It is common place to see a magician or mentalist use some cold reading techniques before revealing the thought of word or image. Using some stock cold reading lines or becoming fluent at cold reading adds an edge to your performance.

Another way of adding to the magic you create is to be able to comment upon the thinking processes that a person is using. N.L.P coined the word, Submodalities. These are the finer distinctions you can make about thoughts. People can think in pictures, with an internal dialogue and have ‘gut’ feelings about something. Submodalities are the finer distinctions within these areas.

Images have certain qualities, for example they can be: black and white or colour, you can be in the picture or not, the size of the image maybe small or big and the location of the image maybe in front of them or to one side. These are just a few of the distinctions that can be made with regard to the pictures that people can imagine in their mind.

It is the images that people make in their mind that this article is about and how you can use that information effectively in your performance to create more wonder.

People who prefer thinking in picture do different things with their eyes (while they think and talk for more information on eye accessing cues) and use different words when they speak (see a lit of words and phrases). There are many other ways to spot people who are visual or who favour the visual way of thinking. The eye accessing cues and predicates (the words) are two very reliably methods especially when use in conjunction with each other.

It makes sense to use someone who is highly visual when performing any kind of ‘think of an image’ or ‘draw something…then think about what you drew” kind of effect. (If you are going to perform any kind of ‘touches’ effect, or suggest that someone ‘feels’ something, while the magic happens in their hands it is best to pick someone who is highly kinaesthetic, that is someone who thinks with their feelings. With someone like this you will get a much better response when attempting to make them ‘feel’ something.)

With this you tell someone information regarding the picture in their mind that you could only know, if you were able to read their mind (or the signals their mind give off) and of course that is what you are going to do!

As with the Red circle, Blue Square and Green triangle effect, you are to watch the person’s eyes so as to gain the information. You have chosen a visual person so it is easy for them to visualise an image in their minds eye and with your words you encourage them to ‘focus upon’ the image in their minds eye, you will have them ‘look at it in detail’. By using these kind of word you encourage them to continue to make the image in their mind and as they do this you will observe differences.

The first and most obvious to spot is, where they are looking. You can tell the person that they are imagining something and picturing it here (left/right and up/down), while pointing to where they are looking.

Next you can look at the focus of their eyes. Are they focusing on something close to them or are they picturing this in the distance. This will then give you the ability to locate it in three dimensions in space (left/right, up/down and depth).

Also with observation you can tell whether it is a small picture or a large image, again by looking closely at the way their eyes are moving and the focus of them. Are they squinting or staring into the distance.

This all sounds much harder to do when written down, doing it with people is easy. As an exercise ask a friend to picture something in their mind and make the image close to them, and then picture the same thing in their mind that is a long way from them, look at the differences, you will be surprised how easy it is to notice the differences. Do the same with having them picture something small and something large.

Given that you know what the content of the image is you can make an educated guess as to whether it is colour (the most likely) or in black and white or darkness/shadow.

Being able to tell the person just these basics of Submodalities: the location in space: left to right, up and down and the distance to them, as well as that the image is in colour or shadows and how big the picture they are visualising is are very powerful convincers that you are seeing the images in their mind.

Try with a friend the exercise (big image/small image and location in space calibration) and then start to make predictions or ‘readings’ of the images in the person mind you are performing for and see what reactions you get.

The more information that you can tell someone about the thoughts in their head the more you are mind reading them and the more you add the reality of your mind reading them.


  • Mark says:

    I SEE what you are SAYING I’m Sure people will FEEL like something amazing happened:-)

  • Tony says:

    I have been a magician/mentalist for over 50 years. I became aware of NLP about 15 years ago. Your sharing of valuable information, and the insights you have acquired through experience, is greatly appreciated. This type of information is not easily found in such handy form. Thank you.