In this post you’re going to learn how to become a mentalist, even if you have ZERO experience in magic.
Mentalism is seriously powerful. You can fool hundreds of people into believing you have crazy mental abilities with the simplest of tricks—and trust us, we have!
In this blog post we’re going to teach you EXACTLY how to become a mentalist in five simple steps.
- Step 1: Learn Mentalism
- Step 2: Practice, Practice, Practice
- Step 3: Connect With Like Minded Magicians
- Step 4: Invest In Your Success
- Step 5: A Formula For The Years Ahead…
How to Become A Mentalist – Step 1: Learn Mentalism
Learning mentalism is a lot like learning the guitar.
When learning the guitar, you don’t dive straight into the deep end and master a COMPLETE song in one shot. Instead, you begin by learning each individual chord in the song. Once you’ve mastered these chords, you can piece them together in thousands of different ways.
It’s almost exactly the same when you learn mentalism. You don’t start out by trying to read 10 people’s mind at once…it isn’t possible. Instead, you start by learning the basic techniques—or ‘chords’. You’ll use them to piece together an infinite number of routines and effects—your ‘songs’!
Before we start, I want to get something clear. When we talk about ‘basic’ techniques, we don’t mean ‘easy’ techniques.
‘Basic’ means VITAL.
In fact, the ‘basic’ techniques you’re about to learn are the same methods that top professional mentalists use every day. They are the foundation for almost every possible effect in mentalism.
Here’s how this is going to work…
First we’re going to reveal the most popular and most essential EFFECTS in mentalism. These are your different kinds of ‘songs.’
Then we’re going to explain the exact TECHNIQUES you need to know to do them—think of these as the ‘chords’ we would need to learn if we wanted to master a song.
Then we’ll talk about all the different secret DEVICES that allow you to do so. These are your ‘instruments’ that allow you to play that same song.
Finally, we’ll talk about a few PERFORMATIVE devices that will help you strengthen these tricks. Don’t worry if that sounds confusing right now—it will soon make sense!
Let’s get right into it…
Mentalism Effects…the ‘freaky’ bit!
These are the effects that will give you a reputation as a master mind-reader…
Telekinetic Demonstrations (Spoon Bending, PK Touches)
Another classic effect of mentalism is the idea that the mentalist can use the power of their mind to move or levitate objects—or even bend metal.
One of the most common telekinetic demonstrations is spoon-bending. The mentalist first displays (or even borrows!) an ordinary spoon, and then uses only the power of their mind to bend it in half!
These are some of the most popular effects of mentalism, and you’ll definitely want to learn them.
Of course, this list only scratches the surface. There so many mentalism effects, it would be almost impossible to cover them all.
Perhaps the first thing most people think of when you say ‘mentalism’. This is a classic staple of mentalism – telling your spectator exactly what is going on in their head; a word they’re thinking of, a memory they’re concentrating on, a city or location they want to visit.
This is an incredibly powerful effect; and of course, there are hundreds of ‘sub genres’ of this overall effect, but this is more or less what a lot of them come down to. Many mentalists don’t like to use the words ‘mind-reading’, but let’s not get caught up in the semantics. The effects are very similar.
Folks – it’s mind reading. It’s amazing. What else is there to say?
Forces are absolutely KEY to mentalism.
What is a force?
A force is more or less what it sounds like. A mentalist’s ability to manipulate any given situation into resulting in a predetermined outcome. Great mentalists literally ‘force’ a particular result, under the guise of giving their audience a free choice.
In the majority of cases, a mentalist will use a ‘force’ to manipulate a spectator into choosing something they want them to pick. At the same time, they make it appear to be a free choice.
This technique underpins a HUGE range of tricks. But how do you do it? There are hundreds of different methods. Some mentalists prefer psychological forces, others use simple sleight of hand.
Want to learn some of our favorite forces for FREE? Click here.
Many effects within mentalism rely on this technique. In fact, it’s so integral—you’ll want to put it at the top of your priority list when you start learning.
What is a peek?
Peeks are techniques which allow you to secretly glimpse hidden information in a way that is invisible to the spectator.
For example, you might ask your spectator to write down a word on a piece of paper. Using a peek, you could get a secret look at that word without ever alerting your audience to the fact. After that, all you need to do is ‘read’ their mind to reveal the word!
One of the most effective peeks is the ‘Center Tear’—an invisible sleight that allows you to view any secret informationyour spectator writes down.
As a general rule, we don’t advise going out of your way to buy expensive effects or props. Some of the most powerful magic you can perform you can do either impromptu or using very minimalist props and gimmicks.
In fact, while you are learning mentalist, you might be on a low budget. No worries; you can do A LOT of magic with very little equipment. For example, the Loops gimmick by Yigal Mesika. These cost around $10 and yet you can use them for all sorts of magic; such as PK touches, demonstrations of telekinetic power, and much more!
There are only a few key pieces of kit we would recommend you pick up to learn world-class mentalism. Here they are:
A magic wallet might be a higher ticket item, but the sheer usefulness they provide is more than enough to justify making the purchase. A magic wallet will help you out in all kinds of ways; they are made specifically as a utility tool for mentalists and magicians.
Which magic wallet should you get?
We would personally recommend going for something like the Infinity Wallet by Alakazam. It’s a great all-in-one wallet that is equipped to help you accomplish peeks and switches in a new way; using an ordinary looking wallet. We don’t know about you, but we think a wallet looks much more natural and believable than an envelope (a prop often used for similar style effects).
The Infinity Wallet is more expensive than the other wallets on the market. But that’s because it combines the functionality of ALL the other wallets into one. Rather than buying a separate wallet for each function, you can do them all in one. In that way, it saves you money and keeps everything in one place.
This might sound utterly unrelated to mentalism, but it’s one of the most useful pieces of kit you can carry around with you on a day to day basis.
We find that it works particularly well as a ‘multiple out’ tool (which we discussed earlier). If you ever get a prediction or reveal wrong, not to worry.
You can show them that you had a feeling you would get it wrong, and so prepared a ‘backup’ prediction. You remove a folded paper from your pocket with the correct prediction written on it.
This essential gimmick should be one of those that you take with you everywhere; there’s no telling where it might save your routines!
These can be excellent value for money if you use them right. They pack light and you can carry them with you wherever you go. They come in so handy for so many tricks that there’s no reason not to!
As we mentioned, they are great for PK touches and telekinetic demonstrations. There’s bound to be a whole host of other creative ways you could work them into your routines too.
Communication: the Most Important Technique in Mentalism.
The most significant skill you need to develop before you can become a mentalist is communication.
Unlike regular magicians, mentalists can’t rely on cheap tricks to grab the attention of the audience. Magicians usually have WAY more exciting props than mentalists. They can light something on fire or make a car appear out of nowhere! How could that NOT intrigue the audience?
As a mentalist, you can’t rely on flashy props to win over your audience. Instead, you need to create a captivating persona. How do you do this?
Through the way you communicate with your audience.
4 Elements of Communication:
Body Language. Are you standing confidently? How is your posture? Think about what you are communicating to your audience about yourself. If YOU don’t look confident in your ability, why should the audience buy into what you’re doing?
Eloquence. You don’t need to learn the dictionary; eloquence isn’t all about long words. It’s about fluidity; no uncomfortable pauses or hesitations. Again, this is about projecting confidence when you perform.
Expertise. You need to sound like you know what you’re talking about (even if you don’t!). You want your audience to perceive you as an authority figure on the subject you’re discussing.
Confidence. We’ve touched on this already; it’s often regarded as THE most valuable skill for a performer. There’s no need to overdo it or pretend to be someone you’re not. A softly spoken performer like Derren Brown still exhibits as much confidence as a booming voice like Penn Jillette.
The best part is that NONE of these skills are especially hard to learn. You can develop ALL these skills through practice. Here’s a great article on improving your speaking skills and nerves in front of an audience. This is also an excellent resource for any of you who might suffer from stage fright!
Like all things, you’ll develop this skill over time and with consistent practice. As you practice, you’ll discover that improving these communication skills helps you out in real life too! That’s because, as we mentioned, they aren’t skills exclusive to mentalism. They are useful for ALL aspects of your life.
This point ties in well with what we discussed earlier on presentation skills. You aren’t going to astound your audience if all your performance consists of is them writing down a random word and you revealing it.
Well, there’s no reason to do so. You need to create a compelling reason WHY the spectator should be writing down that word. Crafting a narrative and presentation for your effects will give them a WAY more impressive payoff. This is because the audience becomes emotionally invested in the effect.
In fact, it doesn’t even matter how difficult a trick is to do. If it has a strong story that captures the audience, it will get good reactions. End of.
So in performance, always focus on the overall effect rather than the individual sleight…
Some people believe that cold reading is only useful for con-men and scammers. That’s not true. Used correctly, cold reading has many practical applications for the mentalist.
‘Cold Readers’ make a series of broad statements that, to the participants mind, seem specific and accurate.
For example, imagine a mentalist invites a member of the audience to join them onstage and says…
‘I’m getting the impression that you’re a social person. You enjoy being active in the community. Is this right?’
This is an educated guess. If the spectator has been bold enough to volunteer to come up onstage with the mentalist, the chances are that they ARE a social person. Since they’re also paying them a compliment, it’s doubtful they’ll disagree anyway.
From here the mentalist might say something like.
‘I also get the sense that you’ve been a member of lots of different communities. Have you moved around a lot?’
This is, again, an educated guess. Maybe the spectator is older; there’s a good chance they’ll have moved a decent amount. Or they might be foreign. If it’s another ‘hit,’ the mentalist might ask one more question.
‘You’ve moved around a lot, but I’m getting an impression of one place in particular. Do you have a favorite? Or particularly fond memories of one?’
Again, it’s highly likely that the answer will be ‘yes.’ Almost everyone has fond memories certain locations they’ve lived in. But the way the mentalist presents it, it appears they really are ‘reading’ the spectator.
Finally, the mentalist says:
‘Can you write down the name of this place on this piece of paper?’
Now the mentalist can perform a peek, glimpse the word and reveal the exact word the spectator is thinking of.
Because the mentalist has used TWO different techniques, he disguises the cold reading by using it alongside other techniques.
Used with subtly, Cold Reading can enhance many mind-reading performances.
Where can you learn these mentalism techniques?
We’ve explained to you a few of the awesome techniques you’re going to need to pick up if you want to learn real mentalism. But knowing WHAT the methods are isn’t going to help you learn them.
You need to know HOW to do them.
There are loads of resources you can find for learning mentalism, but for best results, we suggest the classics. Here are our favorites:
Even in the 21st Century, books are still one of THE best ways of learning mentalism. They compile almost everything you need to know into one place, making it so much easier to digest. Plus, they’re great value for money.
Here are the top 3…
This book is the ‘Bible’ of mentalism. We’d wager that 90% of successful mentalists delved into this book as a beginner. It contains almost every single technique you’ll need to master. Plus, full explanations on how to do them.
This book was first released as a collection of thirteen smaller books on different topics within mentalism. It was then pieced together into a book in 1961.
13 Steps has gained legendary status within mentalism as the most comprehensive text on the various techniques of the art. Along with the explanations of these techniques, it also teaches how exactly you can use them into your own routines.
The author, Tony Corinda, was an English mentalist born in 1930. As a result, it’s true that some of the information included in this book isn’t as relevant as it was at the time of publication. That’s why we recommend you read it in combination with a more modern book on mentalism (see the third book on this list!).
But on the whole, there’s no denying the fact that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better introductory book to the topic.
Where can you find this book?
You can find this book here: https://store.conjuror.community/product/13-steps-to-mentalism-plus-encyclopedia-of-mentalism-and-mentalists/
Practical Mental Magic
Mentalists hold this book in similar regard to 13 Steps as one of THE go-to books for beginners who want to learn incredible mental magic.
Professional mentalist Theodore Anneman wrote it in the early 1940s, and Dover republished it in 1983. Don’t let the age of this book put you off; it contains over 300 pages on the essential techniques of mentalism.
What’s more, this book is much easier to get your hands on; you can find it for around $10 at the Conjuror Community Magic Store. Check it out here!
The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy VOL. 2
Another book written by an amazing mentalist; this time Bob Cassidy. It contains over 400 pages of powerful effects, techniques, and routines.
What makes it any different from the books we’ve already mentioned?
