Better Living Through Card Tricks

Atlanta Magician – Mentalist – Speaker Joe M. Turner | News and Comments from the Chief Impossibility Officer

Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

Turner Magic Named Best of Atlanta 2012 in Corporate Entertainment

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on October 10, 2012

Turner Magic Entertainment named Best of Atlanta 2012 for Corporate Entertainment.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Turner Magic Entertainment Receives 2012 Best of Atlanta Award

Atlanta Award Program Honors the Achievement

ATLANTA October 10, 2012 — Turner Magic Entertainment has been selected for the 2012 Best of Atlanta Award in the Corporate Entertainment category by the Atlanta Award Program.

Each year, the Atlanta Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Atlanta area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2012 Atlanta Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Atlanta Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Atlanta Award Program

The Atlanta Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Atlanta area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Atlanta Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Atlanta Award Program

CONTACT:
Atlanta Award Program
Email: PublicRelations@awardprogram.org
URL: http://www.awardprogram.org

###

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What is Mentalism?

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on February 23, 2012

My clients know that I perform a variety of illusions in different genres, depending on the specific needs and character of their event. Many of them have encountered the term “mentalism” in conversations with me, or they’ve heard it from others, or they’ve seen the popular show The Mentalist on CBS. Many people still approach me with the question: just what is mentalism, anyway?

Theatrical poster for a mind-reading performance, 1900

Theatrical poster for a mind-reading performance, 1900 (via Wikipedia)

Mentalism, simply put, is the branch of illusion arts that deals with psychological experiences more than visual ones, though there is sometimes some overlap. Mentalists present their audiences with experiences that seem like mind-reading, mental influence, predictions of future events, and occasionally the ability to move or affect physical objects with the power of the mind.

Modern mentalism has roots in ancient times, where soothsayers and mediums performed acts that would be related to some kinds of mentalism today. In the 1800s, psychic entertainers became popular and some of the feats they performed would still be part of any mentalism performance today.

Some mentalists strongly resist any comparison to magicians, preferring to think of the art as an entirely separate one with no pretended “supernatural” elements. Given that some mentalists have overtly made claims of “supernatural gifts” as the source of their abilities, that distinction holds little sway. Another common approach to performing mentalism today is to offer it in the context of using highly developed observational skills and an ability to read body language as the theatrical premise for the performance. This premise is, however, sometimes largely an illusion in its own right. It is generally a contrivance intended to persuade audiences that what they are experiencing is less a theatrical experience and more an actual ability to perceive people’s specific thoughts. While this claim is not supernatural in nature, in my view it is only slightly less dishonest.

My personal approach to mentalism is to recognize it for what it really is: a truly mystifying branch of the illusion arts focused on experiences of the mind. Just as a skilled sleight-of-hand artist can make a coin appear to melt into nothingness, a skilled mentalist can seem to make a thought appear in your mind. The first illusion is visual; the second is psychological. They rely on some techniques that are similar, and some which are different. Likewise, the performer who makes a tiger appear on a stage relies on some techniques that are similar, and some which are different. All of the experiences are illusions to an audience.

It can be fun to leave the line between reality and performance a little blurry for an audience. When that blurred line becomes a means by which someone attempts to sell products or services through the perception that the theatrical premise represents legitimate expertise on the part of the performer, then another line is also being blurred: the line between honest performer and scam artist.

Interestingly, when the television show The Mentalist premiered, the Atlanta CBS affiliate contacted me about coming on the news for a feature on “Atlanta’s Real Life Mentalist.” In that segment they profiled me and my work as a speaker and mentalist. The interview itself is linked just below the image. Enjoy!

Atlanta's Real-Life Mentalist | Joe M. Turner

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Turner Magic and Keynotes Receives Best of Atlanta 2011 Award

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on January 25, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Turner Magic and Keynotes Receives 2011 Best of Atlanta Award

Best of Atlanta 2011

Turner Magic & Keynotes Received the 2011 Best of Atlanta Award from USCA

NEW YORK, NY, October 21, 2011 — Turner Magic & Keynotes has been selected for the 2011 Best of Atlanta Award in the Party Planning & Event Consultants category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2011 USCA Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a New York City based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association

CONTACT:
U.S. Commerce Association
Email: PublicRelations@uscaaward.com
URL: http://www.uscaaward.com

###

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Branding, Buzz, and Team Communication

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on November 5, 2010

How Magic Works In Corporate Settings
Part Five: Branding, Buzz, and Team Communication

One of my recent clients brought an interesting magic communication project for me to address with Message-Driven Entertainment: a launch of a new brand, but with an important twist.

