What are the top 5 most important skills to master when learning mentalism?
Starting out to learn any new skill is a bit daunting. So this post is about how to learn mentalism and the 5 important skills to master first.’
'Learn mentalism 5 important skills' include confidence and creating a stage presence. Learning about and understanding mentalism psychology. Learning the skill of NLP and embedded suggestion. Learning the skill of reading body language and nonverbal communication. Learning about Barnum statements and getting to grips with the skill of using the Barnum effect on people.
How to learn mentalism
The skills I will be sharing in this article are the ones I consider to be most relevant to a true mentalist or mentalism act. One who performs mentalism as compared to magic tricks. There is a difference between the two.
The first skill is however one that is important to performing both mentalism and magic.
In the true sense of what the first important skill I include, one could argue that it's not actually a skill, but more of a mindset. What I am referring to is confidence. Where confidence forms a huge part of being a master stage mentalist performer.
If you are looking to master mentalism, you need to be confident. But this comes from practice.
Important skill no. 1 - Confidence and stage presence
Always remember that when you are performing mentalism you will be doing so in front of an audience.
Do you freeze with the thought of speaking in front of crowds of people? Do you clam up and does your mouth go dry even just thinking about doing a speech? If this describes you, then you will need to get over this limiting belief. To become a mentalist, you need to perform in front of crowds of people, so you need to build your confidence. You will need to get comfortable being in front of people and performing.
If I were to ask what goes through your mind if you think about standing up in front of a crowd and speaking?
The majority of people run a mile when asked this question. Most go dry mouthed and clam up at the thought of making a speech. Is this you? If it is, you will need to get over this fear. You need to find a way of overcoming this limiting belief if you ever want to become a performing mentalist.
Performing mentalism is no different from making a speech, but if anything it's worse. So if you get weak kneed at the thought of going on stage and making a speech, you may have difficulty in performing in front of a crowd performing mentalism too.
Don't let your stage fear hold you back
This shouldn't stop you from learning the skills of mentalism and it mustn't prevent you from becoming a mentalist. But before you begin, and if the problem I describe above is one you suffer from, you need to address this first and foremost.
One technique you can use is NLP. NLP or neuro-linguistic programming is one of the skills to learn to manipulate your subjects. But the same technique can be used by yourself too. See below.
Additionally, you can also use hypnotism to your advantage too. Hypnotism can be a very powerful tool to overcome obstacles in your life.
Start small and use baby steps
If you are nervous in front of people, then I suggest you start off small. Begin your performances in front of just a small group to begin with. Start out with friends and family, as they will be able to encourage you. Family and friends will also be more forgiving when you make mistakes, or if your performance doesn't go as planned.
As you build your confidence in small groups you can progress to a larger number of people, and so on.
Having a stage presence
Whilst having confidence and building this up is not a skill as such, one could argue stage presence is.
Stage presence is about deciding on your approach to your performance. Are you going to use comedy or are you going to be serious? Each has its place and each works just as well as the other. Some mentalists, like Derren Brown, use both techniques. The technique they adopt is dependent on the type of performance they are presenting at the time.
Whilst a certain amount of personal stage presence is innate, it is still something that can be learnt and adapted. Building self confidence will have a huge affect to your stage presence. Practicing your mentalism skills will help you to build confidence, which in turn will help your stage presence too.
If comedy is really not your thing, then go with serious. Go with the dramatic affect, as this can be extremely effective with an audience.
However, before you even present to anyone, you need to learn the skills of mentalism. The important mentalism skills I consider to be the top skills are as follows:
Important mentalism skill no. 2 - Understanding the psychology of mentalism and study mentalism psychology
Behind learning the skill of mentalism there's a huge amount of psychology involved. Spend time learning about human psychology. This should include you getting to know and understand about psychological skills like hypnosis and NLP (see below).
Most of the skills you learn in mentalism involve mind manipulation. The best way to perfect the skill of mind manipulation and to really impact your audience with maximum effect is to study mentalism psychology.
The more books related to mentalism and psychology you can read and learn about the subject, the better. If you aspire to become a mentalist like Englishman Derren Brown or Canadian mentalist Bobby Motta, you won't go too far wrong by starting your learning mentalism journey here.
In fact Derren brown started out learning hypnosis himself. If you read his book 'Tricks of the Mind,' which is one I recommend you read, you will discover his personal journey to become one of the most prominent famous mentalists.
The following important skills are all psychology and mind related. Therefore, by having a better understanding of how the mind works, will help you in your learning process.
Important skill no. 3 - Embedded suggestion techniques using NLP
The art of mentalism is to create the illusion that you can read minds. No one can actually read minds, but if you master the skill of embedded suggestion, this will create the illusion of a mind reading ability. Your audience will think you have a wonderful sixth sense!
The skill of embedded suggestion is better explained by way of a video. This is a video with Derren Brown and is a very good explanation of how this skill can be extremely powerful. In this short video,
Derren Brown embeds the idea that Simon Pegg wanted a particular present. He even thinks the idea was his own too. Watch and learn from the master of NLP and embedded suggestion. This skill is the one that fascinates me the most.
For more on this subject on how to plant ideas in someones mind, please read this article here: 'How To Plant Ideas In Someone's Mind (Effective Embedded Suggestion).'
Important skill no. 4 - Learn to read and understand body language
Communication through body language forms around 80% of how we communicate with each other. However, most of what we read of another persons body language, or nonverbal communication, is done unconsciously.
When you get that 'funny feeling' about a person. Perhaps you don't like them for some strange reason, but you don't know why. This is more than likely because you are picking up on some form of nonverbal communication towards you.
The skill you ideally need to master in mentalism is to tap into these 'feelings.' You need to learn to get in touch with what people are saying to you. This is the communication that all people do, but they don't realise they are saying it.
You are in effect reading their minds, as a person's thoughts become feelings, a person's feelings become their behaviours. This is what you need to learn to read. What a person is thinking will in many cases be communicated through their body language.
In this article about mentalism books, I suggest a good book to read on this subject by Joe Navarro. Navarro is an ex-FBI agent who is very skilled at reading a person's body language. He put this skill to use in the job he did when he was a part of America's FBI.
Important skill no. 5 - Learn the art of Barnum statements and the Barnum effect
An other important skill to learn is creating Barnum statements.
Barnum statements are what are used by psychics and mediums. They create the illusion that mind reading is at play. They also create the illusion that the person using a Barnum statement has a sixth sense.
Mentalists are open about how the Barnum Effect works and how they use it on their subjects. But psychics and mediums con people into believing they truly can read minds or speak to the dead, when in fact they can't.
Essentially, a Barnum statement is a general statement that could apply to most people. But when a Barnum Statement is heard by a mentalist's subjects they feel very specific to them.
This is a very important mentalism skill to learn. If you master Barnum Statements and to capitalise on the power of the Barnum effect, you will amaze people with your apparent deep knowledge of your audience. It will appear to your audience that you can read minds.
What to do next to learn mentalism and where to study
Now you have the top 5 skills that are important to learning mentalism, what next?
I suggest firstly, that you take a look around at the articles written on this mentalism blog. Many of the articles also have YouTube videos to watch too, so watch these. Read plenty of mentalism books, as noted above where there's a link to suggested mentalism reading.
You could also fast-track your mentalism learning and study program and take a look at the Master Mentalism Course too.
I hope you enjoyed this article about 'learn mentalism 5 important skills'…
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your journey to become a performing mentalist or magician (or both). Please comment below. Please also share your experiences, both good and bad!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about mentalism or magic, I will try to answer them (or specifically about 'learn mentalism 5 important skills'), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about mentalism for you to read and learn about this fantastic skill.
Have fun and enjoy your journey into learning how to become a mentalist!