How to turn your MISTAKES into SOLUTIONS, almost like magic!

Questions that always come up once someone discovers my magical background are, “Did you ever have a trick go wrong? What did you do about it?”

Magicians know a lot about making mistakes. We have to, because mistakes and magic do NOT go well together.

Think about it. The “art of magic’ is the only entertainment forum that is uniquely damaged by errors and mistakes. It simply is too specific a performance medium.

A dancer could miss a step and the routine would still work. A comedian’s timing could be off and yet the joke could still be funny. A skater can make an error and the routine still a crowd pleaser. A speaker can mess up a line and it’s still a great oration. A singer can even go off key and the song still a hit.

However, with a trick or illusion if you make a mistake – the magic simply stops – the magic does not happen! It’s the very nature of our business. The overall illusion is destroyed, or even worse the secret revealed. Talk about pressure!! It may sound harsh but it is true. So in order to help limit the amount of drastic mistakes made, we have developed the magician’s performance rule #2.

The rule is simply this, “We know the game plan – the audience does not. We know what is supposed to occur and when, but we never reveal this until after it has been successfully achieved.” 

Thus if something starts to go wrong there is a strong chance we can detect it long before it becomes visible to the audience and make appropriate changes before the mistake becomes too apparent.

This is not to say that the overall effect does not look or feel slightly off. The end result is that the actual illusion is not blown and we usually can get back in sync with the rest of the performance. And most importantly, the audience forgets about what did not happen. In some cases the changes may even seem like brainstorms and actually work out for the better.

This is what has been called by the entertainment industry as “adlibbing” or “punting”; and contrary to what it may initially sound like, it is actually a carefully thought out and studied process. It has to be our very survival depends upon it!

Now wouldn’t it be beneficial if YOU HAD A TRICK like this that you could use when something starts to go wrong? Believe it or not most of you already do, you just may not be applying it the same way a magician does, day in and day out – one performance after another.

So how does one develop this knack, apply it to their vocation and get good at it? It’s simply a matter of analyzing what YOU do as a show or a performance model.

Start by getting a clear picture of what you want to have happen, and then work backwards to achieve it. Study all the elements that have to go together and how, and then REALLY look at what might or could go wrong in the process. Then simply develop “outs” that you can effectively use at any given point to help alleviate any mistakes.

These “outs” are carefully chosen bits and little modules that are relevant to what you do. They have been developed to the point that you can go to these at a moments notice.

This way you can relax and go on auto pilot if need be. You continue to present while your mind simultaneously searches for the answer to put you back on track. And best of all, when carefully applied, your audience never knows what happened.

The same applies for a sales, marketing or presentation situation whether to a group or one on one. Carefully plan in advance what you want to have happen, and then develop your own “ad lib’s” or “outs”. Really know your three most important presentation aspects – the close – the opening – what builds in the middle, and then develop these interconnected lifesavers.

Now obviously no one is ever going to be able to plan in advance for all contingencies; but the better prepared you are the greater the chance you won’t need to use them.

It starts with knowing your material inside out and really taking the time to develop a performance module (regardless of whether you think of your presentation is a show or not) that you want to have happen.

Great entertainers, speakers, executives, meeting planners, educators, politicians and service people do this all the time. They have their presentations planned well in advance and can move around within their structure to accommodate any changes that come up – AND still have these “ad lib’s” and “punts” in place when needed.

When you put enough of these contingencies into place and develop your performance module to this degree – you come off looking like a magician, or maybe the “super professional” you really are. You are prepared for almost any problems that may come up. You make problems go away! You can make magic happen!!

Remember Real Magic can happen only when people believe in themselves and are passionate about making a difference in their own lives and the lives of others! Have focus! Be passionate about what you do! Create your own real magic!!

PS: I have to go memorize my adlibs for tomorrow!