In our eyes, this book is more comfortable to approach from the position of an absolute beginner.
13 Steps and Practical Mental Magic are both classic texts that are essential reading for mentalists. But they can be intimidating to beginners due to the more advanced methods and older writing style. Some might not be able to grasp the power of the techniques taught—and even give up on mentalism.
The ideal approach would be to read The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy VOL.2 first.
It provides a much more accessible introduction to mentalism that doesn’t overwhelm the reader. Once you’ve got a decent grasp of the techniques and ideas discussed, you can move on to the more elaborate works of Anneman and Corinda.
Almost ANY skill you can imagine is being taught on the Internet by now.
Mentalism is no exception.
So if you want to become an incredible mentalist, and books just aren’t your style, you might be interested in checking out some of the following resources…
Online Lectures and Training Videos
If you’re a visual learner, online training videos and resources are a great place to learn the ropes of some of the most classic effects in mentalism.
Here are the two of the best places to go for this…
We are an online magic training program and community. At the moment we are putting out some of the highest quality magic training videos at the lowest prices.
We have a whole range of video lectures that teach mentalism skills in an easy to understand way. For example, this training on the Center Tear and this three-part routine that combines Telepathy, Clairvoyance and Precognition.
To find ALL our mentalism training videos, click here.
Or, joining the Conjuror Community Club gives you free access to a whole bunch of training videos like this. You also get regular live one on one training sessions with professional magicians!
What’s better than watching your favorite magicians perform live?
Watching them perform live, and THEN, explaining exactly how they did each trick.
Penguin Live lectures are, as the name suggests, live lectures with professional magicians. They generally follow this routine:
The magician demonstrates a few tricks and performing a routine for a live audience. They then sit down and explain the workings of each trick. After this, they share their thoughts on magic theory, performance tips, and more.
There are some great live lectures by world-class mentalists like Banachek, Peter Turner, Osterlind, and more.
They’re not too expensive on the whole, but Conjuror Community Lectures are better value for money.
You need to pay for each Penguin Live lecture, and the cost can stack up fast. But you can view ALL the Conjuror Community lectures with one single monthly payment.
Learn From The Pros
One of the biggest issues with magic tutorials on YouTube is that they are usually uploaded by amateurs. There’s definitely some value in them, and you can learn a thing or two, but it’s not ideal.
There’s one way to avoid this. Instead of watching tutorials, watch PERFORMANCES. These performances should be by world-class mentalists like Banachek, Nathan Kranzo, or Max Maven.
As you watch these performances, you may not learn any actual moves or tricks. But you will undoubtedly learn a LOT about how to present your magic and how to perform. By watching them in action, you can get a masterclass in presentation and performance.
So, by now you should have a pretty good understanding of the first steps to learning mentalism:
– If mentalism is for you
Step 2: Practice, Practice, Practice
If you ask ANY professional in ANY field how they got to where they are now, there’s one answer that you can bet they’ll all give you.
That one answer is this: practice.
Practice is the only difference between amateurs who know how mentalism works in theory and the professionals who use it to pay their bills.
There’s no other way about it.
It’s one thing to KNOW the skills and techniques we’ve discussed. The next step is to practice them to the point where you can DO them without thinking. They need to be so familiar to you that you can do them in your sleep!
So how do you practice without getting burnt out or bored?
It’s inevitable that there will be days when you won’t want to practice. That’s only natural. But it’s crucial that you make sure you have a consistent plan, or schedule, in place. If you only ever practice when you feel like it, you’ll never make much progress. Here’s a great article on how to fit your practice sessions into your daily routines, even if you live a busy life!
In addition, here’s a simple step by step practice schedule you could follow while learning how to become a mentalist…
Step 4: Perform and Refine: building YOUR persona through solid routines
Before you decide on anything else, you need to figure out HOW you’re going to present your mentalism. You’ve learned the basic techniques, and you’ve practised them until you can pull them off every single time.
Now comes the most important part. Your persona—or in other words, how you present your magic.
A persona is a HUGE part of any mentalist’s success.
For example, there’s a reason everyone loves Derren Brown. It isn’t the actual effects he performs—it’s the WAY he performs them. We love his persona—the calm, unnervingly smart trickster who always seems to be one step ahead of you.
