I joined a magic club 38 years ago and what I learned changed my public speaking approach forever.
I was fresh out of college and excited about a career in teaching. As a professional working in education, I thought I was good at public speaking. I soon quickly learned that I was fooling myself after I was exposed to several lessons in effective public speaking through observing over two hundred of the nation's top magicians. In short, the best and worst performers demonstrated the importance of being creative, having fun, and leaving the audience wanting more.
Here are three public speaking secrets of magicians guaranteed to amaze and captivate the audience the very next time you have to stand before one to speak:
BE CREATIVE. A good speech starts with a strong opening. The opening should grab attention and reveal your topic to the listeners. However, you are not presenting over the radio. You have an advantage over television. You are live, in color, and the audio and visual aids available are only limited by you.
Examine your topic. Think outside of the box. If you were an audience member what prop, music, articles of clothing, quotation, story, skit, humor, engagement, etc. would grab your attention? Now reverse your point of view. You are a magician. Would you dare surprise, shock or tease your audience? YES! BE BOLD! This is your moment to remind viewers to stay awake and focused on you.
A magician is a public speaker doing an illustrated show and tell talk. He or she tells arousing curiosity stories and setups to gain audience participation. In order for the tricks to work, the audience must pay close attention. A really good magician is never shy about wanting attention. So, dress like you want attention! Play introductory music that fits your topic. Ask the audience to repeat special words that support the points you will share. Give-away a small inexpensive keepsake items related to your topic. Explain why the lucky audience member and everyone in the room will benefit from your talk. Enthusiasm and engagement (active learning) works!
HAVE FUN. No matter what your topic is, share it from your personal experiences. You will be relaxed because the topic is connected to your favorite subject... YOU! Your humor becomes effortless and information becomes an exchange with new friends, supported by lots of fun. AVOID THE BORING LECTURE! I call this Taking Ownership of the Topic. Your personal stories and experiences intertwined with subject matter and enthusiasm will make your illustrated show and tell presentation—extremely interesting and FUN.
The message is the body of the speech. Your challenge is to deliver a talk worth hearing. I have seen magicians stay on stage too long. I love strawberry short cake, but enough is enough. The wise magician/public speaker leaves the audience wanting more. I suggest organizing your speech into three to four main points or sections of discussion. WHY? People can easily remember three to four things, for instance, The Three Musketeers, Three Stooges, four quarters in football, or four seasons. Even magicians present the classic Cups and Ball Trick with three cups and three balls. The trick is amazing due to simplicity. Sticking to three to four main points makes it possible for listeners to take your message home, recall it, and share it with others.
Invite audience participation. Ask questions and solicit a show of hands in response to each engaging query. Bring a volunteer on to the stage with you. Treat them positively well as you make a key point. Give the helper an inexpensive keepsake. Enthusiasm, kindness, and a little innocent bribery works! The audience will love you for being kind to their representative. Everyone vicariously experiences what the volunteer experiences as you drive home your point. Birthday Party Magicians know that every laugh, hand clap, group recitation of phrases, and show of hands increases the likelihood of an awesome show, coupled with future business.
LEAVE THE AUDIENCE WANTING MORE. The magic shows I enjoy most are amazing due to great public speaking and presentation skills. A tourist in New York City once asked someone, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The listener answered, “Practice, practice, practice!” Outline your speech. Jot key words and phrases on 3x5 index cards. Do not read your notes from the index cards! Learn, practice, and tell them in a show and tell manner. Use your index/note cards to stay on track; use them to guide your message. Practice until your timing fits the venue and you know you're bringing a public speaking show and tell experience to the audience that will be amazingly special, just for them.
People often remember their first and last impressions of your speech. This is why great magicians close with their best trick. Your challenge is to make the Closing of your speech as memorable as your opening. So, Think Purposefully and Creatively Outside the Box.
You could simply repeat your opening or build on it. Lead the group in a song that summarizes your topic. Recite a poem or quote that captures the spirit of the topic. Summarize your three to four main points slowly in a recap. Test audience members on what they retained from your speech with an out load in unison recall recap. What were the main points of the talk? Give inexpensive keepsake prizes for effort and correct answers. Have FUN! Leave the Audience Wanting More!
In the end, strive to always amaze and WOW your clients with quality service, and the audience with awesome public speaking skills, an exceptional 'engaging' presentation, and something worth taking home for positive recall and continual growth.
About the Author:
John Carrington has a Master of Science Degree in Adult Education from the University of Maryland. His 30 years of magic has earned him recognition from The International Brotherhood Of Magicians, Clowns Of America, and the Yogi Magic Club. He entertains full time in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC and West Virginia. John hosts a radio show and two television programs.
Click the following link to learn more about: John Carrington