Atlanta magician, mentalist and speaker Joe M. Turner delivers a magic-infused brand launch presentation.

Now I’ve been part of other promotional events and launch events before, but they were usually targeted to clients and/or consumers. Advertising and marketing campaigns, trade show exhibits – this is standard fare for the magic-enhanced edutainment presenter.

This client’s event, however, was targeted to an internal audience of employees, including developers, sales reps, marketing folks, and others.  The new brand identity – specifically, new logos and a new tagline – was being rolled out and these people would be the first to see the final results.

Internal and External Audiences

In a standard launch for consumers, there are some obvious advantages (as well as some risks, which Gap recently learned).  First, the external consumer audience is often a clean slate.  They have no idea that a new launch is coming, and largely have no skin in the game with regard to one design over another.  Furthermore, they are probably unaware of the leadership dynamics within the company, or any competing factions.  In the absence of a truly loved brand – and let’s face it, most brands are not truly loved – the details of the process behind the change are usually trivial to all but the most dedicated fans.  You can sell the new brand (the product) on its merits.

In an internal launch, much of that goes out the window.  Employees are not a clean slate – they know what happened, where, to whom, when, how hard, and for what reason.  They have relationships with other employees and leaders up and down the org chart, and if there are tensions, they know about it.  Everyone knows all the marketing messages, but they also know if there are any caveats or “yes, but” qualifiers behind those messages.  In this case, you still have to sell the new brand on its merits – but you also have to achieve some buy-in for the change.

Selling the Process

My approach for this event was to sell not just the product, but the process.  This client had taken the smart route, with numerous surveys and checkpoints with employees, customers, and other external sources.  This process had been fairly lengthy, though, spanning many months.  Employees had not all been privy to drafts along the way; they would be seeing the final result a long time after their contribution to the process had taken place.

In addition to simply unveiling the new look, I knew it was important to reemphasize for the employees that they had been a key part of the process, and even if the new look wasn’t precisely their cup of tea, they needed to be reassured that the end result had been reached with their contributions as an important component.

The opening of my program was a review of the process, reminding the audience from the very beginning that they had been part of the process.  This part of the program included terms like “How many of you remember…” and “As you recall…” and “Way back in April.”  The process was explained until all the pieces of the process visually and magically melded into a large print of the new brand.  It was not a sermon, just a quick reminder of the process.

Atlanta magician and mentalist Joe M. Turner at a branding event

Atlanta magician and mentalist Joe M. Turner uses an interactive illusion to emphasize a critical point at a recent branding launch in Atlanta.

Where To Now?

Once the new look was out in front of everyone, the rest of the program focused on helping everyone understand what the messages behind the logo were, as related to key benefits to the different customer groups.

I used customized visual and psychological illusions to reinforce the specific benefits that the client’s marketing team wanted to emphasize.  In the case of this product, those key benefits were saving time, saving money, and saving hassles by using a tool designed to facilitate regulatory compliance.

  • In the case of saving time, I presented a magical effect developed by Alex Elmsley that concludes with a “traveling back in time” moment.  By saving customers time, we are metaphorically giving them the ability to “go back  in time” and reclaim what would have been additional minutes spent on each transaction.

  • To emphasize saving money, I turned to a classic comedy routine in which a borrowed hundred dollar bill is burned and eventually restored.  Messages to customers: don’t burn your money on inferior products, time saved is money saved, and our product’s streamlined efficiency is reflected in our new brand.

  • Finally, the complexities of regulatory compliance were represented as a snare that entangles people and organizations, often simply by accident, due to the complexities and details of the law and regulations surrounding their industry. The client’s product enables customers to complete all the processes and stay compliant.  To illustrate, my wrists were bound with rope by two of the team members, and I escaped from the bonds with a comic flair.