If you want to be a successful mentalist, you also need a persona.
The very first step in creating one is deciding HOW you’re going to present your mentalism.
Once upon a time, mentalists would claim to hold ‘supernatural’ or ‘psychic’ powers.
As we’re sure you’re well aware—this tends not to happen very often anymore. Today’s audiences rarely accept ‘supernatural’ explanations. While it’s true that some performers still manage to pull it off, on the whole, mentalists have adapted their styles and practices to modern attitudes.
For many mentalists, this means adopting a more traditional ‘magic trick’ presentation. In these types of acts, the audience is well aware that what they are seeing are nothing more than tricks—just very impressive ones!
But not all mentalists have resorted to presenting their acts as ‘tricks’—and you don’t need to either.
Many of the most skilled mentalists instead opt for a more balanced approach. While they don’t claim to have any ‘otherworldly’ powers, they don’t admit to using simple tricks either. Instead, they perform routines based on concepts grounded in reality. For example, instead of claiming to read someone’s ‘mind’, a modern mentalists might read their ‘body language.’
For example, let’s return to the example of Derren Brown. He doesn’t claim to have ANY supernatural powers.
In fact, when we were lucky enough to watch him live, he opened his show by stating that NONE of his tricks are in any way related to ‘supernatural’ powers. But at the same time, he doesn’t present his effects as ‘tricks.’
Instead, he offers plausible methods to explain the extraordinary. For example, the use of hypnosis to make a member of the audience follow his every command. A highly impressive act, but one that you can understand in terms of science and facts—he makes it easy to believe he’s really doing what he claims to do.
Why is this relevant?
We think that when creating your persona, you’ll do best going for this more ‘modern’ approach to mentalism.
The power in this kind of mentalism is the way it plays on the fringe between illusion and reality. Because mentalism feats aren’t presented as ‘tricks’, but as legitimate demonstrations of ‘mental power’, the audience believes that there’s at least a slim chance that maybe, just maybe, the performer is really doing what he claims.
In other words, when you do mentalism well, your audience won’t view your feats as tricks—but as legitimate demonstrations of mental phenomena.
That’s powerful magic!
What else should you consider when establishing your persona?
There are LOADS of different factors that will come into play. Are you going to be serious? Humourous? Quiet? Loud?
The best advice we can give you is to go out there and perform! The more you perform, the more you’ll figure out what style performance fits you best. There’s no secret to it—your persona will gradually develop over time.
Once you’ve got a solid idea of how want to present your mentalism, you need to get started building a routine.
Why use a routine?
None of us like it when we’re caught off guard–magicians especially so. It’s always a good idea to carry around a set routine of three tricks that you can perform any time.
These tricks should be your strongest AND most intuitive material; the stuff you know inside and out.
How do you create a routine?
We could discuss this topic for HOURS—it’s that important. But we’ve already done a great job of explaining EXACTLY how to create great routines! You can check that guide out here, but for the time being, we’ll just briefly give you our thoughts on the question.
Our opinion is that you should aim to keep things simple, yet polished. Don’t go for advanced material that’s out of your depth. Work with what you’re familiar with. If you’re still in the beginning stages of learning how to become a mentalist, this might be very basic material. That’s completely fine!
We generally recommend that you use a maximum of THREE tricks in a standard routine. Now there are exceptions to this. For example, if you’re preparing for a stage show or something similar, you should use more than this. But for most of your daily performances and interactions, we find three to be the perfect number.
You start out with a simple yet intriguing trick to grab their attention. Then you move into a longer, story-based effect, before finishing with your strongest effect (often one with a surprise or ‘kicker’ ending).
Why only three?
We find three tricks to be ideal. If you go past this amount, you definitely run the risk of overdoing it. You’ve got to be careful; draw a balance between impressing your audience–and exhausting them.
After the first three tricks, some audience members won’t have more to give. They’ve already expended all their ‘amazement’ on the material you’ve already shown them!
Three tricks is also an excellent way to feel out the mood of a potential audience.
If they react well, you could go on to perform a few more effects. You can tell from the first three tricks if they aren’t going to be receptive to more magic. If this is the case, you can bow out gracefully without embarrassing yourself.
