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A selection of techniques, thoughts, tricks & tips from articles published on various websites.

 Rapport from a (magical) performer's perspective…
Waking State Trance
Embedded Commands a tool for Suggesting ideas

Rapport Deepening Techniques using Meta Programs

A Linguistic Trick using Suggestion and Influence Techniques

Timelines and the Art of Suggestion and Influence
Covert Hypnosis and the Art of Suggestion
A Magician Acting, or an Actor Performing Magic...
(Dose the actor performing magic become a magician by default?)

Key Bending and the Art of Suggestion

Rapport from a (magical) performer's perspective…


What dose rapport mean? With my entertainers hat on, as a magic man, purveyor of illusion or entertainer, well to him it means getting people into the right place, to lead them with the use of suggestion and influence, with the aim of creating entertainment. Leading people to become a part of an unforgettable experience, leading people into a fun and exciting place for a little escapisum and that is what entertainment should be. The reason for gaining rapport with people is to lead them, whether its the purchasing of goods or services or to lead them in the relinquishing of fears and anxieties, toward the gaining of confidence and motivation or indeed for any other purpose.


     In my work I start by assuming that I have rapport already and lead. Many of the masters of influence and rapport will also assume they are leading and generally people will follow.  Sheer personal power and charisma are enough to put you in the leading position and the more we continue to develop our charisma the more we become likeable and influential and the easier we make it for others to gain rapport with us as we lead. There is more, you are also a performer or a speaker, therapist, salesman, consumer or in any kind of situation with people and they are giving you their attention, right? They are listening and ready to follow, so you can influence and lead them to better health, wealth, happiness or any number of other vibrant destinations…


     Buying some petrol the other day I walked happily up to the counter and in a confident manner announced/asked: "good morning Graham, and how are you?" to the man I had never met before, displaying as per Sainsbury's directions for all the world to see his most personal of all possessions, his name. Making full use of a person's name will go a long way to creating rapport, taking the time to say hello and enquire after him opened a dialogue, a happy and upbeat dialogue with Graham.


     When working as the aforementioned prestidigitator in delightfully exotic and splendid locations I like to introduce myself to the table or group by firstly explaining to them what I'm doing and then by supplying my name. I then proceed to ask the names of all the people on the table; once they have all been supplied I restate my name and the magic begins.  The audience are no longer merely passive observers but are now all active participants in the event because; I have entered into a dialogue, a verbal exchange with everybody on the table.  They are already doing what I have asked, admittedly I have only asked them to tell me their names and I volunteered my name to them first, nonetheless they have still complied with my request. Next I can ask them to comply with other small requests, like choose a card and they will follow more readily…  


     We already have rapport with people; it's just a question of deepening it. When on holiday if you meet a person from the same hometown as you, in general most people will instantly feel a connection, (a connection will even be felt when they are merely from the same country as you, if you are holidaying abroad). The differences between you and them, have been minimised by finding some commonality. There are many ways of minimising those differences, as I'm sure you are aware. The use of techniques like:                


  • Matching and mirroring of body language.

  • Matching of predicates, (The words we use)

  • Matching of voice tonality and Rate of speech.

  • The sneaky use of embedded commands.

  • Association etc…


     These techniques all have their place. As a performer I have the lovely position of choosing who I work with and from an audience I pick the person with whom I think I will get the best results, based on my observations of them from the outset. With maybe 10 minuets in each groups delightful company it is I find important to establish rapport very quickly.


     A table, just as any audience will have its leaders and followers (it is normally foot stools and chairs that follow tables); there will always be loud people on the table just as there will always be quiet, shy people there.  If you attempt to gain your maximum rapport with the shy people on the table the louder and more dominant people, wanting some of the attention for themselves, will split the dynamic of the table or group. If however you angle a higher percentage of your attention to the person or people in the group who seem to be dominating the table already and gain rapport with them the others will follow their example much easier (and the example they are to follow is one of respect and indeed in the giving of clear and open sensory input channels to me.) This luxury affords me the opportunity to be aware of my influence on other people who are en-rapport with me and, for a moment in time, lead and entertain them…


     …where will you lead and who will follow? Learning N.L.P and hypnosis I find will inspire you to become more interested in the whole area of persuasion, influence and the development of yourself and your abilities in every area of your life that you are aware of and indeed new areas you will find as you continue with your adventures on our most resplendent planet, Earth.

