One of the hardest parts of any event is when magicians approach the first few guests to arrive. Here's how I handle this situation.
It's 7pm and the event has just started. Only a few guests have arrived and are hanging around the bar area greeting each other. Your client has booked you to start at the same time, so you are walking around wondering who to approach first…
A magician's approach that takes too long.
When you enter the room and start walking around looking at people to decide who to approach first, don't take too long in choosing. Make a decision as quickly as possible and get stuck in, otherwise you walk round and round the room and it will become harder and harder to make that first magician's approach.
I have 2 main types of people I look for when deciding my first group:
1) The most friendly group
Look for a group of lively people that are having fun and seem friendly. That's always a good place to start and will set the pace for the rest of the evening. As more guests arrive, they will see you entertaining a group of people that are full of energy, and it will look like it's all coming from you. Being in the centre of a crowd that is having a good time is a great first impression to make.
2) A couples on their own
This is really the opposite of the friendly group, but it's still a great way to start your gig. Check that the couple isn't in deep conversation. If they appear to be having a discussion it's probably best not to interrupt them. However, if they are both standing together with drinks in hand, and simply don't look like they know any of the other groups, they are a perfect target. You can spend quite a bit of time with them, and if possible, build a group around them.
Sometimes you may see a couple sitting at a table waiting for the rest of their party to arrive. Go and introduce yourself. Ask if you can join them for a moment, and sit down with them. That's a great opportunity to show them a couple of tricks, and with luck you can perform to the larger group that will arrive to join them.
Performing for a few independent couples can get you warmed up, whilst performing some tricks you would not normally perform with a main group. You can spend more time with a couple who will be glad for the entertainment while they wait for their friends to arrive. By the time you have performed for a few couples, most of the guests will have arrived and the event will be in full swing.
3 people I avoid at the beginning of an event.
1) I try to avoid performing magic to the client right at the beginning of an event. I've been hired to entertain their guests, and they want to focus on greeting people. I will perform for the client, But prefer to do it once the event is in full swing, the client is more relaxed, and they've already had some great feedback about me from their guests. At the beginning of an event the client will have a million things to do, They may be tense or even a little stressed
2) I won't to do magic for the events staff at the beginning of the night. Just like the client, they should be focusing on looking after their guests. I always save a little bit of magic at the end of the night of the waiting staff and events manager. However, it is vital that you don't stop them from doing their job.
3) People standing on their own are usually waiting for someone else to arrive, or to return from the bar. It's best to wait until at least another person has joined them before you begin showing them magic otherwise you're bound to be interrupted and have to start from the beginning again. If you are performing to a group and you see somebody standing on their own at the side, try to bring them into the group. Ask the person to come and join in.
The real secret to a good magicians approach
Start as quickly as possible. Don't worry that there are only a few guests at the event. Plenty of people will be arriving soon and you will have all the spectators you need. If you see an animated and friendly group go there first. If there are only a few guests take a couple that is settled with a drink in hand. Jump right into the magic and start performing.
I hope this helps you.
If you would like to find out more tips about how to approach people to show them magic, download this free ebook: