NEW YORK — When appearing on radio, TV or the stage, I have to engage the audience in seconds. It’s similar to the challenge of attracting a listener when they turn on the key to the car. Here are five techniques that have been proven to work for me for decades:
1. Surprise. Yes, many people know my act but I work surprises in to every show. If you saw me last month they will not see the same show this month. Surprises generate word of mouth and repeaters.
2. Passion and energy. If I am not interested in what I’m doing, no one else is. Many “acts” that have long tenure fall into the trap of going through the motions. Audiences only remember that the performer seemed bored – a bad memory.
3. Funny. In all media, the talent that is funny, regardless of the nature of the act, wins. I constantly look for fresh jokes, comments and ways to engage through laughter.
4. Candor and vulnerability. The audience knows I’m at risk! To get paid for the show, I have to actually find my check. A few times I could not and once I lost over $50,000 for a performance. That vulnerability puts me and the audience in the moment together. There is nothing more engaging on the radio than the moment the host takes a call because no one knows what’s going to happen.
5. Talk to points of emotion rather than facts. When I speak from the heart and make it personal, the audience stays with me to the curtain call.
Some of these points may seem obvious but the key is consistency. I have found that I can’t deliver these techniques occasionally, I have to deliver them every minute.
The Amazing Kreskin appeared on The Tonight Show 61 times from 1970 to 1980. In the 1980s and 1990s he came to prominence again through several appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and on the Howard Stern Show. In 2009, he became the first guest to make three appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He has profound experiences on radio as a frequent guest and substitute host for Alan Colmes and Long John Nebel. Meet the Amazing Kreskin at TALKERS 2017: A New Era on June 2 in New York City.