This effect looks impressive, and looks just like you are reading someone’s mind (or the signals that the mind is giving off), and that is because you are!

The Effect.

You are going to accurately tell someone (and all the assembled onlookers), which one of three shapes they are thinking of. You then repeat this with uncanny accuracy over and over again, much to everyone’s surprise. When I use this I use it as a prelude to bigger things…

What you are going to do is to ask someone to think of either a red circle, a blue square and a green triangle, and you will be able tell them which one they are thinking of.

But first you are going to calibrate their responses. Also for the first shape that you calibrate, you are going to suggest a number of things to the person and ensure that you have then in a good ‘state’ from which to calibrate their response. With the ‘performance’ you must be sure that you are eliciting a good response from them when remembering the shapes, this is helped by eliciting a good response at the beginning

So I will explain these two elements. These are not full explanations of every facet of each of these two steps (there are also a few other detailed subtleties that are missing from this text. I consider that I have laid out the foundation here and more than enough to perform it. It could quadruple the length of this article to write in full. If you are playing with this and having successes drop me an email and I will point you towards a few other ideas and elements of this effect…).

Calibrating shapes and colours

For this you are going to ask the person to think of three very different shapes and very different colours, for this they will have to think differently each time. For the red circle you are going to trace the outline of a circle about 4 inches in diameter, below shoulder level with you right hand at your right side. (Of course you can choose your own size, location and other subtleties as you wish). Just before drawing the circle in this position you will say something similar to:

“I want you to think of a red circle, [start tracing it with you finger] about this big… think of it about this big and make it bright red… this size, a shockingly bright, vibrant red colour.”

Now this indirectly tells the person to imagine it in that location. They look where you are drawing and you will keep their attention there for a couple of seconds. Nodding toward the circle, emphasising it with your voice, hand gestures, etc can all be used, as and when you need them in order to keep the person focusing upon the circle you are drawing with your hand just below your shoulder height.

As they are doing this you look at the position of their eyes and remember what you see about their eyes and face. Then break this thought. Stop drawing the circle, move, smile, change your voice, point to something else, etc and say something like:

“Ok great, now I want you to think of a blue square… Make it a sold colour, bold lines and solid in colour.”

Then you observe their eyes and face. If you had a camera and a computer you would photograph the person when they are remembering each shape and save the image. So instead you remember what you see (this also has the added benefit of increasing you memory skills). Also what we would do with a camera and a computer is to compare the two images and notice the things that are different, we would notice the biggest differences first and all the smaller details next. So again you need to make a mental note of the things that are different in their eye movements and facial expression.

Its time to break their state again and then ask them to think of the green triangle. It maybe that there is the smallest difference between where the person looks and the general differences that you observe with the green triangle compared to the blue square, but there will be differences. Again remember them, log them with the powerful complex computing power of your brain.

Next you break their attention from the green triangle and proceed. You ask them to think of any one of the three shapes, watch for their eye movements, depth of focus, face, etc and dramatically reveal their thoughts. It is at this point that you need to make sure they visualise the shape well. It is best here to use your language cleanly and directly. You want to have them keep it pictured clearly for a moment, you can tell them to see the colour and the depth of the colour (ovoid using the word ‘bright’ in your explanation (if you used the word bright as in the example above while having them think of the colour) unless you are intending to suggest that they think of the red circle). Alternatively you can instruct them to see the defined edges of the shape and this is to be done instructionally, or directly as a command with downward inflection in your voice so that they comply.

Because you have taken the time at the beginning to look closely (calibrate the person’s responses when they were thinking of the shapes), it is easy to notice the differences in their responces (they way they look) when they think of either of the three shapes and tell the person which one they are thinking of.

It takes very little practice, it is perfectly possible with no practice at all. Just do it and see for yourself how easy this is and how much you will increase your calibration skills with regard to how and what someone is thinking.


  • David says:

    hey John, love the new look of your blog. Your three shapes took me a couple of reads through to totally get it, but now I think I understand it and its gr8. thanks dude, gonna try this out 2nite

  • Charles Padamadan says:

    This is is great. I want to practice

  • Kai says:

    Another great one! Works too.

  • John Vincent says:

    Hey guys, thanks for the feedback… great to know you are enjoying these.

  • Warren says:

    Hi John, weirdly enough I had an effect in mind that my friend
    does. I read yours before going to sleep and
    dreamt of a fusion if the two effects. I am going to
    try it out tomorrow. I’ll let you know what happens

  • Walsa says:

    I surely have to try it out. Thank you John.

  • Warren says:

    Hi John I tried the effect out as it stands- spot on. First go!
    Lovely, then I tried out theversion I dreamt of. Yes, really. Phenomenal. Again spot on. I’ll email you my thoughts on your amazing idea. Thank you Warren

  • John Vincent says:

    Warren: glad your liking this, and that you had a go at it… I look forward to reading your ideas…

    Walsa, David, Kai and Charles, thanks for your comments, I hope you play with this and have fun with it…

    I will post some more of these kind of things if they are popular…