Ten Psychological Tips for Mentalists

 🕔 4 min


An actor who plays a person who can actually read minds under specific controlled conditions is known as a mentalist. Just as any performer on stage needs to convince his audience that he is believable, he has to fake "believability" for a while. Anything less would be a failure.


1 Relationship with the Audience:

The intimacy between the mentalist and the audience becomes crucial, unlike stage actors playing their parts in a play, most mentalists incorporate spectators into their routines. There are a few subtle psychological tips that can assist you in achieving the required level of credibility and closeness. 


2 Being close is important:

When there is too much physical separation between you and your audience, it becomes an impassable barrier. Aim to operate no farther than five or ten feet away from the front row of onlookers. This usually just means showing up a few minutes early to check the actual arrangements and make any necessary corrections.

3 Engage the Audience Early:

Early on, engage with the whole audience. The audience will respond favourably to their accomplishments. I start with an effect that invites the whole audience participation. I use a Psy force that I will share in the next post. Then, I include more than 25 people in my act. I try to beat the audience to applause each time someone helps by saying something like, "That deserves a big hand!" It not only lifts your volunteer assistant's spirits but also eases the tension of the next volunteer.

4 Avoid Being Too Perfect:

It is not required of you to be a letter perfect. Yes, asking your audience to do that would be excessive. Acknowledge your position by knowing when and how to make mistakes. I always tell my audiences that ESP ability is developed to varying degrees by different people, just like other traits. There will always be some experimenters chosen at random from the audience, some of them more receptive than others,  so "Will you please bear with me if we are not 100 percent successful this evening?" or "Is that close enough?" are always useful pieces of script. For instance, I always include the following in my newspaper predictions: "I predict that the word will be the third word in the third line of the third column of the third page of the paper… the word is (insert word)." I always omit this word by a tiny bit. When it should be singular, I make it plural, and when it should be singular, I make it plural. I omit or include a "ed" or "ing." Alternatively, I might use a word that looks correct but has a different spelling. Compared to when it is accurate, this impact on the audience is superior. I usually ask, "Is that close enough?" to wrap up this effect.

5 Numbers: 

When "receiving" a sequence of numbers, the following digits can be omitted or switched around without lowering one's status: 1/7, 6/9, 3/8. Viewers notice the resemblance right away.

6 The Zero:

A two-digit number can be read as a single digit, or a three-digit number can be "missed" by skipping the zero when "receiving" two or more digits at once and one of them is a zero. Say, for instance, that the number being transmitted is 40. In that case, you could apologise and request a two-digit number. “Well, wait a minute... I get it now! It’s a forty… four, zero. Is that accurate?!. Yes?!” 


7 Miss On Intention:

When recording a long number that is being mentally transmitted to you, like the dollar bill's serial number, you might completely miss one of the digits. The viewer is then abruptly instructed to "go back to the third digit from the right" before the pad is turned towards the audience. "Take another look at it. Look at me now. That's better, I think." Mark the correct digit above the initially missed one by crossing out the original one with a dramatic hand movement. The corrected error will then be noticeable when you finally show the number to the audience.

8 'Mental Conversations':

Try it on someone who seems like having fun. Give him a small smile as you look at him while he is "sending" you a number made up of several digits. His typical response, if you have chosen well, will be to return the smile. The audience will infer that you are conversing mentally with each other. Showmanship at its finest. However, it works! Or a compliment, frown as though you are having a lot of trouble "receiving" a mental impression from an observer. Then, all of a sudden, smile and exclaim, "Wonderful! I understand!" before revealing the thought.

9 Cards Can Be Missed as Well!

It's also possible to miss cards without it hurting your performance. You can name a nine when it should have been an eight or ten, for instance, if you have had a spectator "picture" the card in his mind or "visualise the spots" on the card. The audience will perceive it as possible that transmitting and receiving "spots" could cause some confusion. Similarly, if you name the suit of the same colour, you can correctly determine the card's number or value but miss the suit. Put another way, call spades rather than clubs. or diamonds in place of hearts.

10 Unexpected Reactions:

Ask the audience, "Did anyone else correctly received this card?" after sending or receiving a card. A few audience members will almost always name cards that are on either side of the correct card, and multiple spectators will typically "receive" the same card. Alternatively, they may claim that even though the suit was the same colour, they had the incorrect number. In any case, you can observe that it is common for those "not directly involved in the experiment" to be impacted by the transmission that is occurring! 



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Not too perfect: the old discussion and much may speak for not being 100% correct, but only 92.34%. While reading the headline I just imagined: what if a tiler tiles your bathroom 100% correctly, but next to the mirror: where you always see it every day, he puts a joint wrong, it is slightly offset. if you then confront him he says: of course I could do it 100% and without mistakes, but I didn’t want to be too perfect ;-)


Thanks for sharing these tips, fundamental stuff! I look forward to hearing more!

Jon Terris

I heard David Kaplan (famous juggler known as “the great Kaplan”) tell me a fundamental truth (that so many performers neglect) and your rich article gives a lot of hints on how to create exactly that: “Showmanship is getting people to LIKE you.”


Thanks for taking the time to pass on these gold nuggets! Very helpful and I look forward to the next post! Things like this and the quality products and pricing keeps me coming back!

Tom Senn

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