Magical Moments

Our magic potion for experience design has 4 ingredients

By | Facilitation, Learning Design, Magical Moments

Our learning experience design methodology is based on the key goal of creating memorable moments for our clients. To do this we harness the power of magic. Then we and add a sprinkle of pride, insight and connection. See how each of these ingredients helps us achieve our goal… 

An experience is many things… it can happen in person or remotely and it makes you think, laugh, learn or be wow’d. It can be a reflection session, team activities, a walk or learning magic tricks. Experiences bring people together, bonding them over a shared moment.

What makes a moment memorable?

Attention, novelty and emotion do. It goes without saying that participants should be engaged and have fun. This paves the way for landing – and embedding – crucial learnings so that the experience lives on. We want people to talk about what they experienced, gush about it even! When that happens, participants become ambassadors for a new way of being or champion bringing new company values to life. And when that happens, we know we’ve succeeded in creating a memorable moment. 

One workshop can’t change everything, but it can kick start a new way of thinking about work and a new perspective on peoples’ roles within their company. Imagine the power of many moments!

Where do we start?

Before designing an experience, our learning designers ask…

  • How can we use the power of magic to elevate everyday moments and bring learning to life?
  • How might the experiences we create help people feel proud by breaking their limiting beliefs?
  • How might we spark insights for people to develop their self- and social awareness?
  • How might we cultivate deeper connections between people?

Elevate learning

Psychological research suggests that learning to perform magic tricks can create a wide range of benefits, including enhanced creativity (Wiseman, Wiles & Watt, 2021), and boosted social skills and self-esteem (Bagienski & Kuhn, 2019). Moreover, magic-based interventions show that magic tricks can be used to effectively communicate about a variety of topics, delivering educational messages in an entertaining way (Wiseman & Watt, 2018). Likewise, performing magic tricks helps communicate specific concepts in organisational behaviour (Krell & Dobson, 1999). There’s a lot of psychology behind the use of magic!

Ignite pride

We want people to feel valued, listened to and appreciated. In turn, they come to understand and appreciate colleagues in ways they may not have before. Participants leave our sessions with a renewed sense of joy and pride in their work. And what’s the long tail of feeling proud at work? Increased loyalty, championing the company, a better sense of community and belonging, and feeling more motivated. Ta-da! 

Unlock insights

When we start working with clients, we take time to understand what’s going on for them, particularly why they need a learning experience. We ask – why now, what’s the challenge they’re facing, who is this for, how do they want participants to feel afterwards, what should they have learned… Questions questions! The more we understand, the better we can get to the heart of what matters, designing an experience that hits the mark and provides insight – about participants, about their team, about their work and about the organisation as a whole. Abracademy workshops are always fun, but the insights participants leave with are truly magical. Who needs a crystal ball?!

Connect people

You’ve read this a thousand times in recent months – now more than ever, keeping colleagues connected is crucial. Whether it’s new joiners who have yet to meet colleagues properly or existing team members, making sure people know and understand one another will prevent a mind-blowing array of communication problems… Doubts that become toxic, questions that never get answered, questions that shouldn’t need asking, only receiving feedback when something goes wrong, not knowing what anyone else is doing, not having the most recent updates. The list is long. We bring people together as colleagues and as human beings. Our personal lives can affect how we show up at work so if you know your colleagues well, you’ll have more empathy and be a stronger team. We enable connections between people that continue long after the workshops have finished!

Here’s some more resources on experience design that you might find interesting:



  • Bagienski, S., & Kuhn, G. (2019). The crossroads of magic and wellbeing: A review of wellbeing-focused magic programs, empirical studies, and conceivable theories. International Journal of Wellbeing, 9(2), 41-65.
  • Heath, D. and Heath, C. (2019). The Power of Moments. Random House UK.
  • Krell, T. C., & Dobson, J. J. (1999). The use of magic in teaching organizational behavior. Journal of Management Education, 23(1), 44-52.
  • Wiseman, R., & Watt, C. (2018). Achieving the impossible: a review of magic-based interventions and their effects on wellbeing. PeerJ, 6, e6081.
  • Wiseman, R., Wiles, A., & Watt, C. (2021). Conjuring up creativity: the effect of performing magic tricks on divergent thinking. PeerJ, 9, e11289.

Jaxx can capture your L&D dreams!

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Sara Ramos

By | Facilitation, Magical Moments, Magilitator, Team

Sara Ramos

Community Wizard


Sara is passionate about learning and bringing people together to create impactful shared experiences. In her eagerness to challenge the status quo, Sara seeks alternative ways to learn, work, live and relate to others.

