I posted this else ware but I thought since I'm new to this forum I'll make my first post here something I hope will be helpful to someone.
Picture this. You're sitting in an audience waiting for the show to begin. The Emcee introduces the first act. The magician enters the room from the rear and walks through he audience to the stage.
You see the magician come in from the back of the room. He has a very open smile on his face and his head is held high. As he walks though the audience he's making eye contact with people and smiling at them. He makes small comments to people such as, "Hey, nice suit." or "Good to see you.". He shakes hands with a few people and is just very open, energetic and friendly. His confidence is evident in his posture and openness. He makes it to the stage and the applaud is still going. He turns to face the crowd and with arms spread wide he thanks the audience for their applaud and gives them a little bow. The applaud finally dies down and he goes on with his act.
The magician enters the room from the rear. He has no smile on his face and his head is slightly angled toward the floor and his eyes are on nothing but the stage he's heading to. He makes eye contact with no one and as he walks by and doesn't say a word. You can tell that the only thing on his mind is getting to the stage to begin his act. The applaud has stopped before he's half way to the stage. When he makes it to the stage in silence he pulls out the prop for his opening routine.
From here on out both the above shows are exactly the same. The same tricks are performed in the same level of ability. They even use the same patter and the same presentations. Which of the above acts do you think you'd enjoy the most? I'm pretty sure the first one would have grabbed your attention if you could visualize it actually happening. What I'm hoping this illustrates is the fact that the show does not begin the moment you perform your first trick. It in fact begins the moment the audience sees you.
This is what I call the entrance and I believe it's the most important part of any show. The moment you see someone you instantly begin to form an opinion of them. This is something that everyone does and there's no way to avoid it. I'm sure you've seen people and right away you had a feeling you would either like or dislike them. Your first opinion may not always be correct but it'll still form in your mind.
Another advantage with a strong entrance is that the rest of your act will likely be more successful even if things go wrong. Could you imagine if during the above Example A performers show he messed up a trick. He's in a better position to move on after the mistake for all he has to do is connect with that high energy and friendly atmosphere he created when he entered the room. However if the Example B performer makes a mistake the audience is less likely to be as forgiving and laugh "at him" rather then "With him".
The entrance is important in any performance no matter how big or small the audience is. For example if you're strolling a restaurant. Your entrance isn't the moment you approach a table. The entrance actually takes place the moment you enter the room. Imagine walking through a restaurant like the performer did in Example A above. He enters the room with a smile on his face and making eye contact with people. Making small comments to people as he walks by and shaking hands. He's not even performing yet. He's just greeting his guests (They are his guests if he's hired to perform there). With a good entrance it's very easy to approach a table and start performing because they've already started to develop a good opinion of you.
It's also important to realize that the entrance can last any length of time. It last from the moment they first see you until the show actually begins. I've had entrances last for hours. For example one time I was hired to perform at a super bowl party. I was to perform a show during half time. Of course you never know what time that'll actually come so my entrance lasted for a couple of hours during the game. I had all that time to meet the guests and get them to form a positive opinion of me.
Now I'm not saying that you should always have a high energy entrance. That is something you'll have to decide based on your performing style and the atmosphere you want to create. But you should put as much thought into your entrance as you do the rest of your show.