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What Is Misdirection in Magic? 5 Tips for Using Misdirection

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Illusions and deceptions of great masters such as Houdini and Copperfield have always fascinated people. At the same time, you are irresistibly tempted to find out how they successfully perform their tricks?

The basis of successful deceit lies in the timely and technically flawless execution of misdirection, shifting focus to objects of secondary importance to the magician’s trick.

In those moments, magic happens when no one sees it!

Unlike legitimate psychic reading that you can review on, the masters of this craft use various maneuvers to provoke necessary biochemical reactions in the observer’s attention, which lead them to cognitive dissonance. Simply put, they lead the audience to unconsciously pay attention to some trivial things and not to the very act of performing the trick.

Here are five tips on how to create misdirection. The fundamental approaches and details in the performance by which the audience cannot resist the distraction caused by the magician.


In performing the trick, a unique mental struggle occurs between the audience and the magician.

The performer should be aware that observers voluntarily allow themselves to be manipulated, that is, their attention.

The magician must be above the situation and aware that the audience is watching the trick all the time. That’s why he or she must confidently give them the bait on which their attention will be caught.

Due to the strong suggestiveness of the magicians, the audience won’t be aware that they are mistaken when it comes to sovereignly following everything that happens on the stage.

The subtlety of Crucial Movements

As for the physical part of directing the spectators’ attention, what the performer must be skilled in is the purposefulness of his every movement. The overall performance is focused on creating the conditions for the trick.

The magician should lead his entire point dynamically so that most of his movements must be emphasized and a bit theatrical. He or she should do all this to enhance the trick. These maneuvers should be as subtle as possible to hide the trick in the mass of irrelevant, intense movements.

For that, it’s necessary to acquire a routine in the entire performance so that in the case of delicate movements, the spectators won’t notice that certain bodily gestures of the trick performer are just them doing something mysterious.

Direct Communication

This is closely related to the first piece of advice from the article. It’s from inner self-confidence that a direct way of addressing the viewers should arise. Sentences should be short and fast.

Frequent imperative suggestions such as “Now look at my left hand,” which performs an action of marginal significance for the trick, but which performs the act of misdirection of the audience, allows a short time space for movement with the right hand that no one is looking at that moment.

This advice also includes the fact that the magician should always order the viewers to do something, instead of not doing it, for example: “Don’t look at my left hand.” The general psychic characteristic of people unconsciously suggests that they will focus their concentration on the left hand in this scenario.

This is just like when you explicitly tell a child that they must not do something at all. We all know that this is what a child will do exactly.


To mislead is perhaps the best way is to allow viewers to check the objects over which the trick is taking place.

While they are offered to make sure that the sleeve, box, or hat are empty, they unconsciously turn their attention to precisely the things that the magician suggests are necessary for the trick to make sure that there is no already prepared deception in them.

And, while they examine the inside of a particular object so carefully, they will not notice that magic is happening right before their eyes.


Every renowned magician and illusionist will say this. They selfishly guard their methods by which they successfully perform tricks. Performers have every right to do so since they are the complete authors of their works.

Excessive exposure and disclosure of the mechanism of deception are by no means recommended because there is healthy competition and pronounced vanity in this craft as well. If you have ever seen the movie “Prestige,” you know what we are talking about.

The essence is precisely in that unknown act, and that’s why this mysterious movement of magicians arouses the audience’s enthusiasm. So, magic tricks become famous if they are not talked about.


Unlike politicians who use misdirection to seduce people through the media to realize their unscrupulous desires for profit more easily, magic misdirection is a unique and highly valued skill created in artistic performances.

These are five permanently useful tips for misdirection in magic and undoubtedly practical for any performing tricks.

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