By Sarah Jamieson
Forget your antiquated notions about hypnotism—Ricky Kalmon needs no dangling watches or singsong voices to mesmerize a room full of people. The St. Louis native is taking his own special breed of entertainment therapy to convention halls, meeting spaces and ballrooms, helping corporate America communicate better and build team fellowship.
Kalmon combines hypnosis with direct audience participation to create shows that entertain and inspire, even produce what he calls a “subconscious makeover.” He’s cultivated a growing business in corporate entertainment and keynote speaking, but he’ll also help you use principles of hypnosis to motivate your team, improve interaction with your colleagues, even shore up your golf game.
Kalmon now lives in Atlanta with his family but he can be seen weekly on his TV Guide Channel show, “Seeing Stars.” His self-improvement CDs help clients use positive thinking to better many areas of their lives, including stress reduction, smoking cessation—even a program for golfers who need their own “subconscious makeover.”
Kalmon operates on the principle that improving your outlook, energy and motivation requires daily commitment and attention. He’s been practicing hypnosis for more than 20 years, starting out as a comedy performer at fairs, festivals and other gatherings. He says it wasn’t long before he recognized the value of hypnosis in helping people relax their minds and bodies so they can focus on improving their attitudes and emotions.
“I’ve been through several types of training, but there’s no real degree you can receive in hypnosis,” Kalmon says. “My real education has been in working with people.”
In the mid-1990s, he began taking his show to the corporate circuit, showing clients how their employees can better relate to one another through increased communication. At each corporate meeting he headlines, no matter the size, Kalmon invites 12 volunteers from the crowd to come on stage and be hypnotized.
His program kicks off with an “ice-breaker” show, then he presents keynote training using his subconscious makeover techniques.
Engaging the audience
Kalmon first takes his on-stage participants through a five-minute hypnotic induction; then the show really gets on the road.
Each part of show lasts about an hour. During the opening “fun” portion, participants may be “transformed” into celebrities, animals, dance contestants or talk show hosts. Kalmon may suggest to them that they are sumo wrestlers, have won the lottery or can see flying squirrels. While participants are under the hypnotic influence, a stack of napkins may serve as a pile of cash, or the stage may become a dance floor.
Whatever the theme, the entire audience is swept up in the on-stage participants’ experience. Then, during the later portion of the show, they learn how to use hypnosis techniques to improve personal and company performance and attitudes, reduce stress and interact more effectively with colleagues and customers.
Kalmon says he customizes each show to the client’s business or industry, so no two performances are alike. He makes sure all his presentations are tasteful, thought-provoking and fun for participants. “I don’t embarrass anyone or single them out,” he says. “It’s about turning strangers into friends. It’s amazing to see that transformation in people.”
From the client’s perspective
“Ricky absolutely captivated our entire audience,” says Marc Rosenberg, chief operating officer for Marcus Evans of New York, about a recent presentation Kalmon did for his event and training company. “It comprised CFOs from Fortune 1000 companies as well as CEOs and heads of sales from leading solution provider firms. His performance went beyond entertaining to downright mesmerizing. He had the audience in stitches, rolling over with laughter, while demonstrating his incredible powers of persuasion.
“Had the participants not been taken from our own audience, no one including myself would have believed it was real,” Rosenberg says. “Those who participated all loved the experience and awoke to feel relaxed, calm and not at all embarrassed—albeit surprised—by the things they did on stage.”
Allison Nunes, a Phoenix-based director of event marketing for BCD Travel, says her company has hired Kalmon to present at 250-person and 700-person conferences.
“Ricky always spends time discussing my objectives, the group’s demographic and his game plan for the evening,” she says. “I love that he talks directly to his clients instead of through a third party agent.
“He also spends time with the group after the show and answers any questions the audience or participants have,” she says.
Kalmon says many of his clients are sales and management organizations, customer service teams and meeting planning groups. “The show is about focusing your effort to influence an outcome,” he says. “You can apply that to any type of industry.”
Kalmon will only book a speaking engagement if the client agrees to the ice-breaking entertainment segment that comes before the “work-related” part of his presentation. The two go hand in hand, he says. The entertainment portion is an important way of putting participants at ease and opening their minds to new ideas.
“Subconscious awareness is the key to success,” Kalmon says. “Hypnosis can be done by anyone. You do it to yourself every day when you decide what your attitudes and emotions will be.
“If my words can transform people, why shouldn’t their own? Words are magic. You’re your own most powerful hypnotist.”
(Sarah Jamieson is the Editorial Assistant from St. Louis, Mo.)
Kalmon Productions, LLC