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Introduction

This is a great little effect that I use a lot when I’m out and about. It’s perfect for close-up situations at bars, parties, and clubs or just out in the street.

It uses a couple of props, but the props are so innocent and so minimal that the effect remains strong and direct. The presentation provided here is one of subliminal influence – but you can adapt the effect to simulate any type of mental ability.

The basic effect goes like this: You write down a number on a slip of paper and then seal it inside an envelope so it cannot be tampered with. You then tell a very short story about numbers and then suddenly ask the person to name the number that they think is inside the envelope. Amazingly, they have been subliminally influenced by the story which causes them to name the number you have written down. What’s more – you can actually show them exactly how the story influenced their choice.

Read on to discover exactly what the audience sees and hears, then discover the method!

What the Audience See

Imagine... you’re at a party and you want to perform something close-up for a special someone. You take them to one side and say…

You: Let’s try something. I’m going to write something down on this piece of paper, but I’m not going to tell you quite what it is yet. All you need to do is focus on me for a moment. OK – yep that’s what we’re going to go for. Done. Here, take hold of the pen…

You: What I need you to do is stand facing me. Mirror how  I’m standing, look me right in the eye and just let your imagination run wild.

You:  Here's a story, One day at 10 am, for two hours I felt sick after I  ate five, or was it seven packets of sweets. I did count, but I couldn't add up all the sweets I ate - but it was a multiple of 9 - and if you divide the number I stressed seven times you'll have the answer So quick! What is the number, between 1 and 99

that is inside the envelope? Tell me the first one you are thinking of.

Jane:     Um, er, 57.

You:      Just to be clear that’s fifty-seven – five, seven – is that right? Jane:  Yes

You:      Here, take the envelope – open it. Read what’s inside. Jane: What!!!! 57! How on earth did you do that!

You:   Influence. It’s all in the things I say, and I think we are just on the same wavelength, so we are tuned into the subtle cues and signals that slip out when we speak.

Jane: Sure, but how come you can influence my thinking that easily. I mean I didn’t notice you saying anything that was actually influencing me. I guess it had something to do with the story?

You: Well it takes a lot of time and practice to deliberately influence people like that – but yes, if you listened to that back, you’d be able to pick out the little things I was saying to get you to think of 57.

Jane: That is so amazing. I’d love to be able to do that sort of thing. It must be so useful. So what exactly were you doing to cause me to think of 57?

You: Well, I don’t know if you noticed my hand? I was repeatedly waving this hand with my 5 fingers outstretched, and when I said ‘quick, what is the number’ and lifted my open hand towards your face. So that took care of the 5, then I stressed the “I ate five or was it seven packets of sweets” as I was telling the story. I mean it’s not 100%, but I’m getting a pretty good success rate with it lately – and it helps when you’ve got a good relationship with the person you’re trying to influence.

You:       Crazy! You HAVE to teach me how to do some of this stuff.

Basic Secret:

This is a pretty devious effect which is a disguise for the tried and tested nail writer/swami gimmick effect. In case you aren’t familiar with such effects, I’ll quickly explain it – then describe how “Think of a Number” takes it to the next level.

A nail writer/swami gimmick is a small device that fits over your finger and allows you to secretly write. They come in a bunch of different styles

– some look like tiny flesh-colored rubber bands with a pencil lead or ink pen on the front. Others are tiny metal devices that fit under the fingernail. Some people even use skin-colored ‘thumb tips’ with a pencil embedded into the end.

A typical swami gimmick effect would go something like this… You ask someone to think of a letter of the alphabet; after a moment of concentration you pretend to write a letter on a piece of paper; then you put the pencil down on the table; you ask the person what letter they are thinking of; they tell you; you secretly write the letter using the nail writer – then show them the piece of paper.

This alone is a really powerful trick, but it is a reasonably well-known principle – so it is best to disguise the methodology as much as possible.

In “Think of a Number”, you write your prediction and then put it inside an envelope – meaning that you can’t even get at the paper using a nail writer. So how does it work?

Well – the envelope is gimmicked so that any pressure felt on the outside is transferred to the paper inside. The performance of the effect is pretty much the same. You pretend to write, then you put the blank paper in the envelope. You ask the person what number they are thinking of, then with a dried out nail writer you secretly trace the number on the outside of the envelope. The special envelope transfers this tracing to the paper. You then hand the envelope to the participant – they remove the paper from the closed envelope and see that you correctly read their mind!

An Almost Free Nail Writer

First of all – nail writers are cheap. You can go and grab one on eBay or your local magic store for just a couple of dollars. It’s well worth having one, so I encourage you to buy one as soon as you can – it makes this effect easier and there are so many other uses for them. No self-respecting mentalist can be without one so go spend a dollar or two and order one now.

