Although many psychics claim that they can perform genuine paranormal feats, there are many well-known techniques that can imitate these effects. One technique called cold reading allows a performer to gather information from his audience and then relay it back later in a way that mimics psychic ability. It requires listening skills and close attention to body language, and with practice, anyone can develop the ability to give convincing fake psychic readings.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
"Prime" your audience. Make no strong claims about your abilities. Tell them that your performance requires their full participation. That shifts some of the responsibility to them, which keeps them from seeing you as a challenge. They will not be looking for you to fail.
Prepare a list of "Barnum" statements to open your performance. A Barnum statement is a statement that seems like it is very specific, but in fact will refer to a wide range of people by its nature. For example: "You are generally outgoing and sociable, but at times you feel detached and insecure about yourself." That statement will apply to almost any normal person, yet touches individuals very personally. Apply these statements to members of the audience to gain their confidence.
Observe audience members. Look for clues about their personality and life through their dress, appearance and body language. Do they smoke? Do they wear jewellery? How old are they? Are they male or female? All of those details can lead to very important discoveries.
Use the "fishing" technique once you have gained your audience's trust. Fishing is finding information from the subject directly, and then rephrasing it as knowledge that you already knew. One way to apply this technique is by making statements about your audience in the form of a question. If they react positively, act as though it was something you assumed to be true. If they act negatively, act as though you assumed it was not true.
Listen carefully to the responses your audience gives you. They may give you valuable personal information without even realising it. Feed this information back to them as though you divined it through some other means.
Tips and warnings
- Practice with friends and family that you trust who can critique your performance.
- Always be confident when you perform. People will respond to your confidence and be more likely to take your performance seriously.
- Gather information in advance about your audience. This can lead to some of the most spectacular readings.
- Use props such as crystal balls and tarot cards. People are more likely to consider things that they find foreign to have special powers.
- Tell your audience what they expect or what they want to hear. Affirming their own beliefs will lead them to accept your performance very quickly.
- Do not use this skill to persuade people that you have actual psychic abilities. Many people who seek out psychics do so because they are grieving or in need. Taking advantage of them is unethical.
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