ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

January 1999

Emergency Quality Management

Mission Impossible: The Ultimate Facilitation Challenge

Do You Believe In Magic?

Remembering Root Cause Analysis

Conversations For A Change

by Peter Block

Fox Shows Employees It Has Heart
by Lynn L. Franzoi

Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Sites Unseen

The Quality Tool I Never Use

Book Review


Do You Believe In Magic?
Enhancing Presentations Through Magic Stories and Metaphors

Everyone has faced it, many fear it— the 1,000-yard stare of a terminally bored member of an audience during a presentation. No matter how prepared or energetic we attempt to be, every presenter has been caught empty handed in the face of a difficult audience at least once.

Ed Rose, a training manager at Harris Semiconductor in Palm Bay, Fla., has identified this phenomenon—MYGLO, also known as “My Eyes Glazed Over.” Through the use of magic, stories and metaphors Rose has developed an approach to combat this uncomfortable experience from occurring.

Rose began using magic to grab the attention of trainees to facilitate their learning and to make the training more effective at Harris Corporation, a global communications company.

Once Upon a Time
“Harris Semiconductor has been transitioning to a team-based organization over the last 10 years and training is essential to building a strong foundation for teamwork,” Rose explains. Originally a production manager, magic helped Rose to not only make the most of his promotion, but to take his career, “to a new level.”

He has since realized the almost limitless potential of magic, in conjunction with story-telling, to enhance retention of material and provide metaphorical explanations of ideas. “I use it in my classes, from general team training to leadership effectiveness workshops, to illustrate learning points from team synergy to explaining the Situational Leadership Model,” says Rose. “Employees at Harris Semiconductor look forward to my presentations because they know they will be interesting.” His success with magic led Rose to write “Presenting and Training with Magic” in 1997.

Magic is a tool that can be utilized in many different facets of presentations, depending on the personal style of the presenter. Rose stresses that the use of magic will not radically alter presentation styles, but will be incorporated according to each presenter’s personal strengthsin order to grab attention, illustrate points or simply make the presenter become more comfortable in front of a group.

Tricks of the Trade
One need not be David Copperfield to effectively incorporate magic into presentation routines, but ESP always helps. Energy, Style and Personality remain key ingredients to a successful and engaging presentation. “What I will share with the participants is a tool and some techniques that they can incorporate into their own personal style,” Rose says.

Rose teaches at least 12 different tricks, but he suggests that participants focus on five to begin. Magic tricks such as the “Needle Through the Balloon” are taught in conjunction with certain stories or metaphors. For example, the “Fire into Rose” trick is taught as an example that, as Rose says, “It is not the events of your life that decide your destiny, but the decisions you make.”

By the end of the workshop, participants will perform a trick while telling a story in order to explain a point. “Stories have been used by leaders from the beginning of time to teach and inspire people,” says Rose, “The human memory is story-based and memory depends a great deal on creating associations.” By learning to link a story and a visual trick with their message, presenters become more effective communicators.

Being an effective communicator also means eradicating the dreaded MYGLO. Rose gives seven steps for presenters to wipe their presentations forever clean of such negative responses.
1. Use your personal energy.
2. Develop patter that fits.
3. Be your (best-animated) self.
4. Golden rule: practice.
5. Never reveal the secret.
6. Make it work for you, innovate.
7. Keep it simple.

While Rose himself seems bent on breaking rule number five, he believes wholeheartedly in the final rule. A self-confessed “average Joe,” Rose discovered that simple tricks could be interesting, captivating and fun. “Magic can be done by anyone and is very user-friendly,” says Rose. Because his magic tricks are not spellbindingly difficult, Rose says that he is “continually blown away” by the results of a four hour session.”

Be careful, however, because you might have some fun in the process. “It’s about having fun,” says Rose, who often presents to large youth groups and high school business organizations. Magic made such an impression on some teenagers that one even approached him several years later in a grocery store, curious if he was “that magic guy.”

The Real Purpose of MTV
Rose views an effective presentation much like a performance. “In today’s MTV generation you almost have to be an entertainer to be an effective trainer,” says Rose. Not only does magic grab attention, but also creates an air of mystery for the presenter. “Once a presenter does something the audience doesn’t understand, he gains credibility,” explains Rose. Mixing entertainment into the serious business of presentations serves not only to wake up an audience, but to help them retain your most important points.

Whether you simply want to impress your friends with sleight of hand or make a point at a team meeting, Rose believes that magic can work in almost limitless ways for presentations, but he stresses that one must endeavor to know the audience. By understanding the complexities of a given audience, stories and visual magic metaphors can be combined for maximum impact. With magic as a tool, the presenter can also avoid a token opening joke. “Magic is a universal language, and is much safer than jokes because it won’t offend people,” Rose says. Magic is also more unique and is certainly not what the audience is expecting.

After experiencing so much success in training with magic at Harris Semiconductor, Rose wrote a second book, “50 Ways to Teach Your Learner.” “It’s about some of the techniques we use at Harris Semiconduct-or in building effective teams,” said Rose.

January '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
  • Print this page
  • Save this page

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this item

View comments
Add comments
Comments FAQ

ASQ News