Waking State Trance


  What is a 'waking state trance'? First, lets explore what direct overt hypnosis and indirect covert hypnosis are… 

     Direct authoritarian hypnosis is the kind of hypnosis that stage performers use. It is the type of Hypnosis that a hypnotist uses when they direct a person into trance. The fanciful swinging of a watch that is seen in the films is about 'fixation' of the attention. A stage hypnotist or practitioner performing overt direct hypnosis will have a person fixate their attention on an object and then continue to direct the person with suggestions to close their eyes, relax their body, walk down a set of stairs etc.  

     Covert conversational hypnosis is where a person is lead into a trance without overt suggestions. This could be in the telling of a story about a holiday, a massage or a relaxing experience and obtain eye closure in a covert fashion.

     Waking state trance is when the suggestions of the hypnotist are given and accepted without the formal trance.

     Has anyone ever told you something and you believed them? Well of course they have and of course you did. They offered a suggestion and you accepted that suggestion. A hypnotist will offer a suggestion that smoking is bad, the suggestion is accepted and the person stops smoking. There is no difference between somebody telling you that a film is good and you believing that suggestion, or a hypnotist suggesting to you that feeling confident is good and you accepting that suggestion and acting upon on it. A competent hypnotist will know how to pitch the suggestion just right so that it is accepted; so for that matter will a salesman. A close friend of yours can tell you something he or she has learnt and believes and the resistance of your conscious mind maybe bypassed resulting in your unconscious mind accepting the suggestion.  We are all using hypnosis on each other all the time, whether we realise it or not. Even when we do not verbally respond we are still communicating volumes.

     There are various techniques that can be used to ensure that the suggestions are accepted more readily. The gaining of Rapport is paramount (see my article: Rapport Magic, for an overview of Rapport) and the use of Embedded Commands (Analogue marking can be used to make the embedded commands more powerful). The use of ambiguous words and words that sound similar, marked out and embedded as commands, will go unnoticed and unchallenged by the conscious mind allowing ideas and concepts to be fed direct to the unconscious mind. Metaphor is a method of giving the mind a concept without directly referring to the specific example you wish to suggest. The more you direct a person towards a point of view the more the unconscious portion of the mind will become familiar with the new opinion. If pleasant emotions are associated with this new point of view it will seem appealing.

     To covertly elicit a 'state of mind' from someone, a state of interest for example, and then place your product or service into the thoughts of that person or group of people, will associate the feelings of interest with the product. This is something advertisers do all the time, the major brand names continue to spend hundreds of millions, billions even, on global advertising because it works!

      The more you can influence the unconscious portion of the mind the more you will see those influences manifested as actions and behaviours in the person or group of people.


Embedded Commands a tool for Suggesting ideas

     An embedded command is a set of words that form a command (rather than a question or statement) that is hidden inside a larger sentence, enabling the command to be delivered with less conscious resistance. Embedded commands become more powerful when used in conjunction with 'Analogue Marking'. When a command is hidden within the sentence structure and marked out by a subtle shift in rhythm, gesture, or voice tonality, it will become more effective. The idea is to modify your behaviour in a subtle way so as not to be consciously obvious.

      The words do not even have to be next to each other in the sentence, just so long as you make them diffrent, and mark them out to the unconscious mind. If you alter your tonality too much it will become obvious to the person listening, so you need to be subtle. It is also useful to modify your behaviour in some other way like making direct eye contact on the words to be marked out and go back to just looking at the person's face more generally for the rest of the words. You can also perform a discreet movement with your head, arms, or body language in some way on the commands.

     Below is a simple example of this, that you can play with today (and tomorrow), and if you do achieve a success with this the first time you try it, great, build on it, think of real world applications for this technique. If you do not succeed first time and you do want to learn, do it again.  This will work best when you have a good rapport with person you are talking to, if you do not have their attention or are just not en rapport with them wait until you are or do it with someone you have a good rapport with. So we will attempt (and succeed) in getting someone else to rub or touch their eye (this is a measurable response, something you can easily observe and not too out of place an activity for someone to exhibit). The following are just a few example phrases of the way you can use the words 'touch' and 'eye' in the same sentence, even right next to each other. Of course you are saying the word 'I' but it sounds the same as the word 'eye' (this is called a phonological ambiguity). Practice it, hone your skills, and have fun.

     "I said to him let's stay in touch. I (eye) know he is the type of person who will call me…"

     "…strange turn of phrase that isn't it, stay in touch. I mean when we are on the phone we aren't touching are we, just talking!"

