Talk to the Audience

We suggest that fairly early on in the show you should not perform any magic but 'stop' and speak to the audience. In most cases they will have paid good money to come and see you, and they want to like you, but they need to get to know you. What's the best way of doing that? Simply talking to them! So for a few moments, forget the effects, the illusions, the spectacle, just talk.

Speak slowly and clearly. Make sure they can hear you and they understand you, it's really important to build this rapport. Be natural, be yourself.

Make eye contact with individuals in the audience whenever you can. Scan from one person to the next around the auditorium, it will make the audience feel much more attracted to you as a performer and person.

Anecdotes, jokes (preferably topical) or brief stories are ideal to 'break the ice' and are another good way of enabling the audience to get to know you.

It's a very good idea early on to either talk to a single member of the audience near the front, or to get them involved in a trick, or both. The rest of the audience will be very curious about who you are talking to (they won't be able to see the person), and it's a great attention grabber.

We mentioned pitch, pace and power earlier. These qualities are extremely helpful in making an interesting presentation.

Pitch refers to the way your voice raises and lowers depending on the subject matter and your enthusiasm. Practice varying your pitch when you speak, but don't start yodelling. Have you a strong regional accent? If so, try to modulate it so that everyone can understand you! We're not being pedantic when we say that elocution lessons are a good idea if you have a strong accent.

Pace refers to the speed of your presentation, both physically and vocally. This should be varied for effect. Think of the tempo in a musical tune to get the idea, perhaps the difference between a relaxing classical piece, and a fast, thrash metal, bass thumping track. They are two extremes of pace.

In a magic show, a comic routine might benefit from a faster pace whereas a dangerous illusion could be better suited to a slow, deliberate, deeply spoken presentation.

Note that it is better to build up from a slower pace through an act rather than the other way around.

Lastly, power refers to the overall control of the voice. As a rule, you need to be assertive and in control, speaking with authority. Practice projecting your voice in normal day to day activities. Understand how it sounds to speak in a controlled manner, and experiment by changing the power of your voice to suit a particular effect.

All of these techniques are perhaps best exemplified by comedians, and you would certainly benefit by watching as many comedians as you can over the next few weeks to see for yourself the way these factors of timing, pitch, pace and power are used to superb effect.

If you took our previous tip to take acting classes, you would learn that actors don't shout. They merely talk to the person in the back row. It gives their voice a power and projection.

Magicians are normally notoriously bad at using a microphone. That's okay -so are DJ's. They tend to swallow the end of the microphone and their words are indistinct. Many magicians also tend to wander away from the microphone, forgetting it's there.

Microphones, amplifiers and speakers were never designed to replace the voice, they were designed to enhance and assist it. If you have to turn your head, you should turn your head so that you are always talking across the microphone and not into it.

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