7 Things About Magic That You Should Have Learned In Business School - #6

#6 – Your props should be in great condition, but they shouldn’t be the star of the show, either onstage or in business.

Your props or tools are a means to an end. They should communicate your professionalism, but they are not supposed to be the main attraction.

Your props or tools are a means to an end. They should communicate your professionalism, but they are not supposed to be the main attraction.

Unless you’re performing a theme act set in a junkyard, there’s not really an excuse for performing with props that are in disrepair. The poor impression they make will be a psychological barrier between you and the effect you’d like to have on your audience. Audiences don’t care to understand the economics of purchasing unusual materials, nor the particulars of trying to fit multiple performances into a day. All they know is what they experience during the show that they have paid to see. If you are giving them wrinkled silk scarves, peeling paint, or badly-fitting costumes, then even the best illusion you perform will have less impact than it should because part of the audience’s attention is being spent on noticing those flaws.

While the props shouldn’t be in bad shape, they should also not steal focus from the performance. Some performers – usually those of little experience – have a tendency to think that enough paint, prism tape, or varnish will make a prop so attractive that it will do all the work of sustaining an audience’s interest. But the props can never do that job, because props are not the star of the show.

Whether you’re on a stage or in a retail environment, an office, or some other business, your audience wants your tools to be in good shape, but they are far less interested in the tools than they are in what you will build with them. You certainly can’t build a quality product without using tools, but you can’t sell a shoddy product because you built it using a great tool.

What about you?

Can you think of an experience where the tools or environment were great, but the delivery of the service or product was still lousy? What is your “lipstick on a pig” story? Let me hear from you in the comments!