Have a lovely evening all.”
Smile, make eye contact, and shake their hands.
Follow these simple guidelines on how to connect with your audience, and you will find your reactions to be much stronger, and most importantly, the audience will enjoy you and your time ten times more, which in turn means they will remember you as a person.