#5 – When it comes to polishing your secret move, in magic or in business, smoother is usually better than faster.
“The hand is quicker than the eye” is a useful misconception. One of the great myths of magic – and business – is that it’s all about speed. The very word “prestidigitation” means “fast fingers,” and many people think that the magic is produced because magicians can move their hands too quickly for you to follow.
The truth is that the hands don’t have to move at superhuman speed in order to create magic. In 1902, a man using the nom de plume “S. W. Erdnase” wrote about secret actions in his classic book The Expert at the Card Table. His discussion of cheating included a segment on palming cards in which he wrote, “It is very simple to to place one or several cards in the palm and conceal them by partly closing and turning the palm downward, or inward; but it is entirely another matter to palm them from the deck in such a manner that the most critical observer would not even suspect, let alone detect, the action.” When executing the critical action, Erdnase knew that the goal was to do the move smoothly and within the natural experience of the situation so as not to arouse any notice or suspicion that an action was happening at all. Smoother is better than faster.
Sure, a secret move shouldn’t be executed without the speed that comes with competence and expertise, but once that is achieved, the truly polished performer looks at smoothness as the goal. Why? Because a fast, jerky movement jars the spectator out of the experience of the effect. Even if the sudden movement doesn’t generate suspicion or an attempt to decipher the method, at the very least it has reminded them that there *is* a method at work, and that undermines the experience of magic.
What about you?
Have you interacted with a brand or a business whose process had so many stops and starts that you lost the experience of service? Have you gone around and around with a business as they explained their internal business processes to you for no apparent reason? Let me hear from you in the comments!