The Best (and Worst) Magic for Zoom
I did my first virtual magic shows in spring of 2020, and I quickly learned what worked over Zoom and what didn’t. I realized then that if I was going to succeed in the virtual space, I had to create a show that was made for the medium.
Here’s what works (and doesn’t work) in a virtual magic show:
A Short Visual Opener
A virtual magician should immediately demonstrate to the audience that they are in good hands. The best way to do this is by performing a short, visual piece that knocks their socks off! This will instantly prove to the skeptics that the show is worth their time and attention.
Virtual meetings are all about CONNECTING with people. And a good zoom magic show is about connecting with the audience. It’s important to get the audience involved again and again throughout the show.
Magic in Their Hands
Magic that happens on screen can be visual and amazing, but magic that happens in a spectator’s hands (thousands of miles away), can be incredibly powerful! I try to have multiple moments in the show where the magic happens in the hands and homes of my audience members. It creates a real sense of participation, and the reactions are off the charts!
Seeing the Audience
Audiences want to SEE volunteers, not just hear them. Zoom is a visual medium, and showing the volunteer (either by co-spotlighting or using picture-in-picture) creates a sense of community and generates interest. When everyone sees a huge reaction from a volunteer, they’ll react in a big way, too!
When performing at virtual company events, I customize my show to feature their company or meeting theme. I may create a custom grand finale featuring their products, or simply theme my show around the meeting topic.
I’ve been customizing my corporate stage shows for years. Custom shows are a HUGE hit with executives and employees alike. Most importantly, it makes the show more meaningful to the audience.
At a minimum, audiences are expecting a nice home studio with good lighting and clear sound. But that’s the MINIMUM.
I’ve spent thousands getting my studio to a level that exceeds expectations, with multiple camera angles, animated overlays, integrated music and more. By using the latest streaming hardware, I can give my audiences a fantastic front-row experience from anywhere in the world.
What Doesn’t Work:
Endless Card Tricks
I love card tricks, but audiences want variety! They want a mix of different effects (vanishes, reappearances, mind reading, etc.). These days, my online show only has three card routines.
Not Cutting to the Gallery for Applause
What does a TV director do when a stand-up comedian tells a joke? They cut to a shot of the audience laughing!
Always show the audience during the applause cues! Cutting to the gallery is the easiest way to increase applause, communicate FUN, and create a sense of participation.
Too Many Solo Pieces
All shows need one or two solo pieces. These are routines (often done to music) that don’t directly involve the audience in any way. They can be a wonderful change of pace! But if you have too many of these routines, you’ll miss out on audience participation.
Audience participation is the key to effective and fun magic and mentalism! Perform WITH your audience, not AT them.
A “One Size Fits All” Show
The kind of magic that entertains adults at a company happy hour is NOT the same type of magic that entertains children. A corporate magician should always know their audience.
Thanks for reading. I hope this gives you a small window into my virtual performing philosophy. Have an upcoming virtual event? Contact me anytime to learn how I can help make your next event a magical success.