Years ago, I went to see the famous mentalist and mind reader Derren Brown perform his Miracles show in the UK. Some of his mind reading tricks were truly baffling.
He included a lot of audience interaction and everything was left to chance as he would choose an audience member by throwing a Frisbee out into the crowd for a random person to catch and participate.
He asked people to come up with three-digit numbers on the spot or name a certain colour and dates that were personal to only a few. Then he revealed them in an envelope that was locked in a box at the end of the show.
The Basics of Mind Reading Tricks
What I love about Derren Brown is that he shows you how these amazing mind reading tricks are done. Because of course, no one can actually read a person’s mind. But what you can do is know the following:
- How to use the power of suggestion
- Reading a person’s body language for clues
- Obscure mathematical calculations
- Stage tricks
For example, at the end of Derren Brown’s performance, he told the audience that he was going to show us how we ‘randomly’ came up with the colour red. He then played back a quick recording of all the subliminal messages we had received during the show where the word red had been introduced without us realising it.
Sometimes the word RED had flashed up at the back of the stage and no one had noticed. Derren had also said the word several times during the show and winked off to camera as he did so. It was mind-blowing and very revealing.
So if you want to learn mind reading tricks, think about what you are good at. Are you a natural show-off? Do you like narrating a story and being the centre of attention? If so, you might possess the mind reading skills to pull off tricks that require the power of suggestion.
If you are dedicated to practising and you prefer to let your hands do the talking, then maybe stage tricks using cards are more up your street. Or perhaps you are a maths wizard that loves the purity of calculations.
Whatever trick you decide to learn when mind reading, if you use your natural talents, you are more likely to wow your audience.
Let’s start with the power of suggestion and words.
Mind Reading Tricks Using the Power of Suggestion
- The Three of Diamonds
You will need: A deck of cards
This trick is all about influence and the power of suggestion. You need a confident personality to pull this trick off, but it is worth practising.
Take the three of diamonds out of a pack of cards and lay it face down on a table.
You are going to ask someone to think of a card, any card, and keep thinking of that card.
The person picks the three of diamonds and you reveal the correct card.
How it is done
The card is always the three of diamonds because you are going to use the power of suggestion to implant this card into their mind.
You can do this in a variety of ways, with words and body actions.
For example, use words that sound like three, for instance, at the start you can say,
“First of all, I want you to free your mind.”
Then, as you ask them to picture the card make a quick diamond shape with your hands. You then tell them to “Pick a low number.” While you do this, you punctuate the sentence three times with your hand showing three fingers.
The trick is to talk and do all these gestures quickly and don’t be too obvious about it. This shouldn’t take more than a minute.
Ask them to name their card then flip over the three of diamonds.
Mind Reading Stage Tricks
- The ‘One Ahead Trick’
You need: A pen, paper, a cup
This is one of those basic mind reading tricks that once perfected you can use in multiple situations.
You ask a participant a series of questions, such as ‘What is your favourite colour’, writing down their answers and putting them in a cup. In the end, you empty the cup and reveal all the correct answers.
How it is done
You ask a participant to choose their favourite colour. Before they reveal it out loud, you say you’ll predict their choice and write it on a piece of paper. You pretend to write down the name of a colour, but what you actually write is ‘Number 37’. You fold the paper and place it in a cup so that the participant can’t see it.
Now you ask what the colour was. Say it is blue. Memorise the selection and move onto the next question.
Ask what their favourite food is. You ‘predict’ again by writing but this time you write ‘The colour blue’. Put the piece of paper in the cup and ask what the favourite food was. Memorise the answer and continue. Say it was steak and chips.
Finally, ask them to choose a number between 1-50 (people always choose 37!). Again, make your prediction but write down ‘Steak and chips’. Remember, you have already written down 37 at the start.
Now you can toss all the predictions out on the table and wait for the applause.
The way to make this seem like a real mind reading trick is to take your time and really focus on trying to guess each ‘prediction’.
Note, if by chance they didn’t choose 37, it just makes the other predictions look more realistic. Using this method you can ask as many questions and make as many ‘predictions’ as you want.
- I Predict Dead People
You’ll need: A pen, A4 paper, a cup
In this mind reading trick, you will predict the name of a dead person. This trick only works, however, with three people and you must use one piece of paper. The order in which people write names down is also crucial to the trick working.
From a group of three people, two people write down the names of two different living people and the third person writes down the name of a dead person. The names are placed in a cup and without seeing the names you pick the name of the dead person.
How it is done
You have three volunteers; you ask two of them to think of living people and one of them to think of a dead person. Then, on the A4 paper, one person writes the name of a living person on the left-hand side, the other person writes the name of the second living person on the right-hand side and the person with the name of the dead person writes that name in the middle.
Then one of the volunteers tears the paper into three so that each name is now on a separate piece of paper. The names are placed in a cup.
The trick to knowing which is the dead person’s name is to feel for the piece of paper with two torn edges as this will be the middle section.
Mind Reading Tricks Using Maths
- It’s Always 1089
You’ll need: A calculator
Knowing that certain calculations always add up to the same number is a great tool for mind readers. It means you can apply the number in a variety of impressive ways.
For this trick, ask for a three-digit number (it has to have different numbers, no repeating digits).
Let’s use 275.
Now ask the second participant to reverse the number: 572
Next, subtract the smaller number from the larger one: 572-275=297
Now reverse this number: 792
Add it to the smaller number: 792+297=1089
Now take the phone directory and ask a third participant to look up page 108 and find the 9th entry. You announce the name.
How it is done
The key to this mind reading trick is that whatever 3-digit number your participant chooses, the calculation will always add up to 1089.
So, in advance, you can prepare the scene by either making a note of page 108 and the 9th entry or circling it. Increase the amazement of your audience by acting nonchalantly and saying,
‘Oh, do you want to test my mind reading skills? Tell you what, hand me that phone book and I’ll try and predict a name at random.’
Do you have any impressive mind reading tricks you can share? Or are you going to try out any of the above? Let me know how you get on!