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Magicians: How to Win Audiences and Customers & Influence People

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Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936 which has sold many millions of copies over the years.  Someone had suggested I read it and I am glad that I did.  I suggest it as required reading for everyone regardless of what endeavors you are engaged in.  However, I can see some strong benefits of the book when applied to magicians who want to be successful in their profession.

At the beginning of the book, Cargenie discussed a study which revealed that only 15 percent of one's financial success is based on their technical knowledge and ability. The other 85 percent was due to skill in human engineering and the ability to lead people. While the example in the book was around the engineering field, it would not appear unreasonable to expand this into the world of entertainment.

It is necessary to have a competent level of skill and knowledge to be a successful magician, and practicing the craft to a professional level is of course a must. However, focusing just on the technical aspects of magic without thinking about the human factors is a mistake.  I have seen excellent technical skills fall flat in front of an audience while other simple tricks having engaged audiences or laughing in hysterics.

Carnegie's book has many great nuggets but the one section that particularly applies to magicians and really people in any business, is how to be likable.  People want to work with and hire people that they like.  The first way that Carnegie covers is to show a genuine interest in other people. He goes on to explain a meeting he had with master magician Howard Thurston.

Thurston's success was not based on schooling as he ran away from home at a young age and spent his early years begging for food to live.  Thurston had also explained to Carnegie, that it was not his superior knowledge of magic that led to his success. He explained that hundreds of books had been written on magic and many knew as much about magic as he did.

Thurston went on to explain the secrets of his success. He let his personality come through in his performances and he showed a genuine interest in people. Thurston said that many magicians think of audiences in this way: "Well, there is a bunch of suckers out there, a bunch of hicks; I'll fool them all right."  His approach was totally different, he would say to himself: "I am grateful because these people these people come to see me. They make it possible to for me to make my living in a very agreeable way. I'm going to give them the very best I possibly can."  Thurston said that he would never step in front of an audience before saying "I love my audience, I love my audience." Challenge yourself on how you can let this genuine interest in your audience and customers come through in your performances and interactions.

Another key element discussed by Carnegie is the power of the smile.  Carnegie writes that a smile says "I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you."  Think about this in your performances and your face-to-face interactions with customers and prospects.  Carnegie warns of the "insincere grin" which fools nobody. The smile must come from within you and project outwardly.

The power of listening is also discussed in the book and I am sure everyone has heard of how we should listen more.  In addition to listening, Carnegie explains that one should also encourage others to talk about themselves.  This may be difficult to accomplish in depth during your actual performance but can certainly apply to talking to customers and prospects.  

Ask questions about the type of show they are expecting and ask questions about the event, the special guests, and other details of event. Don't follow your booking form from one question to the other mechanically, but rather ask another question based on something they have told you. Show a genuine interest in their event and your part of making that special. Find out what concerns they have.  Use your questions and listening skills to show your genuine interest in them and their event.  Restrain yourself to come right back with your solutions to their specific problems and issues. Once you have asked your questions and listened attentively, then go on to explain what you can offer in terms of their own interests, which is another one of Carnegie's principles.

Hopefully, you will find some of these thoughts interesting and pick up a copy of this book.  The ideas and principles within, will be useful in all your endeavors. Quote this article on your site

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Our valuable member Matt Ruetz has been with us since Thursday, 08 May 2008.

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