As a speaker, one of the most fun, valuable and low-cost ways to stimulate your creativity is to attend a magic convention. There are probably a dozen good-sized national and regional conventions each year that would be worth checking out.
Here are some reasons to take a look at the art of magic:
1. Add magic to your presentations. But a word of caution. Forcing a magic trick into a presentation is as bad as squeezing in a joke that doesn’t fit, just to get a laugh. If you’re a speaker who delivers valuable content, add magic only if it enhances the program. Don’t add it solely because YOU love it. And most certainly don’t add it because you are trying to fill in for lack of substance in your content.
2. A great icebreaker. My personal preference is not to use magic to illustrate learning points while giving a speech, but to use it as a tool for warming up the audience and building rapport. I refer to magic as my Ed McMahon. Like Ed warmed up the audience for Johnny Carson before the show started, magic helps me to have fun with the audience and to build a relationship at the very start of my programs. Try adding a small touch of magic and see how it plays for you. Your experience as a speaker becoming a magician may be different from my experience as someone who was a magician before becoming a speaker. I’ve been a magician for 49 years and was raised in a family of magicians.
3. Magic is a bridge builder. Magic crosses language and cultural barriers. It’s a universal language. It’s a visual art that speaks it’s own language. It attracts attention, it’s remembered and it stimulates creative thinking. I attended an international magic convention in Japan thirty years ago. In spite of language differences, I watched magic grab the attention of the diverse audience.
4. Variety is spice. Like humor, juggling, singing, mime and dancing, magic offers another way to add variety to your programs.
5. Stimulate your creativity. At a magic convention, you’ll be exposed to different ways of thinking.
6. Stretch your humor skills. My experience, after attending magic conventions for several decades, is that magicians cross the line of good taste more often than a speaker should. Keep in mind that a magician’s role is probably closer to that of standup comic than it is to the role of the speaker. However, a lot of magician humor is very funny and creative. It may spark an idea that could be useful to your preparation and presentations.
7. Magic is a networking tool. Off the platform, you can use small magic tricks (referred to as closeup magic) to introduce yourself at mixers, on an airplane or other business and social settings. When done well, people will remember you. For example, there are ways to magically produce your business card. The result is that prospects will be more inclined to keep your card.
8. Bang for your buck. Although an alternative to conventions is to join a local magic club, in my opinion, the best value for your time and money is definitely the magic convention. You get magic overload crammed into three or four days. And magician conventions are inexpensive compared to most speaker conventions. One of the highlights of the magic convention is the Dealers Room (the exhibitors area of the convention). At a major national convention, you may have as many as 40 or 50 magic dealers setting up shop. You’ll want to spend a lot of time in the Dealers Room. It’s my favorite attraction at the conventions. If you have a convention in your hometown and can’t attend the whole thing, try to attend the Dealers Room. Sometimes they’re open to the public. Often they’re not open, but you can sometimes buy a one-day Dealers Room pass at the convention registration desk.
9. More convention highlights. In addition to the Dealers Room, other highlights of a magic convention are: Lectures on magic and performance psychology. Contests for both stage and closeup performers. A dealer show where the vendors show you their hot items. Usually the convention includes one major evening stage show each night. Normally 9am till midnight the schedule is packed with activity. And after midnight, you’ll find magicians in the lobby doing tricks until the early morning hours.
10. Big events. Two of the largest conventions are sponsored by the two main national (USA) magic associations, the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians.
11. Another alternative is to visit a local magic store. You’ll find it in the yellow pages under Magicians Supplies.
12. A top magician’s monthly is Magic Magazine. Highly recommended. Articles on performing psychology, tricks, convention announcements and reviews, and lots of great ads. http://www.MagicMagazine.com.
14. Add power to your next speech. You are the magician!
Copyright 2006 by John Kinde.
John Kinde is a humor specialist who has been in the training and speaking business for over 30 years specializing in teambuilding, customer service and stress management. Special reports available: Show Me The Funny — Tips for Adding Humor to Your Presentations and When They Don’t Laugh — What To Do When the Laughter Doesn’t Come. Humor Power Tips newsletter and articles are available at http://www.HumorPower.com