My English Composition teacher once told me to write my sentences in the positive. Instead of saying, “The tree is not tall,” I should say, “The tree is short.”
Well, today, I’ll give you three tips on how to improve your performance. I’ll express those tips in the negative, in violation of what I learned from my English teacher.
Because I believe people remember prohibitions better than exhortations.
Look at most traffic signs. The person who wrote them must know something about psychology. Do Not Enter. No Left Turn. No Parking. They are all expressed in the negative, yet they read so authoritatively they are difficult to ignore.
In the same way, to make the following tips read with authority, I state them in the negative.
Follow them at your own risk.
Don’t make a lengthy introduction. People don’t care about how long you have been doing magic, or what awards you won. For that reason, don’t tell the audience your life story in the mistaken belief that you will regale them with your biography.
Come on stage and get down to business right away. Perform the first magic trick in the first 10 seconds and blow them away. If you are doing a talking act, then say something scintillating or funny in the first 10 seconds after you come on stage.
Don’t apologize for any shortcomings. Don’t tell the audience you were caught up in traffic to explain why you’re late. That you have not set up your props properly because you are pressed for time. That you are running a slight fever, that you have colds, that…
Stop! Don’t make excuses. Don’t tell the audience why you are about to fail. Just perform the magic. Making excuses is boring!
Don’t drop eye contact: Keep looking at people in the eyes. Don’t look down at your hands always. Doing so will only show the crown of your head, not your face, to the audience. Your hair, even if it’s done by the number one hair stylist in the Philippines, is not so nearly interesting as your face.
So look people in the eyes, engage their gaze, and keep their attention.
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