Being a proper, convincing mentalist demands confidence. Nothing shatters the illusion of being a “mind reader” as a blatant wrong guess. Performance skills can help you recover after a mistake, but being confident in your abilities and having the skills to make up for missteps goes even further.
So, to become a convincing mentalist, you will need to ensure that you have the ability to be right about an observation or intuition often enough to retain confidence and keep your audience on their toes. This level of skill takes patience, practice and knowledge from experts on visual evidence gathering. Here are three books that can help you:
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Nothing captures the spirit, mystery and romance of mentalism quite like the adventures of history’s most famous literary detective. Sherlock Holmes displayed an astounding ability to piece together narratives about people from seemingly insignificant clues. For instance, in the short story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Holmes is able to deduce that Watson has been practicing traveling medicine, has been tromping through rain recently and has also hired an inexperienced servant. Holmes’ clues all came from observing scrape marks on Watson’s boot and subtle marks around his body.
“When I hear you give your reasons,” Watson tells him, “the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled until you explain your process.”
Mentalists differ in that they never reveal the relatively simple clues that led them to their conclusion, making their skills seem supernatural. However, like Holmes, they can see supposedly invisible things by observing tell-tale signs that are plain as day.
What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People
Law enforcement agencies like the FBI rely on reading people and using intuition to save lives. Ex-agent Joe Navarro explains this process with the psychology and case history to back it up in his entertaining, informative book, What Every BODY Is Saying. It has been praised and used extensively by law enforcement, business moguls and lawyers to read between the lines of what people are saying versus what their bodies reveal. Best of all, it includes pictures!
The James Bond Cold Reading: A Re-Imagining of the ‘Classic’ Reading
“Cold reading” is the practice of luring answers out of your audience through suggestion and observation. As your audience reacts to things you say, you can begin to elicit the most important details and weave a narrative a la Sherlock Holmes.
This book from Julian Moore is a practical guide to mastering this process without memorizing anything by rote. It begins by putting you in the mindset of a stealthy spy like James Bond before teaching you basic techniques and phrases that assist cold reading. You can even download supplemental materials for free, like flash cards.
Watching Mentalism in Miami
An excellent way to improve your mentalism technique is to watch a true professional in action as they masterfully work a room while entertaining their audience. Take a look at Mio’s mentalism in Miami videos or buy tickets to his next show to see a true expert mentalist in action!