She designs meaningful learning experiences and creates the conditions for great collaboration. She achieves that by holding space for others, asking questions and allowing collective intelligence to emerge.

She works as a freelance Learning Designer and Facilitator, and hosts a podcast called Learning Day: https://learningday.community

Sara's superpowers:

★ Creating safe spaces

★ Singing

★ Productive procrastination


We’re a diverse team of magicians, facilitators, learning designers, strategists, communicators, scientists and creatives who love what we do at Abracademy ♥

Meet the team

"Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless"

Walidah Imarisha

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Alex Lyons

By | Facilitation, Magical Moments, Magilitator, Team

Alex Lyons

Word Wizard


Alex facilitates communication and connection wherever its needed most. Nothing matters more to him than being true to who we say we are. He has a background as a media, communications and culture specialist, TEDx host and speaker coach, and an equity, diversity & inclusion consultant. Alex blooms most when helping others to bring integrity and heart into their words. Fair warning though, Alex will talk your ear off about the worlds and works of Ursula K Le Guin or everything Wonder Woman has taught him about the power of love to change the world ⚡💖

Alex's superpowers:

★ Warm grins

★ Wise words

★ Wonderful clarity


We’re a diverse team of magicians, facilitators, learning designers, strategists, communicators, scientists and creatives who love what we do at Abracademy ♥

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"Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless"

Walidah Imarisha

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By | Magical Moments, Magicians, Magilitator, Team




A graduate in Communication and Body Arts currently living and working in São Paulo, Brasil.

Malerbi believes in the power of magic. He believes that every trick is a metaphor wanting to be recognised.

Contrary to popular belief, magic isn't about fooling people. In fact, it can inform by revealing hidden information. We humans are already being fooled... our senses and preconceptions misdirect us. And we're blissfully unaware of it! By causing little shocks and surprises, magic questions our senses and can reveal our blind spots.

Malerbi's superpowers:

🎩 Listening

🎩 Connecting everything

🎩 Metaphors


We’re a diverse team of magicians, facilitators, learning designers, strategists, communicators, scientists and creatives who love what we do at Abracademy ♥

Meet the team

"Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless"

Walidah Imarisha

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Ward van Laer

By | Magical Moments, Magicians, Magilitator, Team

Ward van Laer

Machine Magic


As well as being a magician, Ward is a machine learning engineer and speaker. He has with experience in computer-vision, detection on time-series and NLP. He likes to agonise over the possibilities of explainable AI and AI interpretability 😄

Read his posts about machine learning on Medium / @ward.vanlaer

Ward's superpowers are:

  • Machine magic
  • Data
  • Insight


We’re a diverse team of magicians, facilitators, learning designers, strategists, communicators, scientists and creatives who love what we do at Abracademy ♥

Meet the team

"Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless"

Walidah Imarisha

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Sonia Benito

By | Education, Fashion, Magical Moments, Magicians, Magilitator, Schools, Team

Sonia Benito

Spanish Trickster

Magician and dancer

"I think magic can be created anywhere. We are therefore surrounded by moments that make us question the impossible"

Originating from Spain, Sonia is now based in London bringing something new to the magic scene. She blurs the lines between classic and modern magic techniques adding in unique movement patterns.

Sonia has worked with us many times including the MURAL Maze and the Royal Museums Greenwich project with young women.

Sonia's superpowers are:

🗲 Tutting

🗲 Effortless style!

🗲 Making modern magic 


We’re a diverse team of magicians, facilitators, learning designers, strategists, communicators, scientists and creatives who love what we do at Abracademy ♥

Meet the team

"Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless"

Walidah Imarisha

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Vanessa Faloye

By | Belief, Curiosity, Education, Facilitation, Magical Moments, Magilitator, Team

Vanessa Faloye

The Enchantress


Vanessa works with change-making organisations to design and deliver social justice education, and strategy. Together, they challenge and transform systems of power by dismantling the intersectional inequities that uphold them. As a trainer-facilitator, she delivers curricula in anti-oppression, movement-building and systems thinking.

Her big dream is to build an activist training ground in Spain that invites retreat, resource and rehearsal for the revolution, through critical pedagogy, transformative justice and healing practice. Needless to say, Vanessa’s got big plans when it comes to our collective liberation and a non-binary world. A world where we all get to show up as our whole, free, joyous and magical selves.

In other news, Vanessa loves reading, writing, traveling, dancing, mixing music, speaking Spanish, Chinese takeaway, odd socks and Bollywood. She's originally from Nigeria. Born and raised in London, and grew up in Oxford, UK. Her favourite food is her Mum's jollof rice. "Thank God it's vegan".

