The Performance

Now that you have the process for getting booked covered, what will you perform? As we said at the outset, there are many reasons for booking a magician for an exhibition or trade show event, and it could be that you on some occasions you need only perform a variation of your regular show.

Many times however, the client will want a customised performance, incorporating their product or service. Bear in mind that if that's what they want, there should be a corresponding increase in your fee to recognise the additional work involved. Fortunately, if you are asked to do this type of bespoke performance, you can look back and refer to the tips and ideas in the earlier lesson on school theme shows, as the two types of performance have a lot in common.

As mentioned, typically with an exhibition or corporate event, you will be provided with a product or two to incorporate into your presentation. Note that you don't necessarily have to use the product itself as part of a routine. Many times you can adapt an existing magic trick to incorporate the features and benefits of the product without using the product itself. Sometimes there will be no tangible product anyway, only a service, such as is commonly the case with a financial or banking institution.

As an example of the type of effect you could perform, let's suppose that you are working for a financial corporation. Ahead of time you need to find out from the company why they consider their service to be superior compared to the competition. What are the features and corresponding benefits of the product or service? Are there any special offers available to visitors attending the exhibition? Can they supply you with useful statistics, anecdotes or humorous stories related to the service?

Armed with all this information, it's time to put your thinking cap on and come up with some interesting ways of incorporating some of these points into a presentation.

If you have identified three or more features of the service you are promoting, you might use these in a linking rings routine, where each ring represents a feature. At the end of the routine, all the product features are shown to be bonded together to make an unbreakable and strong service, with corresponding benefits to the customer. You might also indicate that whilst

the competitors might have one or two of these features, it is only this company that brings them all together to create the best service in the industry. You get the idea.

A crystal casket type of effect could be used to graphically demonstrate to an audience of product resellers how a special sales promotion of a product or service could leave them with a handsome bonus at the end of the offer period. You could use slips of paper to represent sales, putting them into the casket one by one, and then instantly vanish the slips of paper to make the casket full of money!

For some audience participation, you might vanish a spectator's signed bank note and make it reappear inside a 'factory sealed' sample bottle of the company's product.

The classic professor's nightmare routine is another excellent trick that can be adapted to fit many situations. For example, you might liken each piece of rope to an important aspect of business like customer service, quality and reputation. Explain how most companies fall down on at least one of these. Maybe they are strong on the quality of the product and have a good reputation, but their customer service is lacking (show the short rope). Then go on to say that the company you work for has seen the need for all three ingredients to be in place in equal measure (show the ropes the same length).

Using super-gel or slush powder, you can illustrate a simple message. With some powder already in a cup, pour some water from a jug into the cup saying something like, "Do you find that you are constantly putting a lot of effort into your work, like this water you keep on adding more effort and what happens?" Turning the cup over dramatically, you say, "You get no return for your effort? Nothing!" Of course, unknown to the audience, the slush powder has solidified the liquid to prevent it falling out.

You might then link into another product as the 'solution'. "With our product, your efforts will not be wasted, you'll be overflowing with results!"

Card tricks, although sometimes over used or used badly, do have some interesting advantages when used in the exhibition and trade show market. A deck of cards has 52 cards, which can tie in well with the 52 weeks of the year in your patter. A deck of cards is also an item that is widely known. Regardless of country, language or culture, playing cards are to be found all over the world, so they are a useful item to gain common ground with an audience.

In choosing suitable effects to use for this market, it is a good idea to have several options available at all times, in other words be prepared to have routines that can be easily adapted to suit the customers product or service. You should script these so that you literally only have to replace the product and company names in the right places.

Whatever you decide to perform, your own belief in the service or product is of key importance is. After all, how can you expect an audience to get excited about something that you are not yourself? If you find yourself initially not interested in what you have been asked to promote, you need to do more research until you are interested. This is absolutely crucial.

Enthusiasm is contagious, and an audience can sense when you are not completely convinced of the merits of what you are promoting.

A word of caution. It goes without saying really, but in your eagerness to please the client, you might be tempted to make claims about the product or service that you know not to be true. Don't do it!

Honestly, it's just not worth it, because someone will pick up on it, and it's not acceptable to plead ignorance. You are a professional, and your performance should give no cause for complaint.

Of course, balance is needed. For example, many companies take friendly swipes at their competitors - often in a humorous way, and as long as you get

approval beforehand there is no reason why you shouldn't do the same if you feel it will enhance your message.

As a general guideline in selecting and adapting material, ensure that whatever you do is straightforward, easy to understand and follow. It's not the place for long, drawn out or complicated tricks because you will lose the audience in no time. As a rule of thumb, the spectators should be able to tell someone else what you did in just one or two sentences. For example,

" should have seen this guy, he vanished a signed coin and then made it reappear inside a sealed bottle of beer."

Don't fall into the trap of performing tricks that you like, but that have no relevance to the company's product. Each effect should grab the attention of the audience straight away, and hold it until the conclusion of your performance. Remember, people will be passing by the stand or booth continuously so you want to try and attract these people too, even if you are mid way through performing an effect.

At some point in your show, you will obviously be doing a mini sales pitch about the product or service. The secret to success here is to blur the line between the magic part and the sales part. If the two are integrated seamlessly you will win a lot more interest.

How can you do this?

One way is by not stopping at the end of the trick! If you start to clear away your props and give a signal to the audience that the magic is over, many of the audience will walk away and move on. On the other hand, if your performance is well thought out and seamless, the sales part will naturally follow on, their will be no discernible 'divide.'

Handing out a business card in a magical way is always appreciated

When you really have finished however, tell the audience clearly, and announce when your next show will be. That way, any people passing by will hear that another show is about to start.

Incidentally, what is the right duration for a show in this market? Experience shows that twelve minutes should be your maximum. Obviously, a lot depends on the product, service, and nature of your presentation, but you have to remember that trade shows and exhibitions usually contain hundreds of stands, sometimes spread across many rooms or halls, and the visitors have not come just to see you perform! The average time spent at any single stand probably amounts to just a few minutes at the most.

Although your show is limited in duration to about ten minutes then, you need to perform this show over and over throughout the day. Why is this necessary? Think about it. Visitors usually only pass through a location once, so if you miss them because you are not performing, you don't get a second chance, and the people you miss are just as likely to buy from the company as anyone else. Can you see why it is crucial to keep presenting throughout the day?

Obviously, you will need a break occasionally, but you really should try and schedule your breaks in relation to the lull periods of the event. Find out by asking beforehand when the quiet times are, and plan to have your breaks in those times.

Although it may seem a bit pedantic to state these points, ultimately your overall performance on the day will mean the difference between being hired over and over again, or never being used again. Repeat business is the best type to get because you don't have to spend any more money getting it, you are already familiar with the client, and you will have done the initial preparation work for the show. It is well worth putting in the effort to make your service so invaluable to the client that they would be foolish not to use you again.

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