I’ve been performing magic fulltime for about seven years and during this time I’ve performed many mentalism effects. I have often asked myself how I can get in the minds of my spectators and convince them that what I was doing was not a magic trick but real psychic ability.
Let’s pretend that there is a person out there somewhere that can actually read minds. How do you see the ‘mind reading’ process taking place?
Do you see the volunteer thinking about something and the psychic automatically and effortlessly revealing his thoughts within two seconds? Or do you see the mind reader taking his time to relax his body, take a long breath, attempt to get in the ‘zone’, and once he begins the process stumble along the way with a few ‘off the mark’ statements (“I see a 2, no wait…actually a 3, etc.). The answer is definitely the latter.
My point is that if you want to convince spectators that the mentalism you are doing is real it helps to deliberate stumble along the way. It makes the mentalism that much more real.
When the magician effortlessly and quickly reads the mind of the spectator it seems as though it’s ‘too good to be true’. When this happens other spectators will question if that volunteer is actually a stooge.
There are certainly times in a mentalism routine where the revelation is quick and witty but for most situations stumbling along the way can help in convincing that the process is ‘real’ as opposed to just ‘magic’.