Vanessa's superpowers are:

  • Empathy
  • Determination 
  • Laughter


We’re a diverse team of magicians, facilitators, learning designers, strategists, communicators, scientists and creatives who love what we do at Abracademy ♥

Meet the team

"Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless"

Walidah Imarisha

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Francisco Dimitri

By | Belief, Curiosity, Education, Facilitation, Food for thought, Leadership, Learning and development, Magical Moments, Magilitator, Team, Wonder

Francisco Dimitri

Abracademy collaborator

Specialist in Wonder

Francesco is an award-winning author, a speaker and trainer, and a business storyteller. He's been writing in many different forms, from nonfiction and essays to fiction, comics, cinema, digital media and for magazines.

Francesco's superpowers are:

  • Telling stories
  • Lighting fires 
  • Searching and researching


We’re a diverse team of magicians, facilitators, learning designers, strategists, communicators, scientists and creatives who love what we do at Abracademy ♥

Meet the team

"With the hybrid world of work, the model we should study is online dating! Here, obnoxious people can seem fine, and vice versa. We need to train ourselves to spot different cues in online interactions."


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A look back at 2020

By | Belief, Curiosity, Food for thought, Leadership, Learning and development, Magical Moments, Magicians, Team, Wonder

In November we took a trip through a virtual maze to look back at 2020 together as a team. Here’s what we found on our way to the heart of the labyrinth…

2020 started normally. Refreshed after a break, we were looking forward to what the new year would bring. In early February we looked into our crystal ball. “It’s time for a team get together – a week in London, all together, to make plans and strategise“, said someone. It’s almost as if we knew what was coming…

That same week we took the opportunity to launch our magical magazine, The World Needs Magic, at Mama Shelter. They’ve never had so many magicians in their bar. Ever. We lost count of how many playing cards appeared in unexpected places that evening. Later in February, the magicians travelled to another dimension, aka the Blackpool Magic Convention. Who knows what they got up to, but they came back with new tricks up their sleeves. We then delivered a couple of Open Workshops and we worked with Sony, and Netflix.

“An excellent start to the year”, we said. “Can’t wait to see what’s next…”

March 2020

Coronavirus hits the UK and everything changes.

Our team was already partially remote so that aspect of lockdown was less of a shock for us. Nonetheless, it was the start of many challenges for Abracademy, personal and professional. The immediate hit for us was not being able to deliver sessions in person and clients cancelling workshops. Overnight, everything fell off a cliff. Making sure that you are always connected during this time can take its toll, there is always worries but in the face of something like this it can be tenfold. It was important that internet signals were high and so were spirits, that is why things like suddenlink internet plans, or something similar to it, was needed for everyone to keep in contact and communicating.

We had to completely re-think what we do. How do we pivot? How do we deliver what we do online and still make it magical, meaningful, and engaging? We had already been contemplating online delivery, but now we had to figure it out. Fast.

Spring 2020

Step 1 of pivot. We adapt one of our most popular Magical Moments – Unleash Imagination – for online delivery. We test it in a virtual Open Workshop. And it works! Participants stay engaged and we get great feedback, which, of course, we use to refine and improve the session.

Online events started popping up like bunnies out of hats. Rubens takes part in a House of Beautiful Business event and does a talk at FCB Brazil. Never ones to lag behind, we also launch our webinar, The World Needs Magic. Taking advantage of our talented network, Rubens invites a weekly guest chat with him. We want to highlight the magic of people, showing how resilient and adaptable we are when we need to be. Like now…

Meanwhile, we polish up another session for virtual delivery, Raising Resilience this time. It felt very relevant, something almost everyone needed more of. And we deliver our first client workshops, for Thomas More University and Echo in Belgium. The university, like many institutions, had shifted all their learning programmes online. They felt a need for creative sparks and ways to brainstorm together, online. We ran Unleash Imagination with them – the perfect session to unlock creative problem solving.

In May, we said goodbye to Julie and we decide to let go of our office at Containerville. Sad times, but we bid both a fond farewell and embrace the good times we’ve had.

Summer 2020

No basking in the sunshine for us! Well, a little bit of outdoor working perhaps 👆

In June, we organise a team day. We’ve been in firefighting mode since March so it feels like a good time to pause, reflect and plan. Katy and Priya put all their energy into strategy, structure and process. We establish monthly quests to stay agile and responsive, given all the uncertainty.

