“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
I wish I could just leave this blog post there.
As a magician, I often get bogged down with questions such as:
“What brand/colour/size of cards should I be using?”
“Should I use a big or little coin for this?”
“Which overhand shuffle technique is the best to retain the top stock in the context of this trick?”
I ask a lot of questions. A LOT. And it took some time before I came to the conclusion that most of them didn’t matter.
When I work at a corporate event, nobody really cares if my cards are blue or red. They don’t care what the brand is, or if they are Poker or Bridge size.
If I’m at a wedding and I vanish a borrowed coin, no one cares if I can do it with a bigger or smaller coin.
I’ve spent years developing sleight of hand techniques that could bear close scrutiny when stared at by unblinking spectators, only to realise that, if my audience liked me, and I told a good joke, their laughter was more than enough misdirection to cover any nefarious activity I needed to do.
A good time IS great misdirection!
It didn’t matter what tricks, or even what variants of tricks I was doing; they just wanted to have some fun.
This was highlighted to me recently when I had a call from someone who booked me for their wedding after seeing a magician at her staff party. When I asked why she didn’t book the magician she had seen, she said that, although he was technically very good and “all his tricks worked”, he never looked up from his hands and didn’t smile once. He didn’t make them feel anything positive or good. (by the way, this story is entirely true, even if it does sound just a bit too convenient!).
When someone books a magician for their staff party or birthday, it’s very likely that they are just looking for something…anything…that will give their guests a good time. It doesn’t have to be a magician; it could be a caricaturist, a look a like, or a disco; it doesn’t matter. They want their guests to go home thinking that they had an awesome time.
And though I shouldn’t really say this, there are many different types of people, aside from magicians, that can give your guests an awesome time!
So, now the focus is not about how many tricks, or what types of tricks I should do, but what can I do to make these guys have any awesome night?
But it also goes further than just magic…
What can I do to make my kids feel empowered?
What can I do to make my wife feel appreciated?
How can I get along with my next door neighbour, Mr Grumpypants?
It’s no longer about a tick list of jobs to be done. It’s about discovering the best way to make the person experience what I want them to experience.
Most of the time when approaching a group at an event, I’ll talk to them first, before I do any magic, just to get a feel for them. I want to let them know that I’m not going to take myself too seriously, I want some interaction from them and that I’m here to give them a good time. I’m not here for me, I’m here for THEM (for the next ten minutes or so anyway!).
Often, just shifting your focus from you to them is often enough for them to notice and improve their experience and while you will never be able to please everybody all of the time, I’d like to think that people appreciate the thought and effort you clearly put in to focussing on them and their needs and experience, rather than you own “things I need to do” list.
There’s another upside too; when you shift your mindset from thinking about the practical aspects of what you need to do, to thinking about what you want the person to feel and experience, you open yourself up to some more exciting and creative possibilities!
There are so many ways to make someone you care about feel awesome!