The end result? The client had an engaged, attentive team who not only understood their contributions to the new brand, but who were fully equipped to discuss the key benefits with their customers. That’s a great place to be, but the bonus is that we all had a great time getting there.

Here’s how my clients put it:

“We are so lucky that we found Joe Turner! We wanted to give a creative twist to the re-launch of our new brand identity for our employees and we got so much more! Joe worked with us and did his homework to help us communicate our new brand and key messages in a very creative and memorable way. The employees loved it and will remember this event for a long time. We will definitely look for ways to work with Joe again.”
— Director of Marketing

“Joe is perfect for corporate events! Entertaining, smart, creative; all those things for sure. But most of all, we loved how adaptable and creative Joe was in tailoring his ‘show’ to fit with our marketing message! Excellent fit. We’ve had other ideas on how to use his talents and hope to do so in the future.”
— Senior VP and General Manager

Message-Driven Entertainment

The underlying point of the story is this: professional entertainment can enhance messaging, but it has to be handled skillfully. It requires more than just a cool talent or stage presence — it also takes someone who has been there and “gets it.” When choosing someone to integrate messaging and entertainment, you want someone with real-world talent and experience in both arenas. It’s a unique skill-set, but if you’re reading this blog, you’re connected to the right resource.

I treat your message with the same respect that you do. It is not trivialized, boiler-plated, or caricatured. When you select me to work with you on a marketing or branding event, I supply the showbiz talent and even change management expertise, but your message is the real star of the show.

Let’s work together to make your trade show, product launch, brand introduction, or other message-driven event a spectacular success!

Posted in Publication | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The High Price of Cheap Entertainment

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on October 4, 2010

How Magic Works In Corporate Settings
Part Four: The High Price of Cheap Entertainment

Iceberg Dead Ahead!

Don't Sink Your Event! Just when you think you've dodged the budget iceberg by skimping on the entertainment or speaking budget, you discover the immense hidden costs lurking beneath the surface.

Even in a great economy, event planners and producers are right to be cost-conscious. Experienced planners, though, know that there are always significant hidden costs and risks associated with putting low-fee, bargain-basement entertainers or speakers in front of their audience. It destroys the event’s effectiveness. It embarrasses the audience. It undermines the organization’s credibility. Sometimes it can even cost the planner his or her job.

In the last decade I have helped numerous planners overcome “last year’s disaster” – cheesy, amateurish, or foul-mouthed ‘bargains’ that ultimately cost them much more than they thought they had saved. People who know that value considerations are at least as important as price concerns make great clients, but I always wish they could have avoided the painful lesson that got them there. Unfortunately, it took a bad experience — followed by a great experience with me! — for these good folks to learn what savvy consumers have known from time immemorial:

You get what you pay for.

Especially during tough times, I get calls for events where it is clear that the planner is dialing through a list of phone numbers looking for any breathing human who will stand on a stage in return for whatever budget remains after paying for the room, decor, and food… that is to say, for nearly nothing. In their quest to save money, these inexperienced planners are basing the single most focused and memorable part of the evening on ‘whomever we can find for what we have left.’

Your group will be talking to each other and interacting while having cocktails and dinner, but their full attention will be focused on the after-dinner performer for the better part of an hour. From the time the show starts until it ends, the quality of that performance doesn’t just affect the quality of the event – it is the quality of the event. That experience is what the audience really takes with them as their memory of the event – not the floral arrangement, gift bag, or logo-embossed desk accessory. Good or bad, that performance is going to be discussed more than any other element of the event.

  • If the food is mediocre and the entertainment is great, people will remember the entertainment.
  • If the decor is mediocre and the entertainment is great, people will remember the entertainment.
  • If the food is great, the decor is beautiful, the venue is breathtaking, and the entertainment is bad… people will remember the entertainment.

No matter what else happens, people remember the entertainment because that is what holds their attention for the most time and with the most focus and intensity.

I recently got a call from an association that was planning an annual gala in a beautiful, trendy hotel in Atlanta. This was a small group of only a few hundred people, but they were business professionals from around the region, celebrating an important annual event with a nice dinner. They also wanted a professional after-dinner show, but the fee they proposed as an entertainment budget was literally about one-tenth of a reasonable starting price for that service.

