Telegraphing

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~ Guest Post by Danny Goldsmith ~ 

We all want to get great reactions from our spectators with our coin magic. Too often we may get the spectator with their arms crossed, scowl on their face, speculating about how it may have been done. We want the magic to look impossible! I personally prefer the spectator is laughing hysterically, dancing around, or standing there stunned with jaw dropped and eyes wide open. When I’m lucky, I get mind-shattering tears of joy—a spectator reintroduced to their child-like wonder.

There are many ways to properly perform magic to get these kinds of reactions. Today, I want to talk about the element of surprise: how to lead your spectator so that they are not anticipating each climax.

There are many ways we ruin the surprise by telegraphing what we are about to do. I believe the biggest way is with our patter. It’s our language that most often gives us away.

For example, I have often seen coin magicians produce a coin and say, “That’s the first.” The problem with this is that you have now told the spectator that a second coin is coming. They are now looking for where the second coin is being concealed when they might have subconsciously felt the hand was empty had you simply produced a coin and said “A silver dollar. This one is from 1887; Einstein may have touched this coin.”

With the latter example the spectator has now directed their attention to the coin and the description of the coin rather than speculate about what will happen next. Because the spectator has not started to anticipate the next move, the subconscious assumption is that there is only one coin. Within this assumption a Ramsey subtlety or any other means of showing the hands partially empty is more likely to convince the spectator of an empty hand, due to their lack of analysis and speculation. This allows for the second coin to be a surprise as well as to give the illusion that the hands were empty before the production.

So, with good patter we bring the spectator’s attention to a detail about the present moment and relieve their impulse to anticipate the next move. With bad patter, our language gives away our next move and spoils our presentation.

There are exceptions: Giving yourself away can sometimes make an effect look more impossible. If you were to tell your spectator that you were about to produce a coin and then showed your hands unmistakably empty, fingers spread and from here produced a coin…well, then you have a miracle.


I hope this helps you to look at how your presentation is subconsciously communicating to your spectators. These little details help us establish magic in their minds rather than simply fool their eyes. Magic that happens in our minds has the power to invoke child-like wonder and therefore bring great joy to our spectators. It is an experience they will never forget.

For mind numbing coin magic, follow Danny Goldsmith on Instagram @dannygoldsmithmagic

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