Opening to a group.

Struggling with an effect? Any tips (without giving too much away!) you'd like to share?

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Opening to a group.

Postby Jing » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:04 pm



I want to get a feel for people's approaches to groups of people, either in close up or stand up. I understand that everyone is different and has their own style, but I was reading recently about an idea of trying to match the intensity level of the group you are working for and then building them up with you as your show increases in excitement. I.e. Your magic gets more and more amazing, so you shouldn't really start off all fast and loud, you should mirror them and then lead them. That's the basics of rapport building right?

I know it's said in some places to start with a great effect, but I'm not sure that's the case really, and other advice says that the first trick should be good, really good, but actually the weakest thing that you do. Ideally the first trick should communicate the rest of the show. I like that idea, but I don't think that's the case in my shows.
With my close up, I often start with an ACR which I guess is lots of sleight of hand and misdirection. It's something fun and upbeat and puzzling, but doesn't pack as much of a punch as say a card to impossible location, or something that could more easily be dressed up as magic.

In my kids shows, I start with a very strong piece of magic, because I want to show everyone that it is a magic show, and that I won't just be falling over for 45 minutes.

In terms of my opening line, it is in most shows,
"Good evening / good afternoon / Hi
Guys / ladies and gentlemen
My name's Ed. I'm a magician. and I would love to share a little magic with you."

So to the questions.
What do you say to open up to a group of people?
What energy level are you at when you open up a group?
What are you trying to passively communicate to the group?
How does your magic reflect that?
and any advice on the above.

Side note - I'm not looking for advice on being confident enough to approach a group - I can do that, I just want to make my openings / first impressions more effective.

Thanks, in advance.
Ed.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby Lady of Mystery » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:13 am

I've found that the best way to open with a group is to just be friendly, forget about any magic to start with and ask them how they are and how their day's been. A couple of minutes of friendly chatter will mean that they're comfortable with you, know who you are and most importantly (for me as a mentalist at least) you will have a good feel for the group and who will respond best to your effects.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby shuffleshuffle » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:33 pm

1.
if a table is loud go to table with fire wallet.

sorry to interrupt but did someone drop their wallet?
light it - go "HOLY c*** (not the best)" and appear your cards/object for performing from behind.

proceed to magic.

2.
if they table is in a 'lull' ie quiet, calmly introduce yourself and ask someone to help you with something.

3.
If a table is communicating, and chatty, make sure you gain all the attention with a firm approach to the peron who is currently talking.

thats what i do. doesn't really matter but the best tables are always the ones where i start off with an unexpected piece of magic.
everyone is different and people never remember how you start.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby Lee Smith » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:00 pm

I spend a lot of time on this subject in my walkabout lecture. I will post more here when I get more time. It maybe useful to some of you.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby kevmundo » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:11 pm

Lee Smith wrote:I spend a lot of time on this subject in my walkabout lecture. I will post more here when I get more time. It maybe useful to some of you.


Please do!! What I tend to do is adopt the manchurian approach. I will say hello, compliment the group in some way, introduce myself then ask/offer to show them some magic. This normally works but I've recently got a residency at a restaurant. There are the obvious teething troubles but what I didn't expect were some people's reactions. I've had two tables simply say 'no' they don't want to see any magic. Then the usual inevitable idiot who wants you to fail and keeps trying deliberately to mess you up. I do believe that a lot of people are quite hostile to magicians, especially in a restaurant setting where perhaps they want to be left alone and weren't expecting a magic show. In any event I tend to blame myself if I can't get a table on board. I lnow there's a lot of knowledgeable magi out there so any more thoughts would be welcome!

K ;)

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby Anjorno » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:40 am

Lee Smith wrote:I spend a lot of time on this subject in my walkabout lecture. I will post more here when I get more time. It maybe useful to some of you.

I think your advice would be welcomed by alot of members. Thanks.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby Lee Smith » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:43 am

Here are the first few pages from my first set of lecture notes.

Some of this is related and some important info about getting started.


Introduction

In these notes I will outline and explain some of the least talked about, but most important aspects of performing. I hope everybody who reads them will get at least one useable thing from them as techniques that are in these notes can be applied to many facets of life as well as being vital to performing and particularly to magical performance. The best trick in the world can fall flat if not performed well and by the same token the simplest trick can ‘wow’ your audience if presented brilliantly.
I have been performing magic part-time for over 10 years and have been a full-time professional close-up performer for the last 6 years and by professional I mean I don’t do anything else. All my income comes from magic in one way or another, from tricks and props that I have come up with to lectures and lecture notes etc, but by far the majority is from performing. I have been able to establish myself in a relatively short time and become one of the busiest and in demand performers on the corporate circuit. I have performed at some of the most prestigious events and for many celebrities and influential people. Much of the reason for my success is to do with presentational skills which have been learned over the years.
As any performer will tell you when entertainment is your job you learn quickly to do it well or you don’t eat, it’s as simple as that. I learned fairly early on that presentation is the key, and that doesn’t just mean presentation of the tricks. Personal presentation is more important than everything as, if the audience doesn’t like you then they are unlikely to be entertained, if they like you, you will get away with so much and they are far more likely to have a great time.
To me presentation is all, and in some circumstances the magic becomes almost incidental. In these lecture notes I will talk about presentation from way you dress and approach the audience to the final flourish as the trick ends. As I said before the end of the trick is not as important as the beginning as if you have set the groundwork with presentation your audience will already be on your side and want you to succeed.
I can guarantee that everything in the notes works as I use it all in the real world and these routines, with the right presentation, get me booked over and over again. Some of the effects may need more practice than others but there are also some self-workers for the lazy buggers amongst you.


It is difficult if not impossible to teach confidence, but confidence is the key to any performance and the key to confidence is preparation and backup. Everything I do in performance has a backup in case of mistake or mishap. The fear of getting it wrong haunts every magician when they start out but if you have a backup that you can immediately turn to, to cover yourself the fear of failure is diminished greatly. For instance who out there doesn’t use the classic force because it doesn‘t ‘hit’ enough? Try it, if it works great you know the card you can do anything, if it doesn’t ‘hit’ do the ambitious card, the spectator will be none the wiser. I do several effects that use psychological forces of cards if they don’t work I do something with the card they name rather than the one I wanted. The important thing in this situation is to just carry on and ‘bury’ the miss don’t draw attention or even mention the fact that you missed, spectators will never know.

Prepare Yourself - Know your Craft

It is very trite and clichéd to say but it is true, fail to prepare and be prepared to fail. When I say preparing yourself I am taking it for granted that you have practiced and learned the tricks you intend to perform, I hope you don’t need to be told that.
Firstly, what to wear, it is important to stand out, personally I think the magician should be the smartest person in the room. If the people you are entertaining look at you and, before you’ve even spoken to them, they decide that you’ve made the effort to be professional you will already be on a good footing with them. This is definitely true at corporate level but within reason should be applied to any close up job. Obviously there are different ways of standing out children’s entertainers will wear colourful clothes there are fancy waistcoats, ties and costumes but personally I go for the smart and sharp corporate suited look. I wear the waistcoat and have my sleeves rolled up. Unless you do any ‘sleeving’ with your magic I cannot tell you how important it is to roll up your sleeves it is not an exaggeration to say at least every other table or group I perform to says ‘and he’s even got his sleeves rolled up’. Just a little thing but it all adds to the aura you are trying to create.
Secondly it is a good idea to organise the tricks you do into ‘sets’, this means putting 3 or 4 tricks that flow together as a routine. This is an area of close up magic that gets neglected, anybody who does any stage based act will work on the order of the tricks and ‘routine’ them into a set the same should be done with close up. If you have your ‘sets’ organised you will automatically feel more relaxed when you approach a group to perform. Giving yourself confidence is the key the more you are organised the more confidence you will have. I can’t tell you which tricks to use as obviously we all have our favourites, what I can tell you is what works for me, why it works and how to structure the performance.
Thirdly don’t over load your pockets, getting your tricks into sets will help with this. It can be very off putting for spectators to watch the performer fumbling in their pockets for the next trick it becomes ’dead time’ which, as the name suggests, is lethal to any performance. If you always put the same tricks in the same pockets you will always know where they are. This will help you present a smooth flowing performance.



Getting There

‘Always arrive an hour early rather than a minute late.’
This, for me, is true of anything in life lateness to me is rudeness it shows you haven’t thought enough of whatever appointment you have to get there on time. Obviously circumstances can conspire against you on occasions but if you prepare well enough you should be on time 99% of the time. The other point to make is that is if you are late you will feel stressed and your performance will suffer. There is nothing worse than getting to an event late and having to rush about, try it, trust me, you won’t want to do it again. Anyway moving on…
When you arrive at the venue if the organiser or host is there let them know you are there. The next thing is to orientate yourself with the performance area. Walk around the room check out the number of tables etc. As you are doing this you will meet the staff that you will be working alongside. Make a point of talking to them and introducing yourself, even perform a few simple tricks for them, believe me they will look after you all night. You do not want to be seen waiting at the bar for a drink when you could be performing, if you have primed the bar staff or the waitresses they will not make you wait and will help you in any way they can. You may have a close up case or props and the staff will know where you can leave they so that they are easily accessible.
If the time seems right and you have some spare time try and find the event organiser or venue manager to talk about future events etc. Be careful if you do this before an event as the organiser an have a lot on their mind if so ask to have a chat at the end. Networking in this way can be a lucrative source of work



