I happened to be channel surfing the other night when I came across a show on VH1 called The Pick Up Artist. From what I watched of the show, it seemed kind of silly, as quite a lot of reality TV strikes me. The premise here is some nerdy guys are taught how to pick up women by an expert pick up artist, a guy called Mystery
As I was watching, Mystery was telling the guys that when talking to women they should be enthusiastic. He said it didn’t really matter what they were talking about as women find enthusiasm irresistible, or words to that effect.
Well, he was half right. Actually both sexes find enthusiasm captivating. Like confidence, which I touched briefly upon in the last post, enthusiasm is a key component in that larger variable known as charisma, and it’s something you can employ to improve your appeal to an audience.
You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “Enthusiasm is contagious.” It really is. I remember in college having to attend an algebra class. Now, I am not a math person. Actually that’s putting it mildly – I hate math. For whatever reason, my brain isn’t wired to work well with numbers, and even doing elementary calculations can be a trial.
Anyway, I was sitting there the first day in this algebra class, an English major who loathed math, thinking what was to come was going to be about as enjoyable as getting teeth pulled. In walked the instructor, this rather plain looking guy in a short sleeve shirt and tie and wire framed glasses. He might as well have had a slide rule in his shirt pocket and a tattoo on his forehead that read Math Geek. No, I decided, this wasn’t going to be as enjoyable as getting teeth pulled – I’d stumbled into one of Dante’s inner circles of hell.
Then magic happened. He started to speak. He started to explain to us why algebra was important and what a fascinating subject it really was. And I found myself listening and believing what he was saying. Why? Because he was really into what he was saying. He wasn’t just giving it lip service. He was excited about what he was teaching, passionate about his subject. In a word, he was enthusiastic.
It ended up becoming my favorite class that semester, not because of the subject – I finished the class with a high C and was grateful for it – but because of the instructor. More than teaching me about constants and variables, he taught me that enthusiasm is a power unto itself. Here was a guy who at first glance appeared as boring as watching dust accumulate but who was able, through his enthusiasm, to become during class time one of the most captivating people I’d ever seen. It was a real revelation.
So how can you put that power to work? By simply being enthusiastic about what you’re doing. It’s that easy. Do you love magic? Probably so or you wouldn’t be here reading a magic blog. Do you find magic fascinating, does it hold your interest as nothing else can? Share it. Share your passion. Get excited about what you’re doing! If you’re excited they will become excited and everybody wins.
That doesn’t mean you have to jump on tables and yell, “Wow, watch this!” You want to communicate enthusiasm, not insanity. Passion loses none of its power for being restrained; to the contrary, quiet passion can be even more captivating as it suggests much happening below the surface. The most important thing about enthusiasm is it be genuine. Like sincerity, nothing’s more difficult to fake and when faked devolves into self-parody.
I guess what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to show people how you feel about your magic. Allow them into your secret world, your private heart. Fear is probably the biggest obstacle to overcome in displaying your enthusiasm, just as fear is the biggest inhibitor to charisma. Imagine a guy standing there mumbling, afraid to look into the eyes of his audience, huddled over his props as if someone might grab them. Would you feel captivated to watch such a person? Not unless you had a perverse desire to see him fall flat on his face. Contrast that image with one of a performer speaking passionately about what he’s doing, looking directly at each and every audience member, open with his gestures and body language. I think maybe that’s the real difference: One performer is closed and one is open. Enthusiasm opens you to the audience. Listen to me, they want to like you, they want to be entertained. Being enthusiastic about what you’re doing allows them to do just that.