NLP has been a bit of a buzz word for a good few years in relation to mind reading and mentalism tricks due to the likes of Derren Brown and Cris Angel.
The actual limits of NLP is only known to people who have actually studied it extensively, like myself. Limited is the key word, as people claim to use NLP for just about everything, but us people in the know, understand what you can and cannot do don't we?
That doesn't stop us saying we're using NLP when we're not, but sometimes it's nice to use some real NLP skills to perform our mind reading and mentalism.
So what NLP mind reading tricks are possible? Well I've already talked about how anchors can be used, but there are a few others too.
This one in particular isn't strictly NLP, but it involved reading subtle body language cues so I suppose it counts.
So here's the trick..
You show a spectator 5 playing cards, 4 of them are black number cards and one card is the queen of hearts. There are 2 versions of the trick you can use depending on who you perform it on. To one type of person you say that when they see the queen of hearts they are to think about SEX. To other people you just tell them to think about MONEY.
What you do is show them the queen of hearts first, tell them to think about sex/money. Get them to really think about it while they are staring at the queen of hearts. What this does is anchor the queen of hearts to that emotion.. I'll explain why in a moment.
What you do them is mix the cards face down and one after another show them each card and tell them to think about sex/money when they see the queen of hearts. When you show them each card, make sure you can't see the cards you show, but you need to be able to see their eyes.
Just by looking into their eyes, you can tell which card is the queen of hearts.. how?
Not by the reflection in their eyes. You can tell by their pupils dilating. When people think about sex or money. Their pupils dilate. When I say sex, I mean they need to really think of the act, and when they think about money, they need to imagine they have loads of it around them and to get excited.
So when you show them each card, watch their pupils and you will be able to tell which is the queen of hearts by when their pupils dilate (get bigger).
Try it out, it's a pretty decent little trick and you can even explain how you did it after. It's a good way to use as a build up to a really proper, stronger trick and to make them think you're a real body language expert.
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Having rapport with your audience is a must. I've laid out 3 ways you can use it to enhance your mind reading performance.
What Is rapport?
Rapport is a relationship. A pleasant feeling of mutual trust, affinity and friendship established through verbal and non-verbal means.
When performing to people you don't know, whether they accept you or not is an important factor in whether to effect will do down well or not. There's nothing worse than performing to someone who doesn't like you and wants you to fail. This can bring your mind reading performance to come crashing down and leaving you with a red face.
To make your mentalism and mind reading tricks really successful you need the audience on your side. To get them on your side you need gain rapport with them. I've listed 3 great ways to gain rapport.
1)Mirroring Body Language – a great way to gain report non-verbally is by mirroring the body language of the volunteer. Mirroring is basically copying what the other person is doing with regards to how you are seated, stood, where your hands rest, whether you are cross-legged, slouched, up-right etc. Now you don't want to make this too obvious so a great way to casually mirror the other person is just with small movements that mimic their hand gestures. When they scratch their head – you scratch etc.
2)Use The Same Words – another good way to gain rapport with someone is to copy their dialect, slag or metaphors. You will find when speaking with people that they will use the same words and dialect to describe things. A great way to gain rapport is by using the same words confidently when speaking with them.
3)Match their voice – this is a more advanced strategy and it's used by copying their tone of voice and their rhythm of speech. Some people talk quietly and with a fairly fast rhythm. It's your job to copy them without being someone you're not. If you are a loud and outgoing person and you are dealing with someone who is an introvert and fairly quiet. Take your lively ways a notch down or two. This will gain rapport with them in which you can then slowly get back to being who you are and they will follow suit comfortably.
These tips merely touch the surface on gaining rapport with someone but is a good starting point for any mind reader or mentalist.
Lets get something straight before we continue. When I talk about using NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) in mentalism and magic, I'm not talking about using it in some sort of way to use psychological mind control like some 'mentalism professionals' claim they are using.
I'm not talking about when they 'say' they are using it to influence your decisions when picking a card, a box or just about anything. This isn't actually possible. Don't be fooled by the professional mind reader's or mentalist's false explanation for a trick. You cannot control people with NLP to the extent they say they do. This just isn't possible.
So now we've made that clear lets talk about a method where you CAN use it in a magic tricks. This is to make a crowd reaction stronger. This stuff actually works and will subtly add to your mind reading effects.
I'm talking about using NLP 'Anchors'.
So what is an anchor?
The word anchor comes from NLP whereby when you get an emotional response from someone, whether it is being happy, sad, excited, positive, negative etc. you anchor that emotional response with touch (kinaesthetic anchor), sound (audio anchor) or vision (visual anchor). You can then bring about that emotional response by activating the anchor you set.
Here's an example:
If you casually touch someone's knee every time they laugh, after about the 8th time, you can touch them on the knee when they aren't laughing and they will get a feeling like they want to laugh. You could also use a different type of anchor like a word with a different tone of voice (audio anchor), or a hand gesture (visual anchor) as a more subtle way of anchoring. Or, you can even use them all at the same time to leave a stronger anchor.
This can be abused and it already has been by pick up artists worldwide by using anchors to trick the opposite sex into thinking they have a stronger bond with the person than they really do. If you choose to use anchoring for that reason that is your business but I take no responsibility for your actions.
So how can you use anchoring in magic and mentalism?
There are numerous ways to do this and it really deserves its own book but I will share with you one method..
It's quite simple, every time you perform a trick and the audience reacts with amazement (you need to do a good trick by the way – I recommend an Ultimate Mind Reading trick of course ..) you need to anchor that response. If it's a one on one setting, you can casually touch the spectator on the shoulder every time they react with amazement. Otherwise, if there's a bit of a crowd, you could bang on the table and say a word like “Jesus!”. This will anchor the emotional response of amazement with the crowd.
You can then bring them to a feeling of amazement more easily if after every trick you bang on the table and say “Jesus!”.
This is a subtle way of adding to your mentalism and mind reading tricks and the best anchors are by creating your own which you feel comfortable doing yourself.