We also like to try to make sure that the three tricks we’ve selected have some sort of narrative—a common link between them. This narrative should run consistently through ALL the tricks.
So rather than jumping from trick to trick, try creating a story—or patter. This story should link each of the three individual effects into one consistent routine.
Once you’ve built up a routine that you’re satisfied with, you need to test it out on real people and get a feel for how effective it is…
By now, you should have an idea of the routine you want to use. The question is, will it get the reactions you’re hoping for?
There’s only one way to find out. No use putting it off any longer; you need to get out there and perform for someone other than your dog.
We know it can be intimidating to start performing these effects to real people for the first time. This is an even harder process if you’ve only ever performed them in front of the mirror, with no pressure on you.
But the only way to take your mentalism from amateur to professional standard is through performing in real time for real people. As you do, you’ll get 10x the insights into the strength of your effects and patter.
What should you keep in mind while performing for people?
Here are our top three things to look out for…
– Audience Reaction DURING Your Routine
This seems like an obvious one, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
The No.1 thing you need to watch is the reaction of your audience to not only the overall effect, but the little moments too.
How do they react to what you say? How do they respond to the way you perform a specific move?
Just because the overall effect gets great reactions doesn’t mean it’s perfect- not by a long shot.
You need to watch for the reaction of the audience DURING the whole routine. Assuming everything went well only because you get some applause at the end isn’t enough.
For example, let’s imagine you’re performing your spoon bending routine. You borrow some spoons and bend them one by one. For your big finale, you even bend a spoon as the spectator holds it!
When you finish, everyone cheers and applauds you. Does that mean it went perfectly? Of course not!
If you had been paying close attention to the reactions of the audience DURING the trick, you might have picked up on a few areas that need improvement.
Maybe there was a particular line that didn’t get many laughs. Or perhaps the audience didn’t look satisfied when you told them the spoons were ordinary.
If you had been paying attention to the reactions DURING the routine, you would have noticed these moments. And if you’d noticed these moments, you would be able to figure out a way to improve them for next time!
All that we’re trying to convey is the fact that you always need to be studying your audience and observing their reactions all throughout the routine- not just once you finish. This will give you the most relevant insights on how to improve it for the future.
– What Questions do the Audience Ask AFTER Your Performance?
This is a really important one, and one that people learning how to become a mentalist might overlook at first.
We just discussed how vital it is to observe your audience DURING your routine. Now let’s talk about why you should also pay attention to their questions long AFTER you’ve finished.
If you stick around to chat with people after your show, you’ll inevitably find that they start asking you questions about the magic. These questions are a great way to see your magic through the eyes of your audience.
When you understand how the audience sees your work—you learn what you need to know to improve it.
What does this mean?
Again, we’ll try to explain this point with an example.
Sticking with the same theme, let’s imagine you’ve just completed your spoon bending routine. On the whole, it went well. But, after you finish the trick, a member of the audience comes up to you and says this:
‘That was great! But I bet you couldn’t do that with one of MY spoons…could you?’
This seemingly innocent question actually suggests that the audience didn’t believe you when you told them the spoons were ordinary. They suspect there’s something fishy about them.
This is definitely NOT something that you want your audience to be thinking. If they believe the spoons are fake, they will be much less impressed by the rest of the trick.
The solution is obvious. You need to improve the way you show your audience the spoons and make it much more apparent that they ARE ordinary.
So, in the end, you improve your routine vastly just by listening to a simple question from a member of the audience.
You can apply this to ALL your effects. Stick around and chat with your audience once you’ve finished. You’ll come away with a HUGELY improved understanding of how to increase the impact of your performances.
– Your Audience’s INPUT During Your Performance
We already discussed how important it is to watch the reactions of your audience during your tricks. But there’s one other thing you want to keep an eye out for throughout the routine.
What your audiences SAY.
Getting the right patter for your routine can be a long, frustrating process. Even once you think you have the PERFECT patter, it all might come crashing down in the middle of a show. That’s why we always recommend you don’t just rely on your own creativity, but pull right from the audience too!
What do we mean by that?
Ask any magician how many times a member of their audience has made a humorous comment or observation during their tricks. They’ll be hard-pressed to give you a number. It happens all the time!