The Magic of Teams is ready for online delivery – ninja L&D skills from the learning design team! We deliver Raising Resilience to Start It KBC in Belgium. Having benefitted so much from that programme, it was great to give them something back. We also start planning Bridging the Impossible – a symposium combining the science of magic and wellbeing (with Goldsmiths / Magic Lab).

July was unexpectedly busy, but some of us manage staycations. Rubens delivers a talk to a huge university audience in Brazil. We deliver to Netflix again, yay! They introduce us to SumUp (who we eventually work with in November). And we start working with Unilever on Unite4Growth, an internal innovation programme. We also pitch to Montezuma. Time for some sweet, sweet magic…

In August, we take advantage of a little down time to make podcasts from the webinars. We also challenge ourselves with a design sprint for a scalable product. And last, but not least, we deliver a session to Civicus in South Africa. They’re a human rights organisation doing incredible work (check out how you can support their campaigns).

Jules’ gorgeous new kittens 👇

September 2020

Our lead generation campaigns pay off! Lots of potential new clients are conjured up, including Spotify. We do workshops with the students at The Farnborough Academy. Our friend and frequent collaborator, Sonia Benito worked with us on those. She’s a dynamo, an inspiration and brilliant with young people.

Rubens took part in an EduJam, we delivered to Netflix teams around the globe and held a couple of Open Workshops online. We also did our first sessions with Spotify. Not just one session mind you. Five sessions, delivered simultaneously to five teams! 😲 Ta-da!

Did we take on too much this month?! Maybe, but it was amazing and sometimes you do your best work when you push yourself out of your comfort zone.

👇 That’s Katy’s Faces in Magical Places

October 2020

October is Mental Health Awareness month and we had the great pleasure of working with Mind again. We also started workshops at Carthage College in the US – supporting student wellbeing. Continuing the theme, Geoff MacDonald was one of our fantastic webinar guests this month. He talked very frankly about his own mental health journey and [email protected] Listen to Geoff’s full conversation – it’s very moving.

We also worked with the London Business School again. It’s great to work with clients on a longer term basis and see the growth in people. We deliver to the Spotify Soundtrap team. And Rubens does a talk at the Brazilian Space Agency 🚀 Our crystal ball definitely didn’t see that one coming!

Three big future-facing things happen too: 1) we ignite the hiring process for a new team member, 2) we pitch to Google and 3) Miro champion the boards we created for online sessions. As well as being in their Miroverse, we’re also featured as Miro Experts. We are beyond delighted! Miro’s helped us bring our online sessions to life in a whole new way.

👇 Our map of 2020 magic

November 2020

November brings another major lockdown. It’s not great for anyone’s mental health, but luckily client work keeps us busy. A project with Spotify NY starts, and we work with two more great organisations, Young Scot and SumUp (we were introduced to them by our Spotify client 👌 – new business at its best). We also continue to work with Unilever and the Unite4Growth winners. The client has scaled the project and take us with them on the journey. This means global deliveries and 6am workshops with Asia! No complaints here – just a sleepy delivery team come UK lunchtime… 💤

December 2020

No pre-Christmas slow down for us. This month we’ve worked with Unilever, Minds At Work, This Place, Rock Your Life!, Pfizer, more Unilever, Zinc VC and RCKT.

We manage a little Christmas get together on Zoom to celebrate the year’s achievements. We’re exhausted. But happy. But exhausted. We play, we chat, we drink cocktails out of cans. We’re now in the middle of a two week break. Bliss. We’ll be in pyjamas hugging our magical bunnies, making 💤s appear.

Below is a little video we made earlier in the year. We were playing with Zoom communications, trying to bring joy to being online all day!

How was your 2020?

As you can see, ours was eventful. We don’t think we could have predicted most of what happened during 2020 – good and bad. Like many, we faced challenges that were scary and difficult to navigate. But also, we blossomed in unexpected ways. That’s partly because we seized the opportunity to work fast and adapt to the moment – unlocking something we’d been meaning to do, but kept postponing. It’s also partly because other companies did the same. So it felt like there was a mutual window of opportunity that we jumped through. To be able to close 2020 with clients like Spotify, Netflix and Unilever is real magic

We’re very grateful to be here, celebrating the end of the year and welcoming 2021. We’ll hang onto that an agile mindset though… just in case.

Want to kickstart 2021 with your team?

