With recent television shows, movies and books addressing the subject of mentalism, more and more people are becoming interested in mind reading magic. While some of this interest is new, the methods that are used by so-called mind readers to look into the minds of those in their audience are actually quite old and well worn. By understanding some of the methods behind these tricks, you may actually be able to replicate them on your own. As with anything else, becoming well versed in these tricks of the trade can take some time, especially if you want to make them as convincing as the professionals do. The following methods can be employed by anyone to give the impression that you are truly reading minds.
One of the most effective ways to playing off mind reading magic is by using a plant in the audience or a stooge. These individuals are part of the act, though the audience is not aware of this fact. They have been prepped before the show to give certain answers and respond in certain ways to the magician. This is the least complicated means of passing off fake mind reading as legitimate, and requires little skill on the part of the magician. The real skill in this type of trick is in convincing the audience that you and the plant are strangers to one another. Some do this by occasionally guessing incorrectly, or working some mistaken information into the script.
Another method that is often used by those who claim to read minds is simple statistics. When looking for a member of the audience to engage, or looking for a starting point for a conversation, they will make general statements that are likely to apply to someone present. After this initial credibility is established, they will continue to winnow down the information, again making statements that are likely to correlate to the information that they have about the participant. Those who are especially skilled at this trick can perform a cold read on almost anyone, anywhere.
Slight of hand can also be a part of tricks that claim to showcase mind read magic. Whether you are guessing the card that someone has chosen, or writing down the responses to questions that they answer, a skilled magician will be able to await a response from the audience member before hiding the card on their person or pulling the answer from a jar. Timing is everything in pulling off this type of a trick, and it will help to practice without an audience to get comfortable with the misdirection that is required.
Though mind reading magic generally does not rely on real mind reading, there is still a great deal of skill that goes into convincing an audience that you have this ability. As with many things in magic, the true skill comes in the presentation. Before attempting any trick before an audience, it is a good idea to practice before some of your most skeptical and astute friends. They will be able to help with your delivery and ensure that you are as entertaining and convincing as possible.