Many performers and speakers would have quickly ended the conversation and moved on. I took a different approach, though, because I want this group to have a successful event whether I’m there or not.

Here’s what I shared with them:

As much as I’d love to get your organization’s business immediately, I’m more interested in helping you have a successful event. That way, I’ll have earned your trust, and you’ll know that I’ll be honest and professional with you when you call me in the future and you have a realistic budget to work with.

So here’s what you need to know to have a successful gala event this year: Do not proceed with this plan. The nature of the venue you have chosen demands more than the lowest-common-denominator. If $X is your budget, you should not hire an entertainer this year. Get extra drinks, or decor, or music. Show a fun video montage of people in your organization. But do not use that money to hire an entertainer. Any performer you could get for that fee is not a performer you want to put in front of an audience of professional adults at an annual gala, especially in such a nice venue. That substandard performance will only cloud your interest in having a true professional at a future event when you could have afforded it.

I have no doubt that you can use a phone book or a search engine to find someone who will do this for you at that fee. When you find that person, run as fast as you can in the other direction. You will have found an inexperienced, sub-par performer who is desperate to put the words ‘corporate events’ on his or her web site or résumé. This is not what you want for your audience. Better to save the money than hire anyone for that amount.

Money down the drain

'Bargain' entertainers and speakers for corporate events are money down the drain.

For professional audiences and events, cheap entertainment is an expensive, high-stakes wager on a losing proposition. The hidden costs – reduced effectiveness, diminished credibility, and lasting negative impact – far outweigh the tantalizing prospect of getting an imagined bargain on a speaker or entertainer.

There are creative ways to achieve professional results on a wide range of budgets, and I love working with my clients to find those solutions. But you can always trust me to tell you where the real opportunities and the real limits are, and to be honest about what will work best for your event and your audience.

Bottom line – the success of your meeting, conference, or gala is as important to me as it is to you. I look forward to working with you, whether as a speaker or an entertainer, to create a successful event.

Posted in Publication | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Planning for After-Dinner Entertainment: Visibility Matters

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on September 15, 2010

How Magic Works In Corporate Settings
Part Three: Convention Dinners and Galas – Visibility

One special evening of a conference or convention – often the final evening – is typically built around a gala banquet event and some kind of after-dinner entertainment.  Presenting a solidly entertaining show for these audiences is a core competency for my profession.

As you might imagine, I’ve found myself in a variety of venues and performing situations along the way.  Like every meeting and event planner, I’ve also had to deal with last moment challenges and changes.  Technical problems, lost luggage, travel issues… you probably have your own list of horror stories.  Part of being a professional is being prepared to deal with those curve balls.  Whether the audience is fifty people or fifteen hundred or more, I’ve got to be ready to create a successful experience for the audience, no matter what.

That said, there are a number of points on which meeting and event planners can work with performers up front to make sure that known pitfalls are avoided, creating the best possible environment for a successful event.

One major pitfall is the issue of visibility.  The audience must be able to see the performance.  This is an obvious point, but in the planning of a large event, this singularly important component of the experience can be inadvertently weakened by seemingly unrelated choices.

In this article, I’ll share some concepts on the importance of visibility, plus some personal “lessons learned” that meeting and event planners can keep in mind to enhance the success of after-dinner entertainment for their galas and banquets.  Even if you’re working with entertainment of a non-magical nature, it’s worthwhile to do at least a mental run-through of your event plan with these concepts in mind.

A large centerpiece, while dramatic, can obstruct the view of everything else in the room.

A large centerpiece, while dramatic, can obstruct the view of everything else in the room.

Obstructions

Consider those tall, elegant centerpieces on the tables.  Bold, artistic centerpieces can set a dramatic tone in a banquet room, but they can also hinder conversation at the tables.  If there is an after-dinner performer or speaker on the bill, consider a smaller piece.  Alternatively, you can arrange with the host or banquet captain to have the centerpieces moved to another location before the performer begins.  You might move them to tables along the outside walls of the room, or use them to create another decorative element in the room such as a bordered walkway to a photographer’s corner or the exit.

