More so than other arts, Mentalism is deeply dependent on its foundational techniques. Mentalism techniques either make or break a successful performer and their number, complexity and effectiveness is a step above when compared to other schools of “magic”.
In order to master them you’ll need to read quite a lot, learn new theories and concepts and most of all – practice them constantly. One special trait that sets them apart is that they’re incredibly versatile and useful in all facets of life, not just for shows and performances. They can absolutely revolutionize your personal and professional life by giving you a stunning edge in any interaction.
You’ll understand why as we go deeper into the essential mentalism techniques below.
In order to read, influence or manipulate people, you’ve got to understand how they think, why they think and what they think. By reading up on basic psychology, you’ll start to get few essential keys into people’s minds and what goes on inside them.
You’ll learn patterns, statistics and other knowledge that’s absolutely unmissable if you want to delve into mentalism. A basic, at the very least, understanding of psychology is required in order for you to fully comprehend and know how to apply the other techniques.
The most versatile and potent technique out of all, reading someone like an open book quickly and effectively is a trademark trait of an expert Mentalist. It allows you to know what they’re thinking, in a way, as it gives you insight into what they’re feeling based on their non-verbal cues.
By learning how to read and analyse these tell-tale signs from microexpressions to unconscious body movement and other reactions, you’ll be able to quickly determine if a person’s lying as well as knowing their true feelings about anything you say or do. It’s extremely powerful and useful not only to blow people’s minds while performing tricks but also to be in control of any conversation and interaction you have throughout your life.
This one, maybe more than any other technique on the list, requires enormous practice in order to perform it successfully.
Incredibly fun and stunningly powerful, these two complementing techniques are a force to be reckoned with. While misdirection gives you control over what the audience looks at and focuses on – making them oblivious to whatever you’re actually doing – suggestion comes in and forces any thought you want into their heads without them ever realizing it.
It can be a number, a letter, a color, a word or even a complex combination of all, giving you direct access to their minds. You can do this by saying specific things, asking specific questions or doing specific hand motions, all of which contribute to implanting something you want into your target’s subconscious.
Just by this description alone you can probably imagine how ridiculously powerful and effective this technique is. This is why a Mentalist is capable of guessing your thoughts, also called “mind reading”. A super popular trick, just to give you a concrete example, is the “Elephant Trick”, where by asking you a specific set of questions, you’ll be “forced” to think about the phrase “Grey elephant from Norway” in the end. This allows the Mentalist to either say what you’re thinking and leave you in awe or he can even write it beforehand and let you open up the paper, blowing your mind in the process.
A more hands-on, practical version of the combo seen above, sleight of hand is one of the oldest techniques in the books of any close-up magician or performer. Essentially, it teaches you how to manipulate objects and other items in a way that the audience doesn’t notice the change, allowing you to make things seemingly disappear and appear at will.
As you can probably imagine, when this technique is mastered it makes for pretty insane performances where a Mentalist will “make the impossible happen”. One of my favorite renditions of a classic Sleight of Hand routine was and is made by a stunningly talented artist – Chris Hannibal. He also offers amazing theatrics and puts a true sense of charm into everything, making it all the more unforgettable and enjoyable for the audience.
Watch it below and try to catch his sleight of hand – he even tells you exactly what he’s doing.
The string that ties everything together, theatrics are what makes all the other techniques look smooth, genuine and truly mesmerizing. It encompasses your acting skills, your charisma and your performance. Not only do you have to give everything you do a personal, unique twist if you want to be successful, but you also have to make it work.
You need to make everything you do is believable, you need to ensure that your movements are smooth, your tricks subtle and your impact unforgettable. While you can read some great tips and guides on how to perform well, it all comes down to confidence. And confidence can only be achieved by believing in yourself and by being sure of your own skills and abilities which is something that can only be obtained by practicing, practicing again and then practicing some more.
Own your knowledge, your skills and yourself and you’ll be unstoppable.
To learn more about the art and become an expert mentalist yourself, be sure to read the guide below:
As you’ve certainly noticed by now, mentalism techniques are a bit more in both quantity and complexity than most other schools of magic. Even then, it’s absolutely worth learning and the rewards far outweigh the amount of hard work you need to put in.