One of the most interesting aspects of my job is being asked by a client to create a customized presentation. This might mean making a new product appear on stage, sometimes it is to introduce a VIP or celebrity and many times it is to kick off or close their convention with a memorable message. Other times they want me to sell their product or service to their customers, whether that be on a trade show floor or at sit-down program.
Here is an example from a few years ago when we joined a VP of sales on stage to introduce a new top of its class scanner to a group of Kodak executives. When you hear the reaction from the audience, you will get an idea of the impact that a custom presentation can have!
From my side I’ve learned a couple things; some customized presentations are an easy fit. They match up naturally and everything works like clockwork. It would be simple for a magician to work up routines for the Rabbit Breeders Association. But others require some heavy mental lifting. (What do magic, and deep-sea drill bits have in common?) There is a wide swath of industries that fall somewhere in between those extremes. Here’s an example of one such custom presentation and it is kind of a fun story: I got a call from a large company that makes medical supplies. Surgical bandages, syringes, sutures, that sort of thing. They asked me to come to their campus and pitch them a presentation for a sales meeting. They flew me to their city and had a limo waiting for me at the airport. I liked them already. After we went to lunch, a dozen or so sales managers and I met in a board room for my pitch. I began by saying, “Hi, my name is Fred. Before we start, I want to acknowledge that there is usually one person in a group like this that doesn’t understand what a magician could possibly have to do with your sales message.” Everyone in the room busted out laughing and pointing at one man, shouting “George!” You see, I often fight peoples’ preconceived notions that a magician’s only place is at a 5-year old’s birthday party. This is a big mental hurtle to clear, if you haven’t seen my presentations first hand. The truth is that foremost I am communicator; one that uses magic and stunts to create visual metaphors for your message. Sort of like a live special-effects artist melding your message or product with amazing results. Another challenge when building a custom presentation for a group is cutting through all the industry jargon and accompanying acronyms. In the case of the medical supply company they provided me with a lot of information about their products that stated, “This [product] was designed to improve FPU, especially through PPI and TMS. This exceeds all guidelines set out by the QA department of the DA making it the top QER in its class.” Uh-huh… Not only can this kind of language be a tongue twister, it just doesn’t make for a compelling presentation. Which is, of course, precisely why they brought me in. With a little out the box thinking, I was able to bring their complicated concepts to life. By highlighting how innovative, safe, and comfortable the products are for the patient, I crafted a script that was much more relatable. After my “audition” pitch was successful, we moved into writing a full presentation. There is a good amount of collaboration involved here. I like to get fully versed in the company and the culture of their intended audience in short order. In this example, the medical supply company sent me boxes of their products, so that I might build them into my presentation. On the day of the event, conference attendees were broken into smaller groups in a “round -robin” situation, rotating through different meeting rooms. This meant that I did my presentation about seven times throughout the day, each for a different group. The fun part for me was watching the attendees walk in and take their seats. They had been listening to talking heads, staring at pie charts and hearing an alphabet soup of acronyms all day. Their attention spans were shot.
I walked on the small stage, apparently another talking head. Then without warning I made a bowling ball appear out of nowhere and let it crash meeting room risers with a resounding THUD. The attendees’ world suddenly went sideways, and from my vantage point could watch them visibly wake up and pay attention! For the next twenty minutes I wove stage magic demonstrations together with surgical sutures, safety syringes, even “adult incontinence briefs” to laughs and enthusiastic applause.
Remember George? By the end of the day he was darn near giddy with excitement. He had been de-greeting the room as people left, receiving all their comments and feedback. He came to me and exclaimed, “I get it now!” The conference attendees voted us the best presentation that year, but personally winning over George was the most gratifying. A year or so later, a friend was helping me move some items into my warehouse. We opened a box and it was full of syringes. He said, “Uh Fred, do you have a problem I should know about?” I had another chuckle as I recounted this story with him… I was just a bit relieved he didn’t see the left over adult incontinence briefs! If you’d like to explore a custom presentation for your company or event, feel free to get in touch. I’d love the challenge of making your service or product come alive with magic!
Here is the official review from Colin Pries, the person in charge of the event above, “I had the pleasure of hiring Fred while at Covidien (now Medtronic). As an entertainer and magician, he exceeded our expectations in front of a large and “critical” audience. He is the “real deal”. As a business person, he was honest, responsive and professional throughout. I would recommend Fred without hesitation for corporate entertainment, both small and large venues. He was funny, engaging and everything one would want in a corporate entertainer. Neither you nor your audience will be disappointed.”