Besides centerpieces, are there balloons, lighting trees, extra microphone stands, an unneeded speaker’s podium, tray jacks, or other extraneous items obstructing or cluttering the audience’s view of the platform?

Lighting

In addition to possible physical obstructions, lighting is crucial to visibility.  Discuss the options with your performer.  I work in a variety of environments, either using the venue’s existing lighting, or working with the production company if the event is using theatrical lighting.  When budget is a concern, an act who can work effectively with a venue’s existing lighting is a smart choice.  When producing a large event, though, there’s no substitute for professionally produced lighting.

Platform or Stage

It’s a given that a raised platform or stage not only improves visibility, but also enhances the production value and theatrical impact of an event.  That said, if your event has fewer than 100 people, you can often produce a successful event without a raised platform or stage.  With enough space between tables, everyone can see a properly positioned speaker.  Consider a corner of the room for the stage area; this can sometimes allow you to dodge inconvenient columns or posts.  Some groups working with a limited budget can find success by setting up tables on one end of a large room and theater-style seating on the other; if your group doesn’t mind changing seats for the show, you can accommodate larger numbers without using a stage.  If going without a stage, make sure the lighting and sound are flawless.

Distance

Distance is a key component of both visibility and a sense of immediacy.  Separating a performer or speaker from the audience with a dance floor or other large open space always reduces the effectiveness of the presentation and diminishes the audience’s experience (Figure 1).  Splitting an audience with a dance floor (Figure 2) will also drain the energy from a live presentation or performance.

Figure 1 - Avoid Figure 1 - Avoid Figure 3 - Preferred

If a dance floor is required, place it to one side of the room and add an additional table for the DJ (Figure 3).  If the DJ or band must use the same stage as the performer, or if the dance floor cannot be repositioned, try to place seating on the floor until the dinner and show are concluded, then have those tables removed during a break after the featured performance and before the dance music starts.

Atlanta magician and keynote speaker Joe M. Turner presents an illusion via IMAG at a 2010 conference.

Atlanta magician and keynote speaker Joe M. Turner presents an illusion via IMAG at a 2010 conference.

IMAG

Image magnification, or IMAG, can be a valuable solution to problems of distance and staging.  By projecting the speaker, presenter, or entertainer’s image on large video screens, problems of distance are quickly overcome.  In addition to allowing more viewers to see the proceedings at a greater distance, it also broadens the scale and thus the variety of entertainment which can be presented effectively.

With regard to magic specifically, IMAG allows performer to use a wider range of equipment and draw upon a broader repertoire of material during the show.  For example, a magic routine with a handful of dollar bills, a deck of cards, or the company’s annual report suddenly becomes just as visible to thousands of people as a full-scale stage illusion.  This can result in savings on the entertainment budget because the transportation of additional illusions and assistants may be trimmed if the show is designed for a single performer.

If you think IMAG may potentially be part of your event plan, discuss it with your performer so that you both talk through the full range of options available as part of the entertainment.  One last tip – please don’t record the projected video without the knowledge and consent of the performer; an infinite set of repeat performances for future audiences is an added value for which performers and speakers deserve to be compensated.

Head Tables

Whether at a dinner or a luncheon, no experienced speaker or performer ever wants to be trapped behind a lectern at a head table.  Add a platform on another wall to improve focus on your performer and to give him or her space to move.  Likewise, the people at the head table should not be relegated to watching the side or back of any presenter.  Give your performer or speaker the opportunity to make an excellent, lasting impression on your organization’s leadership by letting them experience the presentation as it is intended to be seen: from the front.

In Conclusion…

Good visibility is critical to the after-dinner entertainment experience.  Savvy event planners and meeting planners keep visibility in mind even when working on details that seem unrelated to the entertainment.  First-time planners — often those who have recently been tapped for “this year’s event” — sometimes find themselves surprised at the last minute when all the pieces of the puzzle are finally in the same room at the same time.  These tips are intended as helpful hints from someone who has worked through the challenges and wants to help you create the best possible environment for your successful event.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on entertainment and event-planning pitfalls… and how to avoid or overcome them!  And in the meantime, if you’re planning a meeting or special event – call me and let’s talk about how my visual and psychological illusions can add value to your conference or banquet.