     "…he uses the phrase touch a lot, I mean with him it's always touch base, touch on this idea, touch, touch, touch, I now know its because he is a very kinaesthetic kind of person, but it use to…"  


Rapport Deepening Techniques using Meta Programs.


     A Meta Program is the name given, in Neuro Linguistic Programming (N.L.P.) to describe patterns of behaviour. For example, do you notice the similarities or the differences? This would be a 'Same/Difference' Meta Program. You may notice what is similar in a situation or what is different, or with an object how it is 'like the one you have', or how it is 'different from the one you have'. Some people will talk about what they want to achieve (moving towards) while others will talk about what they want to avoid (moving away from). This is the 'Moving towards or away from' Meta Program. For example: 'I want to be thinner' or 'I don't want to be fat'. Both of these are about weight loss and have the same end goal but they are stated very differently.


    There are many Meta Programs, in this article I will focus on the Big Picture/Detail Meta Program and its applications within group work. I shall illustrate this Meta Program with an example: if you are performing or speaking from a stage, in an environment where people have chosen where they sit (rather than being given a seating plan), you will find a pattern, something that generally tends to happen is the people who sit in the front rows like to see the detail. These people want to see the details first and then they like to understand the bigger picture. Conversely, there are people who like to see the bigger picture first and then get to the fine details. Those people who choose to sit in the middle and towards the back of the audience fall into the second category.  

     So, when you invite a member from the audience to help, you know right away that when you explain what is requested of them it will need to be presented to them as either an outline first followed by the detail, or the details first followed by the bigger picture, just from where they were sitting. You might say: 'We are going to make this Elephant disappear and what I would like you to do is...', for a person who was sat near the back that is now assisting you, or you would say 'What I would like you to do is... and then the Elephant will disappear' for the person from the front of your audience who is helping you. You could instead choose a person in a specific place in the audience and know that a particular presentation is better suited to them.  

     Will it work every time with every one? Does anything? You will certainly stand a much better chance of creating a good rapport with your helper than if you don't use this simple technique and when the audience sees that you are getting on well with the person on stage they will like you more. These are the small details that when thought about and applied help you to stand out from the majority of performers/speakers who don't know about such things. This as I have said is just one of many Meta programs and there are many ways we can use them.


A Linguistic Trick using Suggestion and Influence Techniques

      Asking somebody if they have the time and then interrupting the pattern of behaviour that follows i.e. the person looking at their watch, noting the time and then relaying the indirectly asked for information is a useful trick. Never is the question "Do you have the time", answered "yes" and the actual time of day then not shared. What happens is; a series of actions are triggered that run one after each other, initiated by the close-ended yes/no question. When a series of patterns are interrupted for a split second the conscious mind is confused, tripped up, short-circuited if you like, and suggestions can be given directly to the unconscious mind without the resistance of the conscious mind. In the following example we interrupt this pattern of behaviour verbally by continuing the sentence so that it is no longer a request for the time, but a request to see if the person has enough time to do something, it will also evoke reciprocity and offer the opportunity to collect some useful information at the same time: 

"Have you got the time…? To accept my offer of a gift for you, by just going to my website, filling in your details and you will receive the free download (or the CD/DVD through the post)."


     By continuing the sentence after a short pause, just long enough for them to have started the process of engaging in a single unit of behaviour you interrupt their pattern as they realise you are not asking for the time of day. Embedding the command 'accept my offer', whilst also anchoring it visually or kinaesthetically, if appropriate, will give you a useful tool later when you may indeed wish to have the person except your offer.


     Also by the action of giving a gift you are invoking the first rule of reciprocity as defined by Dr Robert Cialdini. It is accepted by sociologists and anthropologists the world over that a person or group of people will normally repay to a larger extent than that which was given or indeed offered to them. This can be most commonly seen in the act of giving gifts at birthdays or other occasions, people feel bad when they have even just forgotten to send a card to somebody who sent one to them. When somebody else buys you dinner or a present you feel obliged to reciprocate the favour. This is even true when all that has been offered to you, (even uninvited) is a discount.


     The 'rejection then retreat technique' used by salesmen is a prime example of this, first they start at a high price only to reduce it 'specially for you, just for today because…", to you, this makes you feel like they have given you something and as a result you become more likely to give then something, i.e. the price that they were after all along!


     Also, you capture the email address of an interested, potential client for future free advertising. To the savvy Internet marketer this information is worth the time in creating a free download or CD/DVD to send out.


     With this one action you have: embedded a command and anchored it. Evoked reciprocity and collected a potential customer's contact details and all in just ten seconds!