As it turns out, you can actually use this to your advantage.
Next time you perform, make a mental note each time someone makes a comment. Sometimes they’ll be hecklers or just trying to annoy you. But occasionally you’ll get a member of the audience who makes a great one-liner or joke about what you’re doing. If it gets a good reaction, make a note of it and consider using it yourself in future performances!
These are a few reliable ways to better your routines. For more advice on the subject of building routines check out this post. It’s all about how to take the magic tricks you already know and turn them into world-class routines.
Once you’ve developed these routines to the point where you’re happy with the strength of each individual element and the reactions you get, the only thing left to do takes us right back to the previous step…
Carry on performing.
This is a form of practice; over time, your performances will naturally evolve and become better. Right now, you might have a great routine that you’ve put together- one that gets great reactions.
Here’s one of the biggest ‘secrets’ of mentalism.
Mentalists mess up their magic. All the time.
But, a lot of the time, the audience won’t realize. This is because mentalists are very adaptable; they can alter their routines based on the situation.
Adaptability is right up there with showmanship and communication skills. As a mentalist, it’s essential that you are able to adapt to ANY given situation within your magic. Simply praying that everything will go to plan is NOT going to cut it. Like it or not, you are going to mess up sooner or later.
If you want to learn how to become a mentalist, you need to be able to roll with the punches and adapt your routines when required. A great way to develop this skill is to practice the system of ‘multiple outs.’
Another technical term that doesn’t mean anything to you.
In reality, ‘multiple outs’ are a straightforward concept. It’s having a ‘backup plan’ for every possibility, in case something goes wrong (or in our case, hundreds of back up plans…).
Here’s an example of how a card magician might use this principle.
Imagine the magician has told a spectator to pick a card, without showing it to them. They then place the card in the deck and shuffle the cards. The magician then says he’s going to make their chosen card appear at the top of the pack. But when he turns the card over, the spectator doesn’t react. Oops. Looks like he’s messed up…he hasn’t got it right.
Well, this is the perfect time for the use of multiple outs.
The magician could simply reach into his pocket and pull out his Invisible Deck (or Second Sight Deck, depending on the situation). He could then tell the spectator that he actually had a strange premonition the night before. Within this premonition, he had a feeling that his magic trick would mess up, and he would get their card wrong. That’s why, he explains, he decided to make a prediction using this very deck in advance, just in case.
As he spreads through the cards, the spectator sees that EVERY single card is face up…apart from one. The magician removes the single face-down card and asks them to turn it over.
Any guesses what comes next?
That’s right. It’s THEIR chosen card.
This simple ‘out’ enables us to turn a complete failure into an incredible effect without panicking or stalling for time.
This is just ONE example of how you can use ‘multiple outs’ in magic. In mentalism, you’re going to find that ‘multiple outs’ are an idea you rely on ALL the time.
This is because mentalism is a lot more variable and fluid of an art form than regular magic. A lot of the time, rather than having a clear end effect in mind, you adapt to each spectator and create the routine around THEM.
But don’t worry if this doesn’t completely make sense yet.
Focus first on gaining a practical understanding of the techniques involved in mentalism. As you do this, you’ll naturally start to understand why it’s so important that you are able to adapt and think on your feet where needed. It’s one of the most valuable skills you can develop to help you learn how to become a mentalist.
How to Become A Mentalist – Step 3: Connect With Like Minded Magicians
It’s much harder to learn how to become a mentalist without ever turning to other mentalists for advice.
Sure, it’s possible. But if you want the best chances of success, you’re going to need to start building relationships other working mentalists.
Your aim might be to work locally and do gigs for restaurants, weddings, or corporate events. What better way to get a foothold in the industry than by getting to know the other magicians doing precisely the same thing?
Or, your aim might be to eventually have your own act or even perform as part of a magic show. You can still definitely benefit from interacting with other mentalists. You can gain useful insights on how to strengthen your existing effects or even completely fresh ideas for new effects.
Where are the best places to keep in touch with other magicians?
Conjuror Community Club
The Conjuror Community Club offers a great way to discuss everything magic related with fellow magicians. There’s a wide range of amateurs and professionals, so you’ll fit in no matter your ability.