Distance

Distance is a key

Posted in Publication | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

3 Ways That Strolling Magic Enhances Corporate Events and Group Receptions

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on June 1, 2010

How Magic Works in Corporate Settings

Part Two: Adding Interactive Magic and Mentalism to Group Receptions and Networking Events

Event planners and meeting planners face unusual challenges.  One of these is the “networking event” or “welcome reception” – traditionally held on the first evening of a conference.

Imagine that you’re planning a meeting or conference that is going to draw people from around the nation or even around the world.  In order to have an effective conference, these people need to meet and interact with others, hopefully creating new relationships and deepening existing ones.  So, on the first evening, after everyone has arrived from the airport and checked into the hotel, we put them all in a room, give them some drinks, and hope that a sense of community starts to form.

Joe M. Turner, the Chief Impossibility Officer, performing strolling magic and mentalism.

Joe M. Turner - The Chief Impossibility Officer
Magically enhancing the effectiveness
of a large corporate hospitality event.

Sometimes it happens by itself, at least in a limited fashion.  Every group will include some individuals whose social skills and intuition will start to click and they’ll start to work the room.  Generally speaking, though, most people find these events at least somewhat uncomfortable and awkward, and find it difficult to introduce themselves to new people or inject themselves into group conversations.  Left to themselves, most attendees will cluster with people they already know, reducing the intended effectiveness of the event.  These people often leave with the sense that the event was boring, pointless, and unsuccessful.

The addition of an interactive, mobile entertainer, particularly using magic and mentalism, changes the dynamic of these events in some important ways.

  1. The Performer-to-Participant Dynamic
    First, a skilled presenter of visual or psychological illusions is by definition giving people an unusual, out-of-the-ordinary experience.  It is an automatic conversation starter, even among people who have never previously met.  Just as shared experiences over time help to coalesce people into teams in the macro sense, these small shared experiences start to build community in the micro sense, facilitating interaction by giving the attendees an obvious and immediate topic on which to comment.  As a performer, this “performer to participant” relationship is at the foundation of all my event goals – and it’s my challenge as an artist to deliver the highest quality, most entertaining illusions for the eyes and minds of the audience.  Appealing, stunning, interactive mysteries create buzz and get people excited.

  2. The Participant-to-Participant Dynamic
    Second, an experienced professional with an understanding of communication and the dynamics of interpersonal interaction will proactively use these moments of attention and response to make introductions.  This cannot always be scripted, nor should it be forced or wedged into every single situation; it is a social skill that performers develop after years of experience in real-world situations.  When I perform in the mobile, “strolling” environment, one of the most important tasks I set for myself is to find out where people are from and to introduce them to people from other locations as the event proceeds.  “Carl, what company, division or department are you with?  Have you met Claire?  She’s from Connecticut – and she has an impressive sense of intuition!  Watch this…”  In this way, the “participant to participant” relationship is enabled and enhanced by the experienced close-up entertainer.

  3. The Event-to-Participant Dynamic
    Finally, there are some events and situations where the entertainment may have the additional objective of communicating some specific messaging about the event or organization.  For example, a conference may wish to create anticipation about a surprise announcement to happen later in the convention – an unexpected guest, product launch, or special event.  Perhaps there is a specific goal that the conference is either setting or celebrating.  Maybe there is a specific key word or important number that the organizers want people to buzz about after the event.  Or maybe the message is nothing more than, “We really want you to have a great time at this conference!”

    Whatever the reason or message, my goals in these cases are 1) to work with the event organizers to understand the objective and the message, 2) to draw upon my experience and expertise to integrate that message with magic, and 3) to deliver that message in an entertaining, memorable way.  “Message driven entertainment” takes many shapes, and I work with the conference planners to identify various solutions for each situation.  The ability to design and deliver exciting and effective “event to participant” communications is a specialized skill that, in conjunction with a highly skilled performer, helps to ensure that the objectives for the event are achieved.

Each of these three relationships – Performer-to Participant, Participant-to-Participant, and Event-to-Participant – plays a significant role in the effectiveness of a group event or reception.  Many performers and entertainers in this industry have a firm grasp on the first of these, and that’s great for everyone.  What sets some performers apart is not just mastery of the performance, but the ability to take it to the next level – and the next! – to ensure that the entertainment supports the overall objectives and messaging of the conference, to the appropriate degree.

