Keeping It SIMPLE: Magical Presentation Tips
I’ve been performing magic for a long time. I’ve made my fulltime living with magic and speaking presentations for nearly 13 years, and I’ve been performing for fun for most of my life. Besides performing and speaking in Atlanta, this amazing art has taken me across America and all over the world.
As you can imagine, I’ve seen a lot of magic and a lot of magicians in my travels. If I had to offer a bit of advice to those performers who are trying to improve the impact of their magic presentations, I’d tell them the same thing I’m still telling myself: keep it simple. I intend this not just in the technical and theatrical senses, but also in the following ways:
- Surprising – Does your performance lead to a genuine surprise? Or are people yawning, distracted, and simply giving you a polite golf clap at the end? Have you telegraphed or spoiled the ending through poor scripting, overacting, or trite performance?
- Impossible – This should go without saying, but at some point in your magic or mentalism presentation, make sure to focus attention on the impossible nature of the experience. Take every opportunity to push your performance away from merely presenting puzzling moments to creating truly impossible experiences.
- Meaningful – Your audience wants to care about what you’re doing, but you still have to tell them why they should. Why are you doing this? Are you presenting a metaphor? Teaching a skill? Offering a warning? Relating a fable? What is the purpose for sharing this experience? Remember: “The desire to communicate is the only sane reason to ever get on any stage – ever.” — Judy Carter, Stand-Up Comedy, The Book
- Practiced – Don’t put anything into your performance or presentation that you wouldn’t want to share as a representation of your brand. You know better. Your audience doesn’t have time to watch junk and you will only damage your standing in their memories.
- Logical – Don’t spoil the internal logic of your performance by layering effects or adding multiple kickers. A flourishy production of a royal flush at the end of a two-card transposition may be something well within your skills, but it does not relate to the effect. If you are performing mentalism and have read a spectator’s mind, do not immediately open a prediction showing that you supposedly knew their thought before you started. One power, one effect, one impossibility at a time.
- Engaging – All the technical skill in the world will not overcome the inability to present your material in a way that the audience can understand and relate to. Is your appearance inviting and professional? Is your speech warm and understandable? Is your presentation intriguing? Would most people want to spend time with you right now whether you performed an illusion or not? Become a more interesting and likeable person, and the impact of your magic will similarly increase.
Keep it simple, and keep it S.I.M.P.L.E.
See you next week.