Company founders might be more likely to employ the services of a business coach than a master magician to help them with their pitch, but according to one prominent ‘illusionist’, that could be a mistake.
In a recent talk at Google HQ, constructor of the New York Times crossword and ‘magic consultant’ David Kwong explained how some of the key principles magicians use every day can help you persuade business partners, investors and staff to see your point of view.
Kwong is an illusionist who lends his advice to movie producers on the inner workings of the magic scene for films like Now You See Me. He explains that while the best magic tricks look absolutely effortless, just like a good pitch or persuasive argument, they succeed because of preparation.
“It’s not smoke and mirrors, it’s not dancing ladies, it’s forethought and anticipating, it’s planning. I operate in the space between preparation and misdirection,” he says.
Preparation involves laying the groundwork and anticipating how the person in front of you is going to react, he says.
Then, with an understanding that people are more willing to believe in your idea if they think they have some control over it, you are able to lay the foundations to have your audience see things your way.
“If you can get an audience believing that they are dictating how a trick goes, they will buy into the illusion more,” Kwong says.
“If you’re trying to sell your product, you’d probably have more success if you’re able to convince the person on the other side of the table that it’s their idea [to support it].”
A key element of many magic tricks is choice-supportive bias, or the concept that once you believe in an idea you will defend it even if conflicting evidence pops up.
“When you have your own idea, you will defend that idea to the death,” Kwong says.
Using examples from history and pulling apart some of his more mind-bending tricks, Kwong explains how anyone can use these principles to ensure they bring whoever they’re talking to into their ideas from the very beginning, rather than simply performing at them.
Watch the full talk below.