innovation & creativity | May 09, 2017

Captivating Audiences: Magician David Kwong Shows Us How to Sell Ideas, Products, & Skills Using the Power of Illusion


Illusionist and writer David Kwong has held corporate CEOs, TED audiences, and thousands of other notoriously rational animals rapt—controlling their perception of truth to the smallest degree. How? In his new book Spellbound, he spills the secrets that will help anyone grow their business in new, and exciting, directions. 

According to David Kwong, illusion is “an ancient art that centers on control: commanding a room, building anticipation, and appearing to work wonders.” It works, he says, because the human brain is wired to fill the gap between seeing and believing. Iconic leaders—like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, and Ted Turner—are masters of control and command who understand how to shift opinions and achieve goals. 
In his years of research and practice, Kwong has discovered seven fundamental principles of illusion, which he delineates in his new book; formalizing helpful and accessible tricks that legends like Jobs, Buffett, and Turner made an art of.  Kwong’s rules break down as follows:


  1. 1. Mind the Gap—recognize and employ the perceptual space between your audience’s ability to see and their impulse to believe.
  1. 2. Load Up—prepare to amaze your audience.
  1. 3. Write the Script—discover the importance of shaping the narrative that surrounds your illusion.

    4. Control the Frame—explore the real life value of a magician’s best friend: misdirection.
  3. 5. Design Free Choice—command your audience by giving them agency.

    6. Employ the Familiar—take secret advantage of habits, patterns, and audience expectations.
  5. 7. Conjure an Out—develop backup plans that will keep you one, two, three, or more steps ahead of the competition.

“Fifteen years ago David Kwong and I started a magic club together, and one of us was good enough to quit his day job. This book shows how the art and science of illusion can make us more engaging and more persuasive.”

— Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
A veteran “cruciverbalist” (crossword puzzle constructor), Kwong routinely creates puzzles for The New York TimesLos Angeles Times, and other national publications. He is also the founder of the Misdirectors Guild, an elite group of magicians that specialize in magic for film and television. He is the puzzle and secret code consultant for the hit NBC show Blindspot. He was the head magic consultant on the 2013 film Now You See Me, teaching magic to Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, and Woody Harrelson. Kwong has also designed magic and puzzles for films such as Ant-ManThe Incredible Burt WonderstoneThe Imitation GameMission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and The Magnificent Seven. Up next, he’s set to co-produce the “magic procedural” television show, Deception, teaming up with his Blindspot collaborators. 


Watch Kwong wow the Today Show with a predictive series of tricks here.

Spellbound comes out from HarperCollins on Tuesday May 9.
To book David Kwong for your next event, contact the Lavin Agency, his exclusive speaker’s bureau. 

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