For a small fee every month you can get unlimited access to…
1) A global community of magicians ready to give you feedback on your magic.
2) Advice on getting gigs, and motivation to improve your routines. 3) You can even get personal live coaching in a one-to-one setting.
You also receive video training courses on the marketing and business side of your career as a mentalist. These cover how to get yourself ‘out there’ as a professional magician and learn how to become a mentalist much faster.
Plus, there’s so much more material for your shows you’ll be able to pick up! Weekly live workshops and full access to a library of magic tutorials will save you a lot of money in the long run!
For a free option, you could consider joining a “Mentalism Facebook Group”; just don’t expect quite the same level of quality! You definitely won’t learn how to become a mentalist quite as fast through this.
Step 4: Invest In Your Success
If you really want to take your mentalism to the highest level, sooner or later you’ll need to make a few well-placed investments. But if you’re going to spend money, you should only be spending it on the best material. Here are our recommendations…
You can perform many book tests impromptu, (such as this one). But we would definitely recommend investing in a solid gimmicked test to really give it that ‘WOW’ factor.
We would recommend Booked, by Steve Valentine, but there is a whole range of solid options out there. The Outlaw Effects book tests such as Luna always get high marks, as does some of the work put out by Larry Becker.
Invisible Deck/ Second Sight
Most of you probably know the Invisible Deck as a card trick. While it’s true that card magicians use this trick too, nothing is stopping you using it within your routines as a mentalist.
Some mentalists seem to view cards as ‘taboo’ or ‘tacky.’ They think that by using playing cards, they are presenting themselves as regular magicians. This could mean audiences see the effects as ‘tricks’ like you would expect a magician to do, rather than psychological techniques.
We don’t think this has to be a problem. Some of the best mentalists in the world use cards in their effects. The key is to make sure that you don’t present the effect as a trick. If you treat the cards as just another tool to demonstrate your mental prowess, that’s how the audience will see them.
So the Invisible Deck, for example, works nicely in a lot of mentalism routines.
In fact, the most basic presentation of the Invisible Deck is a classic mentalism plot.
The spectator thinks of a card (any card) in their head, without revealing it to the magician. The magician is then able to ‘read’ their mind and makes a prediction of their card by turning it over in a deck.
When the spectator names their card out loud for the first time, the magician shows them the deck. All the cards are face up…except one. The face-down card is taken out of the deck. Any guesses on what the card is?
Yep- the spectator’s (thought of) card!
We honestly don’t see how this trick COULDN’T be made relevant to a mentalism routine. There are hundreds of ways you could spin this presentation.
You could use Second Sight for a very similar effect with cleaner handling; check that one out here.
How to Become A Mentalist – Step 5: A Formula For The Years Ahead…
Magic is really fun. But at times we forget that for magicians, it’s also a job. And like with any kind of job, there’s bound to be days when you just aren’t ‘feeling’ it or fancy calling in sick.
It may seem far off, but one day you might be a professional mentalist. Have you considered what you’ll do if you ever start feeling demotivated? Although right now you’re still learning how to become a mentalist, it will come round sooner than you think!
Feeling unmotivated and bored in your job is not great for anyone; your audience or you. That’s why it’s essential that you stay engaged and above all, excited, by magic.
How do you do this?
One way of keeping yourself motivated and engaged is setting yourself challenges. What might have been if Derren Brown had decided to call it a day once he got his first break as a magician? If he had just set his autopilot to ‘cruise’?
You need to set yourself goals and challenges to motivate and excite you and keep things interesting.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to take breaks! If you get tired of magic, simply taking a week or so out can re-energize and propel you back into the hobby.
Thirdly, make sure you utilize the magic community! Places like the Conjuror Community Club are perfect for magicians to motivate and encourage each other to new heights.
So to recap; here’s your step by step guide to learning mentalism…
Step 1: Learn Mentalism
Step 2: Practice, Practice, Practice
Step 3: Connect With Like Minded Magicians
Step 4: Invest In Your Success
Step 5: A Formula For The Years Ahead…
Thanks for reading this guide on learning to become a mentalist!
We hope you found this guide useful! If you still have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll get back to you on it. We know that was a lot of information; don’t worry about trying to break it all down in one go. Start at the beginning at it will all unfold naturally.