“The hand is quicker than the eye!” announces the bequiffed conjurer. Not always the case. But when using misdirection this can be essential. So what is this mystical technique you hear spoken of by magicians. “Misdirection” is a form of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.
The word “mis-direction” being wrong, direction is what the perform looks for. This can be as he takes your watch with the mundane action of shaking hands. It is this seemingly normal actions that the magician knows. Knowing about human patterns and how people react to different stimulus makes magician able to second guess someone’s actions and then use that as an advantage to use that as cover for something sneaky.
On a deeper level, magic is about another type of distraction. It takes people away from the everyday. The mundane disappears when you are being astonished. Close up magic is so popular at parties because of just this. Parties are about escaping. About forgetting the ordinary and having fun in the moment. Magic is so far from the normal that any thought of day to day life vanishes and you are in the moment experiencing childlike awe.