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Topic: Setting The Expectations
Message: Posted by: AndyLuka (Jul 12, 2012 02:47PM)
This was originally part of a PM I sent to another member on the forums. I know I am still new to busking, and I have a lot to learn, however this is something I learned on the pitch. I wish I knew it my first day, and not just the last few. What I am about to discuss with all of you is not anything new. It has been posted in many threads, but not in as much detail (a quick search came back null).
The topic I am talking about is setting the expectations for your audience. Before I get into exact details I want to let everyone know who I am and where I am coming from. I am a semi-professional magician from Milwaukee. I say semi-professional because I have not yet made the leap to make magic my primary source of income. For the past 5-6 years I have been doing mostly close up strolling magic at bars, restaurants, bowling allies. I do a lot of birthday parties, private parties and other events as well, but not as much as I do strolling. My Primary Job is working at one of the Largest Banks in the world. I am a personal banker and my main job is sales. The bank I work for has a very strict and detailed sales process. And I know firsthand it works. The funny thing is I applied the same sales technique to my street show, and I got great results. Some of you may read this and at the end say, well no s**t. Others may have an ah-ha moment. Whichever the case is, here is “setting the expectations”
When you start the show you need to set the expectation for your audience. This should be one of the first things they hear you say. Setting the expectation not only tells the audience what they should expect, but tells them what you expect in return. Here are the Key things that should be said.
1.) Who you are
2.) What you are about to do
3.) How long it will take
4.) What you expect from them
Here is a sample of what I was doing. I would pull a few people in and say “hey guys, magic show is about to start, let me warm up a little with this coin trick and when we have enough people we can start the show” I would then look everyone in the eye shake their hand and ask their name. I then do a little coin flurry with the muscle pass as an ending. I choose the muscle pass ending because it was super visual and could be seen from a distance. As more people gathered I would still shake their hand look them in the eye and ask their name. I wouldn’t say my name unless they asked. Once I had enough people stop over I would say “This is enough people lets go ahead and start the show” I would put the coin away and pull out my opening effect in this case it was a rope. Before I handed out the rope for inspection I would then set the expectation “Ladies and Gentlemen My name is Andy Luka I am a professional Magician from Oak Creek(step 1) You guys are about to watch my street magic show(step2) The show is only 10-15 minutes long(step3), I know it’s hot outside so I won’t keep you here all day. At the end if you guys liked the show please be kind and throw a few bucks into my bucket. (step4)Are you guys ready to see some magic……I SAID ARE YOU GUYS READY TO SEE SOME MAGIC!!!?” (on with the show).
There are a few things I want to point out here. First I can’t not stress enough how important it is for you to ask everyone’s name and shake their hand before you start. I found that almost everyone I did that with not only were they a more fun audience but they always tipped. The other thing is I got threw all of my bullet points very quick, and I did not end on the tips. I ended on a high note, trying to pump everyone up.

Now, guys there are a step 5. It’s called the reminder. My closer was the cups and balls. Once I had 3 oranges loaded and my hat load on the table. (4th orange still in the pouch) I would pause, walk around my table and say. “Ladies and Gentlemen I am about to go into the BIG FINNISH (step2). But before I do I want to remind everyone My name is Andy Luka I am a professional magician from Oak Creek (step1) You guys are watching my street show. If you guys like the show so far please throw a couple of bucks into my bucket, (say your hat lines, step4). Ladies and gentlemen, We are just about done(step3), are you ready for the big finish? I SAID ARE YOU READY FOR THE BIG FINNSH!!!?

I just want to note again. I quickly go through all the steps(steps do not need to be in order, as long as you make sense) I reminded the audience I am looking for tips (and educated people who came in the middle of the show) and still ended on a positive note, they know something big is about to happen, so they will stay, be sure you don’t let them down on your big Finnish.
After the finish and everyone is rushing to give you every dollar they have in their wallets, make an effort to thank every single person that puts anything in your hat, I gave adults a hand shake and kids a high five and told each and every one of them how much I appreciate it. Just like in the beginning when you ask names, you thank them for their generosity. This shows you are thankful for everything and may just push someone else to toss in an extra dollar.

This is what I was doing and it was working for me. I will not assume everyone does this exact same thing, maybe this has been inspirational to other noobie buskers like myself, or maybe an old vet. Will get on here and tear me a new one because I did it all wrong. I’m excited to see your thoughts.

**Disclaimer, this is all personal experience, at the time of this writing. I have not read any books, or watched any DVDs on the art of busking. So if some information is the same as published work. It is purely coincidental**