Approaching The Public

When you approach a group of people cold they way you introduce yourself is vital. You must be genial and confident without being arrogant, make eye contact with all of the group. It is vitally important that you remember you are there to entertain and not just fool a load of strangers. It’s been said in lectures before but I’ll say it again because it is so important. Do not perform your tricks and then act like ‘aren’t I clever’ this will just make your audience feel stupid and nobody likes that. You want them to wonder (how it’s done), you even want them almost begging to know how it’s done but you don’t want them to feel as though they are inadequate in some way. The line between wondering and feeling stupid can be a bit thin with magic sometimes so it is important to remember to practice not just the tricks but the performance as well.
When you approach your chosen group you have a very short time to set the tone. It has been said that people will make a judgement on meeting a new person in 15 seconds and in virtually every instance they will stick to that judgement right or wrong. So in effect as Eugene Berger pointed out ‘the first effect is you’. When introducing yourself know what you are going to say before you walk up to your target. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or clever it just has to said with confidence. A simple ‘Hello my name is ….., I’m the magician this evening’. Say it with a smile remember laughter is infectious


First Tricks

The first trick/tricks you perform are important, they should be short and snappy but strong enough to grab the audience. More often than not a group that is approached cold is sceptical, if you don’t win them over quickly you will be fighting an uphill battle throughout the performance. If you’ve seen my lecture you will know the three tricks that I open my act with, I use the tricks in this section to open any close-up performance whether in a professional or social setting. I am now going to go into these tricks in detail and explain why they are so effective in starting a performance.
Over the years I have tried many different openings but I have learned that simple is best, there are a couple of reasons for this. The first and most important is that it takes the pressure off you as the performer. It is a nerve- wracking experience to walk up cold to a group, introduce yourself and then try to entertain them. The easier the trick, the less pressure, the more relaxed you will be, the more relaxed the audience will be it’s a simple progression






Lee.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby SpareJoker » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:08 am

Excellent stuff. Thanks Lee.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby Lee Smith » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:16 am

I hope there was some useful info there? I have a lot more to add as this is a couple of years old now.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby kevmundo » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:49 pm

Lee Smith wrote:I hope there was some useful info there? I have a lot more to add as this is a couple of years old now.


Fantastic post. Very useful!! I was wondering if you have any thoughts on handing out business cards? Do you have a set routine where you can hand them out??

K :)

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby Jing » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:44 pm

Yeh, that's useful. Thanks Lee, and the others who have taken time to reply too.

In terms of effects, I'll stick with what I've got for now, but might work out a handling for my ACR that cleans up some of the moves. At the moment I hand out the cards to be mixed by the spectator but sometimes that slows it down a bit. I'm also thinking about some sort of 'catch all' opener that works for close up and stand up. I have an idea for that, but it still needs a little scripting.

I'll also take a look at how I can improve what I'm saying, and my overall manner and how I want to come across to people. As Lee said, the tricks bit comes second if you can get the first impressions bit right.

As a side note, someone mentioned the Fire Wallet. I reckon it's only a matter of time before someone drops their fire wallet and then admits either they're not insured or that they're not insured for fire. Someone might want to correct me, but I believe the standard Equity insurance (which many people use) covers flash paper, but I don't think it covers fire wallets.

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby soveda » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:26 pm

Lee you are a gentleman and scholar to share that with us.
Cheers!

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby sammy_789 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:58 pm

i guess others would of said this before me, and people will say the same after me im sure. BUT in my close up walkaround, i spend a good 5 mins at each group getting to know them, letting them know who i am, i tend to make a self depracating comment as it often disarms them. i then after all this then i start

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby Jing » Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:26 pm

Introduce yourself as a magician, and then spend 5 minutes without showing them any magic? Really?

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Re: Opening to a group.

Postby sammy_789 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:15 pm

yer try it! it humanises you. Makes them like you. Understand you. So your not just some show off with a passion for printed cardboard. :P
Ive opened like this for years and it works for me...

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