Are you working on a meeting or conference that includes a group reception?  Call me, and let’s work together to make it exceptional.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Event planners: Explorers, Expanders, and Exorcists

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on May 24, 2010

How Magic Works in Corporate Settings

Part One: Focusing on Client Experiences and Needs

When clients are considering magical entertainment or magic-enhanced speaking as a possible addition to their event, they are often venturing into unfamiliar territory.  Though every situation is different, my experience is that most event or meeting planners who are considering a magical speaker or entertainer fall into one of the following three categories: Explorers, Expanders, and Exorcists.  Each group is asking a different kind of question.

Compass

Explorers - trying to find the way to a new idea.

Explorers:  “What new thing can I find?”

The first group of clients are those who have never have worked with a professional magical entertainer in any venue.  Many times, these people have either devised a magic theme themselves, or they have been presented with an event theme (“The Magic of…” or “Vegas Night,” etc.) decided upon by their team or another event planner.  In the case of un-themed events or events without a specific magic theme, the use of a magician, mentalist, or magical keynote speaker has usually been recommended by another planner.  (And if you ever wanted a short summary of my business model, that’s it.)

I find that these Explorers – companies, groups, and planners – are usually wide open on the creative side of applying magic to multiple events during a conference, though almost always with a careful eye to budget constraints.  These clients value experience, creativity, and cost-consciousness.  It’s a new world for them, and as a performer I appreciate the trust that these clients place in me to be their guide and navigator.

Being the initial experience for an “Explorer” is also a big responsibility, because the result of this experience will transform this client into one of the other two types – either an Expander or an Exorcist.  It’s important to dream big and deliver for these Explorers, but it’s equally important to be realistic about what you can really do well and where your expertise lies.  Stretch your skills, not the truth.

Expanders like to see where previous ideas can be creatively reapplied and repurposed. Look at this idea, combining a laptop case with a book, even down to the bookmark detail. Is there a message here?

Expanders:  “Where else can I use this idea?”

Another possibility is that a client has worked with a magician or mentalist on a previous event, but the client is only familiar with that single aspect of how mystery entertainment can be integrated into multiple parts of an event.  The previous entertainer may have delivered a quality show for one venue, but did not indicate a level of versatility or creativity in providing a broader range of experiences.  These planners are “Expanders,” ready to expand their understanding of what magic performance can bring to their events.

Expanders are often enthusiastic about magic, and are excited to hear different ways that they can create exciting, high-impact experiences for their audiences.  These clients are anxious to hear success stories about how a different approach worked at other events, and if you have a creative twist on that idea for them, so much the better!

The risk, of course, is that given the open mind of an Expander, the over-enthusiastic provider will conclude that he has a hammer and the event is comprised of nothing but nails.  Sometimes the Expander gets in on this game and also wants to add magic to every single element of the event.

Experienced planners and providers will resist this temptation.  Less is often more.

Exorcists:  “How can I end this and avoid another horrible experience?”

An unfortunate third possibility is that a client has worked with another provider in the past who delivered a low-quality program that did not inspire confidence in future use of mystery entertainment at all.  They are the “Exorcists,” and they are actively excluding magic from consideration in their events.  It’s not quite casting out demons, but this client has been burned by a bad experience and understandably wishes to avoid that in the future.

Exorcists are like the Ghostbusters - "Okay magic guy, get in the box and don't come out."

Strangely, after a planner has a bad experience with a caterer or vocalist, he or she will not swear off caterers and singers forever.  With magic, though, the fact is that a poor performer creates an obstacle that can be difficult for other providers to overcome, regardless of quality.  While it can be a challenge to get in the door, these clients can become some of your most vocal cheerleaders when you deliver a successful new experience to overshadow the old.

In this series, I will discuss a variety of creative ideas for incorporating magic and mentalism entertainment into different corporate environments.  Planners who fall into each of the categories above will find ideas and insights that can help them use corporate magic, mentalism, and (sometimes) message-driven entertainment to ensure the success and lasting impact of their events.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »