Let us cold read you for a bit: You’re reading this right now because you want to learn how to be a mentalist.
‘Well duh!’ You might be thinking, ‘Why else would I be here?’
Scoff all you want but the truth is that a good chunk of mentalism can be called ‘stating the obvious’.
Why? Because what looks like a mysterious magic trick is more often than not just a knowledge of how the human mind works.
After all, anything can be obvious if shown to a trained eye and if you train yourself in mentalism, what is ‘magic' to others will be just as natural as breathing to you.
This article will be your handy guide to training to be a mentalist. No frills, no complications, no jargon- just a beginner’s crash course on how to be a mentalist.
Step 1: Know what a mentalist is.
You can't begin studying something if you have no idea what the basic concept of it is. This holds true for any field of study and for mentalism as well.
You need to start by learning what mentalism is. A simple Google search will give you multiple definitions of mentalism which helps you get an idea of what you'll be doing if you study how to become a mentalist.
Prepare a notebook and get a pen. As old fashioned as this may seem, studying with pen and paper is a more effective method than digital note taking.
Studies show that good note taking helps people learn better. The physical act of note taking and reading notes later on helps reinforce people's memories.
Dedicate your notebook just for studying mentalism. You can try out multiple note taking techniques like Cornell or mind mapping.
For an in-depth guide, check out this list of note taking techniques and experiment on what works best for you.
You may be thinking, ‘I'm not going to school for mentalism!' and you're right.
But while you will probably not have a nearby mentalism class you can enroll in, that doesn't mean you can't listen to a lecture.
There are multiple e-learning methods these days and we suggest looking for a mentalism podcast. By learning with a podcast, you can listen and take notes.
This promotes better focus compared to watching a video since you won't be distracted by what's going on in the screen.
By taking notes, you can break down more complicated tricks into a simple outline of steps and create your own guide to help you understand better.
Step 2: Read a book
If you've read our list of famous mentalists, you'll know that many of them wrote their own books.
You might think you don't have the time to read a book but you do. Just set aside a bit of time each day for reading a book on mentalism.
This advice isn't easier said than done either- notice how we always seem to have time to scroll through our phones? Give your eyes a break and focus on honing your craft.
Having a hard time deciding where to start? Check out our list of top mentalism books here.
Written by mentalists for mentalists, these books are all available on Amazon (last time we checked, that is).
Step 3: Practice a trick
Think fast and answer: what does an athlete and a mentalist have in common?
Both of them practice in order to be better in their respective fields.
In the same way that a runner will practice to test the limits of their endurance, anyone who sets out to be a mentalist should be willing to put in the time and effort to master mentalism.
Take your pick of the mentalism tricks we listed in this article.
All of these tricks are very easy and provide you with the basics of more advanced mentalism skills. Once you master these basic tricks, you can simply combine them and/or apply them to other existing tricks.
Step 4: Master Cold Reading
Another key component on how to be a mentalist is mastering how to cold read.
What's cold reading, you ask? It's the art of watching people's behaviors and self-presentation in order to make a guess about their identities.
For example, if you see someone carrying a YSL bag, it's safe to assume that they're wealthy.
Are they dressed in black from head to toe? Maybe they're goth, emo, or some other similar subculture.
Luckily, we've already prepared an in-depth guide to cold reading that you can use as a guide.
The secret to cold reading is knowing how to make general guesses based off of cues you see another person showing.
This brings us to our next step.
Step 5: Learn how to make Barnum statements
There's a reason astrology is so popular: People feel that it just ‘gets' them.
In learning how to be a mentalist, this is a skill that you will have to master as well.
Don't worry- you don't need to learn how to read the stars or predict the future. The only thing you need to pick up from this is how to make generalizations about people.
Once you learn how to cold read, you can begin to study people's personalities.
After all, the fact that everyone is unique but that doesn't mean they don't have anything in common.
Try to observe how people certain ways of dressing share traits. You may notice that a lot of them share aspects of their personality and maybe even aspirations.
Step 6: Create a schedule
It's easy to get started on learning how to be a mentalist. The real challenge lies in staying on that path.
You'll have an easier time sharpening your skills if you keep a regular schedule on when to study and practice mentalism.
By keeping a schedule, you can easily track how much you've learned and motivate yourself. It's harder to quit, after all, if you see that you've dedicated a lot of time to mentalism already.
This brings us to our 7th step.
Step 7: Be SMART
And by that we mean SMART not smart. You don't need to be a genius to be a mentalist but it will help greatly if you can set SMART goals.
A good mentalist knows they aren't just learning to master the minds of others but theirs as well. You can easily master yours with SMART goals.
When learning how to be a mentalist, begin by figuring out what you want to do.
Do you just plan this to be a private hobby? If so, there won't be any need for you to take mentalism too seriously. But if you plan to become a famous mentalist, you're going to have a harder journey ahead of you.
Once you figure out what you want to do, you need to set a bench mark on what it means to be ‘done'. Does ‘done' mean learning how to do a card trick? Or can you only cross ‘Be a Mentalist' off your list when you get a deal for a mentalism TV show?
Next is to make sure that the goal is achievable and realistic. After all, you can't become a world-famous mentalist if you only practice once a month for 30 minutes.
Lastly, have an idea on when you want to be done with this goal. The more famous and skilled you want to be, the longer time it will take for you to be a mentalist.
To stay motivated, you can break up your larger goal to be a famous mentalist into smaller goals.
Begin your first year by simply learning how to be a mentalist, then a good one, and lastly, a great one.
This will allow you to accomplish goals even with a large time frame. The satisfaction of seeing how much progress you've made will encourage you to keep going.
Step 8: Take a break
Breaks aren't just good for your physical health- they're good for your mental health too.
Taking regular breaks will allow you to take some pressure off your shoulders. We get it- becoming a mentalist can be hard when you're just starting out which makes rest even more important.
By getting some time off from mentalism, you can rekindle your passion for the art and reflect on why you wanted to become a mentalist in the first place.
Remember, slow progress is still progress. Whether it's a 15 minute break or a week long vacation, rest can keep you from burning out.
Once your break is done, you can return to mentalism invigorated and ready to tackle your SMART goals again.
We hope that with this article, we were able to give you a good, basic guide on how to be a mentalist.
Becoming a mentalist really isn't that difficult. Like all other skills, it just takes time and practice. If done regularly, your becoming a mentalist will be as inevitable.
Hopefully, you took notes of those steps but if you didn't, please bookmark this for future reference. Who knows? You may one day look back on this in a future where you're finally a great mentalist!