Timelines and the Art of Suggestion and Influence


When you understand what a Timeline is, you can use it to influence people. Then, the more you understand what a Time Line is the more you will notice when other people are influencing you, whether they realise it or not!


A Time Line is simply the line you can draw between the imagined location of things that haven't even happened yet and between the remembered location of (visual) memories (images) of past events that don't exist anymore. If you imagine something vividly from the past and notice where your eyes are looking and then think of a different memory from the past and notice the location of that, you can start to plot a line from the past to the future.

Some people will say they don't visualize. It would be best for that kind of person to ask someone close to them to observe their eyes as they imagine memories from the past - it is important for the observer to be someone who is observant; a person who is able to notice not only where the eyes move, but how focused or defocused they are - and they will notice that that person is looking in different places and focusing at different depths. They can then plot the Time Line for the other person.

Your Time Line maybe a straight line left to right, from behind you on the left hand side to in front of you on the right-hand side, or a crazy looping backward and forward scribble all over the place. Anything is possible, and there is no right or wrong answer, although some style of Time Lines are more useful for certain things than others.

"As you see yourself in the future…" spoken to someone who is daydreaming about their future, "…and see all the things there…" while standing in the future of their Timeline will make it much more likely that you will feature at least to some degree in their future. Whether it's just a casual thought a day later or marriage and the building of a business empire together will depend on your use of suggestion. People will have a total conviction that certain things are going to happen in their future. Dinner tonight, birthday in June, holiday in August, Christmas in December etc and if you can put your ideas into someone's future just as concretely, they will have a total conviction of belief concerning your new ideas.  


Covert Hypnosis and the Art of Suggestion

Much has been written lately about the so-called 'Covert Hypnosis' and 'Covert Hypnotic Techniques'. They exist. They are powerful. They are also very subtle.

'They exist' this is true, but do they work? The simple answer, 'Yes', will meet with some parties agreeing while others would disagree, and they would both be right from their point of view; so lets explore further and get a common agreement. Can everyone who tries these techniques get them all to work? Of course they cannot. Not even the world's most experience Hypnotists can perform every so called 'hypnotic phenomena' that would be like asking a painter to be able to paint in the style of Salvador Dali's surrealism, Constable's realism and Monet's impressionism along with every other style there is. The volume of diffrent paining styles is huge and no one could ever hope to paint like all of them!

Some people try a few techniques, they do not work, and they give up. The opposite of that is that some people try a few techniques and keep trying them and eventually achieve successes that spur them on to learn more, and most importantly, keep practising. If you put a hand out and reach, with maybe a little nod of the head you can influence some people to pass you the TV remote controller or a magazine without you saying a word. Everybody is able to use some form of body language to influence or change people's minds, even if it is just shaking your head! Even so the 'technique' of shaking your head (mastered by infants) is a non-verbally given suggestion, universally recognised as meaning 'No'.

This is the equivalent of the painting 'technique' called 'throwing paint on a canvas' (also mastered by infants) and this is indeed a method (or technique) of getting paint on the canvas, indeed even used by some professional painters exhibited in some of the most prestigious galleries! -what an achievement it is to convince the art world that paint thrown on canvas is art. An artist can convey thoughts in images... An image really does speak a thousand words, and if you know how to speak in pictures, well you could convince with them to! - Describing shaking your head as a technique is using the word 'technique' as loosely as possible! Nonetheless it is nonverbal communication and therefore a 'physical suggestion', the use of 'body language' as it is sometimes called.

Adopting the point of view that shaking your head is a non-verbal suggestion means you are already a master of some non-verbal suggestion techniques. With practice you can become more successful with other 'techniques'. Some people for example can have a person kiss them without speaking; maybe they have been in a relationship for years or just met that night! There are some people who can give such a look that... well you know... Some people can suggest images and thoughts to people in an entertainment setting; there are many forms of suggestion and many outcomes.

Accepting that these things are brought about with suggestion and, that suggestion is the main tool of the hypnotist makes these 'hypnotic techniques'. The reason they are covert is because most people would not call them hypnosis, so they are hidden from view. When you kiss your wife or girlfriend because she leaned over suggestively and invited you to kiss her without saying a word, are you thinking about her use of suggestion or just acting on the suggestion? Just like the handshake suggestion, you put your hand right out there and hold theirs while shaking it up and down. To call these things hypnosis seems laughable and that is why they work so well because nobody is ever looking for them, people do not analyse your every movement, there is too much happening to consciously keep track of. As you think back and realise you do not remember everything I said in this article, that means your conscious mind cannot challenge what it has forgotten I said, and so those suggestions are, for the time being, and maybe even for the rest of your life, something that you act upon. That is covert hypnosis, or at least one very small (700 word) expression of just one part of the enormous subject of 'Conversational Hypnosis.'

