10 Things a Magician Taught Me About Presentation

My wife and I visit Sydney annually the last few years. One of the places we have visited was the Australian Museum of Magical Arts headed by a Greek named James Karp. The museum is located along Riley street, two blocks away from the bigger Australian Museum.

The Australian Museum of Magical Arts has a small frontage, inside is a 50-seater theater restaurant where magic shows are held every weekend. I wish every museum offers option to watch an interactive show instead of their usual personalized tour. I dreamed of performing as a magician when I was young and enjoyed both the tour on a friday and returned for the dinner show the next night.

I picked up 10 lessons from magician James and asked permission if I can write about my experience without revealing any magic secrets where we earlier were made to sworn to secrecy. Here goes:

  1. Trust is indispensable in a presentation. The presenter has the first three seconds to gain or lose it. What you wear, how and where you stand, and how you project can either help or destroy trust. Magicians used costume like tuxedo (or coat) and venue like theater (introduced by Robert Houdin over a century ago) to gain respect, while a smile helps establish trust.
  2. Signals are used to convey honestly. An open arms instead of crossed arms is one way.
  3. Light and sound helps heighten the senses and affects moods and feelings. Standing in front of an orange light makes the face brighter and more trustworthy. Loud music helps complete a magician’s task they do not want you to hear.
  4. Recruitment is key, The magician’s assistant is typically 5’5 in height and about 48 kilos in weight with flexible body.
  5. Connect with your audience by establishing rapport, and involve people in as many tables or sections in Q&A or as volunteers.
  6. Understand human beings. They think in terms of pattern so disrupting their pattern is a way of conditioned learning.
  7. Preparation and continuous practice are needed to perfect execution of their presentation. What to say, how to say and when to say it are equally important.
  8. Preparation is also anticipation, in order to prepare for the unexpected as well. Have Plan B in case things do not go as planned.
  9. The goal of magicians is to entertain and use magic only for good. Use humor, make the presentation worth spending time.
  10. There is ethics in magic, hypnotism should never be resorted to. Respect for the audience is a must. Never make fun of the audience in an offensive way.

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