OPINION: Eye contact

OPINION: Eye contact
I was going to just write about the importance of eye contact in regard to misdirection but have realised it is a bigger topic.

We have all been told to wait until someone is looking up at you before doing a move, often this is facilitated by asking their name for example. The name trick does work, although the response can be slow if the performer has put a lot of attention and focus elsewhere (the cards, a box, their hands etc) and it is now the first time they want eye contact.

We can be more efficient by just using eye contact properly.

The approach/ introduction:
When meeting a new group, eye-contact immediately communicates honesty. This is important for a magician as when you approach a group, you are asking them to take a risk on you. You want them to cooperate and give up their time in exchange for something better. If they trust you, you will be met with greater enthusiasm.

Building a bond:
You really don’t want to be performing at people, but with people. Eye contact creates a bond and research has shown activates a mirror system. In a nutshell, if your eyes communicate joy that will fire the neurons in someone elses brain to also feel joy.
Sharing emotions is what creates a bond between people.

As with bonding, eye contact increases audience engagement. With a group you need to conscious of including everyone with your eyes, it also help bring someone in if they have been resistant or distracted.

Improving understanding:
Making eye contact increases the focus on what is being said and enables facial expressions to be read. This improves understanding which is helpful if you are giving your participant instructions or setting out the parameters of the trick.
If your audience doesn’t understand then you have confusion not magic, clarity is vital in creating strong magic.

If through regular eye contact you have built trust and likeability, then it is easier to use it for misdirection.
You participants will regularly look at your eyes when you look at them and they will follow your eyes where you want their attention.
This non-verbal misdirection or attention focus is what magicians should be aiming for as it doesn’t leave a memory of being distracted.

- Make eye contact before you open your mouth, people will be more receptive.
- Don’t stare intensely, a few seconds at a time is enough.
- Aim to be making eye-contact about 50% of the time.
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