A Magician Acting, or an Actor Performing Magic...

(Dose the actor perfroming magic become a magician by default?)

 Both, is the answer to the above question. It is a trait of most people to have a 'this or that' point of view, however a more useful 'point of view' to have first is one of always looking for a third option, then maybe a forth and more, before making any decision.

People who have taken the time to learn how to act can move into performing magic, this is possible and does happen. Just as magicians can and, really should, move into the arena of acting, especially while performing their magic. Accepting that magicians' act (we do after all have our script (patter) don't we?) then a style of acting must be chosen to fit with the outcome that the magician is aiming to achieve. Consider the stage illusionist, the large-scale stage illusions shown on T.V. and stage can be amazing when done right.


Most stage magicians perform to an audience without talking to them and so to convey any kind of engaging quality they rely on a number of factors from young dancers in tight costumes, dramatic music, lighting, smoke etc and of course the acting. A stage magician will engage a non-verbal set of actions when pushing a sword through a box that contains an assistant. The acting in most stage magicians' performances are punctuated by the music's cadences and so the acting is in turn accentuated to fit the dramatic music. Striking dramatic poses in time with the music while pushing a sword through a box that contains a person, whose protruding toes and hands (both wiggling) and smiling face maybe with a 'surprised expression' can end up looking cheesy!

When words are not the primary form of communication with the audience the message that is communicated has very little real drama if this dramatic and overly cheesy acting style is used; this style seems to have been the norm for a lot of stage magic during the past decades. Just as David Blaine took the world (the spectators world) by storm presenting a fresh new angle on close-up magic and Derren Brown, likewise, with his Television and live shows as a mind reader, maybe it is time for a very new kind of large-scale stage performer of magic… maybe you can do for stage magic something similar to what David Blaine and Derren Brown have done for magic and mind reading? While doing so remember to act the part well.


Key Bending and the Art of Suggestion


Professor Richard Wiseman and Emma Greening recently wrote a paper about studies on suggestion and influence regarding that classic PK effect  'bending a key'! Magic enthusiast Richard Wiseman discuses an experiment in which two groups were shown the same short film where a bent key was placed on a table, it was suggested to the first group that the key was still bending, while the other group, watched the same footage, with no suggestions. It comes as no surprise to us magicians that the first group claimed to see the key continue to bend. As we performers are aware if we continue to tell our audience that the object is still bending, (especially while performing some clever little moves), the audience is more likely to not only believe this, but also to 'see' it.


There are two types of performers who present this, the first being the performer who claims to be able to bend the item using 'mind powers' for example Uri Geller has always claimed that his mind has the ability to alter the composition of the metal in the item and so it bends; whereas the second type, magicians/mind readers who bend keys and cutlery do so, not as 'mind powers' but as more of a strange magical feat.


Let us consider the use of the 'continuing to bend' suggestion, whether on the table or in the spectators hands. As a magician if your audience and volunteers believe that the object did continue to bend while in their hand or on the table, you have performed some amazing magic, you were not merely demonstrating sleight-of-hand but instead creating a really magical experience for them.

What suggestion? For this we rely on the 'presupposition'. For example:

"Do you see it bending?" A close ended question, it is bending or it is not bending.

"As it continues to bend you might see it flicker in colour or get lighter for a brief moment or two?" a presupposition that it is still bending. It is just a question of whether you are aware of the colour changing slightly or it getting lighter as it continues to bend. There is also an ambiguity here, when spoken in this sentence it is unclear whether you mean lighter in colour or weight, this further adds to compound the suggestion.

Decide upon what you wish your spectators and volunteers to experience, then construct a sentence that can only be true if what you want them to believe is actually happening. The more presuppositions you use in one sentence the more the conscious mind is likely to accept them.

As you read over this last bit again (presupposes you are going to read over this again) and realise that you already use presuppositions (presupposition that you will realise this) and decide (presupposes you will decide) to take a few moments to think about new ways (presupposes there were old ways) of using them, either now or while performing (presupposition that you will do this either now or later) the more you learn (presupposes you are learning)  and the more fluent (presupposition that you are to some degree already fluent) you get at using presuppositions.


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