When I was 16 I got a job working at a ticket booth at the local cinema. I wasn’t actually interested in working or getting a job. However all my friends were so I thought I better get to it. Working at a cinema was the best ‘normal’ job I ever had and will ever have.
Part of the reason the manager gave me the job at the ticket office was because I was good with numbers.
But I too possessed something more valuable than that. I was told I had the gift of the gab! This is a phrase Belfastians use when a person is good at talking and making conversations. I was so good at greeting people and welcoming them into the place that if ever I was working I knew I’d be in the ticket booth. I convinced people with a smile to see movies.
Oddly it was a cinema where I found my talent of talking, not performing magic. But this skill has been incredibly useful as I become more involved with magic.
On the phone call to hell!
Talking to people naturally is a quick way to make customers feel comfortable and confident in what you are doing.
This was not always the case for me.
I remember my very first phone call for FizzWizzPop. I literally cried for days making myself believe I was just rubbish. Though I mustn’t have been that bad as I did get that first gig. Looking back now with the experience I have it’s amazing how bad I made myself feel over something so trivial. At the time it was so important.
Remember the more we practice skills like conversation the easier dealing with customers will become. A bit like my close up journey. It’s really hard to believe how scared I was two years ago. Especially when I am now performing Close up Magic weekly to people all over the world.
Anything is possible when you put your mind to it!
A trick up the sleeve means preparation!
Some tips for those nervous about taking phone calls from customers.
- Write down a script of things you need to say and details you need to ask for?
- Decide your price list and type it out. If its down in black and white you will tell people what you are worth and stick to it.
- My friend Madhi Gilbert actually pointed this out and I agree… NEVER as them what their budget is immediately. This hands over the control completely to the customer. Know your worth and stick to it! It’s ok in the beginning to offer freebies. But set yourself a freebie time limit and then your set fee is final!
- Always recommend professional friends and performers. Regardless whether they recommend you back. There is plenty of work out there for everyone in our industry. And we simply cannot do all the events. I know that performing at the same event every year is just boring. Allowing variety will give more value to your work also. A bit cheeky if you are doing your job right after seeing someone else they will book you again.
- If you are already booked up always recommend. By appearing helpful to customers, they will guaranteed come back and book you the next year.
- Listen to your customer – don’t get distracted. Remember the name of the customer or if they don’t say immediately ask them for it. Try to make your phone conversations personal as possible. It shows you care about your work and the customers needs.
How we talk to children matters
The reason this blog post came to be was because something happened at an event yesterday.
I found myself sitting in a sunny garden in Belfast in deep conversation with several children. Children whom I’ve never met before for a full 30 minutes awaiting some late guests arriving to the party. After performing a wonderfully fun (socially distanced) family magic show I was sitting in my car and something hit me. Not a bird! But a feeling of achievement.
Without force I was able to hold a conversation with a group of strangers. That was not only interesting for them but for me too. It not only made them comfortable with me. But it added to the quality of the show that I produced after making that initial bond with the group. I remember attending parties in the beginning and I used to dread the time prior to the show. I simply had no idea what I was going to say. Or do and the unknown frightened me.
Today though the conversation wasn’t forced in any way. I just sat down with the children asking them simple questions. Which ended up with them turning me into a frog and various other mystical creatures.
The secret is be genuine and just don’t force it.
Kids are people too!
I have never been a fan of talking down to children or belittling them in any way. Aiming to treat children the same and talk to them at face value. I take my time to listen to them when needed. But I know when to take the lead and let them know that I am in control. This playful yet strict attitude is one of the reasons I believe FizzWizzPop is popular with kids. I have a teacher feel yet I can play in a way that many teachers cannot. Kids like that. There are rules but they can be broken when FizzWizzPop chooses too.
Finding a balance with control is key and has taken me sometime to discover and use to my advantage. Here are some tips on communicating with children.
- Speak to children as you would like to be spoken to.
- They are as intelligent if not more so than most adults. Treat them as such!
- Children are malleable – they are learning and in a developmental stage. Be understanding but also know that sometimes you might need to gently curtail the excitement. Or encourage it!
- Most children just want a bit of attention. And the disruptive ones even more so. Give them your time freely, listen and work with them. Involve them in what you do through saying something, holding a prop of letting the help you. They will be very grateful and remember it.
The comfort zone!
The more comfortable you are in communicating the more relaxed and trusting customers will be. This I have found is key to successful events and achieving more bookings and recommendations from events. It’s also the reason FizzWizzPop eventually ends up becoming part of so many families over the years.
Making connections with the people you bring your magic to means will never work a day in your life!