Get in touch


Blackpool Magic Convention: where magicians go down the rabbit hole once a year

Brazilian Space Agency: 🚀

Bridging the Impossible: a symposium to explore the science of magic and wellbeing

Carthage College: supporting the wellbeing of their students with Abracademy workshops

Civicus: a truly great organisation supporting human rights campaigners and campaigns

Containerville: the place we called home, where we stirred the cauldron and conjured ideas 💡

Echo: Belgian marketing and storytelling agency

EduJam: an educational response to the pandemic, providing skills, tools and community

Farnborough Academy: they embraced magic to develop the soft skills of their students

FCB Brazil: global advertising agency

Geoff MacDonald: ex Unilever HR, and mental health advocate

Goldsmiths: University of London

House of Beautiful Business: a think tank for making humans more human + business more beautiful

Julie Donckers: friend and alumni

London Business School: embracing magic to support their student community wellbeing

Magic Research Lab: our friends and collaborators in magic, and the science of magic

Mama Shelter: where we spent our team week and launched the magazine in February pre 😷

Mind: the UK mental health charity

[email protected]: co-founded by Geoff 👆

Miro: fantastic collaborative whiteboard tool, online!

Miro Experts: featuring Abracademy… thank you 😉

Miroverse: projects, workflows and templates from the Miro community (Houdini’s Locks, Faces in Magical Places and Hidden Truths by yours truly)

Montezuma: they make chocolate. Need we way more?

Netflix: surely we don’t have to explain this lot!?

Pfizer: 💉👏

RCKT: digital innovation brought to you from Germany

Rock Your Life: a mentor network supporting vulnerable young people in Germany

Sonia Benito: magician and dancer extraordinaire

Soundtrap: Spotify’s everywhere studio for music makers

Spotify: needs no explanation 🎧

Start It @KBC: start-up accelerator in Belgium

SumUp: set to become the first ever global card acceptance brand

This Place: a digital retail agency

Thomas More: school of applied sciences, Belgium

Unilever: many fingers in many pies, parent to several B Corp brands

Zinc: venture capital with a heart

Young Scot: travel, information, support and discounts for young people in Scotland


Abracademy links

The World Needs Magic, webinar: weekly doses of inspiration with special guests

The Magic of Teams: a virtual offsite workshop to spark the magic of your people

The World Needs Magic, podcasts: if you didn’t catch the webinars, listen to the podcasts

Open Workshops: personal development workshops open to all

Tips: how to make remote workshops excellent 💥

By | Education, Food for thought, Learning and development, Magical Moments, Magicians, Music, Team

We’ve learned a few unexpected ways to make remote meetings and workshops a great and human experience. Apart from the usual video call etiquette that you’ve no doubt learned recently, how about…

  • Hiding self view
  • Unmuting everyone
  • Creating virtual magic

Self view

We’ve probably all looked at our own faces far more than is healthy in recent months! Hiding self view allows you to focus much more on other participants. Less Is my hair really that straggly? and more I never knew that, very interesting indeed. Heed this warning however: don’t forget you’re on camera. Everyone can still see you even though you can’t! No nose-picking, texting on the side or stuffing your face with a sandwich and wearing it for the rest of the call…


The generally agreed protocol is that everyone should stay on mute unless they’re talking. This cuts out all unnecessary background noise and allows whoever is speaking to be heard by all. But it’s fun to create a little audio chaos and allow everyone to talk at the same time. We guarantee it will liven things up. You can have a lively debate, like in real life. Remember that?!

Magical energisers

Obviously we perform and teach magic in our sessions. But magicians never spill their secrets, so you’ll have to get in touch with us for this one. We’ll send you a video of one of our magical energisers. You must watch it and then destroy it 😉 (leave your name in the comments or contact us directly).

Less unexpected, but still worth mentioning. Here are some more tips to help remote connections feel good.

Hand signals

When you’re on mute and you want to say something without interrupting the speaker, devise a visual language that suits your company. We had fun creating ours: see our video below 👇


We have various Spotify playlists ready to go. Integrating music into meetings and workshops creates energy and sets different moods. Use quiet, non-verbal music when people need to talk or think. And something more lively to perk people up at the start or during breaks.


What a great invention Miro is! A virtual white board with sticky notes you can scribble on. We use it all the time for both client workshops and internal sessions. The best thing about it is that it’s visually familiar so needs little instruction. Plus it allows everyone to get involved. People can share thoughts and ideas, vote and doodle. No more zoning out during long meetings! 

And finally, Spotlight

This Zoom function pins one person as the primary active speaker for everyone on the call. This is really useful when you want people to focus on the speaker and hear reactions to important information. We also use it when the magicians are performing. That way they stay in the spotlight without anyone having to tweak screens and miss crucial magic-making secrets.

All of these tips add up to fun and engaging online experiences. If you have more, we’d love to know what they are. Share @abracademy 🙋

Let us make your virtual off-site magical!

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