But… since you only need to apply pressure – you don’t actually need anything that can really ‘write’. On several occasions, I’ve improvised with a tiny stone or piece of metal and a piece of “3M Scotch Invisible Tape”.

When you put this stuff on your finger and squeeze the air out – it really is invisible. You can walk around with it all day long and it will never be noticed. In short – it's going to fall off before it gets spotted. What you can do is just find a little sharp stone, or any other tiny hard object – and tape it to the pad of your thumb.

You’ve now got something hard that you can apply pressure with – perfect for creating an impression through the envelope.

Making and Using the Envelope

The gimmicked envelope is very cheap and pretty easy to make. There are three main ways that I’ve used to construct suitable envelopes – each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. I’ll deal with them each in turn and you can decide which you prefer.

Carbon Paper

Carbon paper is the old-school option. If you are a youngster, you might not even know what it is. Personally, I’ve not seen it being used outside of mentalism for quite a few years now. That said, someone must be buying it, since you can still get it from stationery stores and online.

It’s a sort of thin wax-covered film. The idea is that you can put it between two sheets of paper with the waxy side down. When you write on the top sheet of paper, the pressure from the pen will transfer some of the wax onto the bottom sheet.

What you need to do is cut a square of carbon paper and with a tiny bit of glue or tape, stick it to the inside of your envelope. Make sure you have the waxy side pointing inwards. Now when a slip of paper is put inside the envelope, any pressure on the outside will transfer some wax from the carbon paper to the paper.

The advantage of this method is that the impression made by carbon paper comes out beautifully dark. The disadvantage is that carbon paper can be pretty messy. You have to be quite careful not to get the inky wax all over your hands, and naturally, you need to be careful that you don’t get the wax on the outside of the envelope. The other thing to watch out for is that carbon paper is normally pretty dark – black or blue – and envelopes are normally white or light brown. I normally affix quite a small piece of carbon paper inside the envelope so that it only reaches from the bottom to about halfway up. This massively decreases the chances that a spectator will spot it inside the envelope.

NCR Paper

NCR paper is another type of paper that can make duplicates but uses a different technology. It looks like normal paper but has an invisible coating on the outside. Normally there is a different chemical printed on each side of the paper, so when you stack two sheets, the different chemicals face each other. When pressure is applied (like with a pen), the chemicals react and look like a pencil mark.

To prepare an envelope with NCR paper you have two options:

The first is to prepare a regular envelope in the same way as described for the carbon paper. Take one piece of carbon paper, stick it to the inside – but then use another piece of carbon paper as the “slip” that you put inside. As long as the correct sides of the paper are facing each other, you’ll get an impression when you write on the outside. Because you can use white paper and a white envelope, it’s much easier to hide the extra piece of paper stuck to the inside.

The second (and better) way is to construct your own envelope from NCR paper. I’ve included a template for a small envelope that you can use at the end of the book. This means there is no need to stick an extra piece of paper inside the envelope since the envelope itself is made of NCR. You just need to make sure you use the right side of the paper.

The good thing about NCR paper is that it is pretty widely available. It’s very likely that you’ll find several varieties in your local stationery store. Often it comes pre-printed with business forms/charts – but it is available plain as well.

Self-Contained Paper

Self-contained paper, also known as SC Paper, Action Paper, or Impact Paper is the best of all! It is essentially NCR paper, but with both chemicals on the same side. It means that you can put it under a normal piece of paper and it will produce an impression of whatever is written.

The advantage here is that you can use normal envelopes and simply use SC paper as the slip that you pretend to write on and then seal in the envelope.

This makes it super-easy and fast to perform. You can buy a stack of small envelopes and SC paper, chop it up to the correct size and you’ll be good to go for ages. You can keep a few envelopes and slips of SC paper in your wallet and you’ll always be good to perform. Obviously, because there are no ‘extra’ bits of paper stuck inside the envelope, there is nothing to hide from the participant – which is always a plus!

The disadvantage is that SC paper isn’t as widely available. You can get it online on various stationary sites, eBay and any local print shop will also be able to order it for you. It is commonly sold on rolls designed to fit in cash registers for the printing of receipts.

To Reinforce or not to Reinforce?

Since these methods all require pressure, some people find it difficult to apply enough pressure to get a good enough impression. Personally, I wear my nail writer on my thumb, so when I’m writing with it, I can press my other fingers against the back of the envelope to generate pressure.

If you have real difficulty in getting a good impression, you can experiment with making the envelope stiffer. It’s possible to buy envelopes with a card backing, otherwise, if you are making your own envelope you can build a piece of card in. Just make sure that you don’t make your invisible and totally unsuspicious prop look weird.

Script and Methodology

Here follows a scripted example of exactly what the audience witnesses during the effect. Some of these words are unimportant and you can modify them without worry. Others are essential to the performance and will need careful consideration should you wish to change them.

You: Let’s try something. I’m going to write something down on this piece of paper, but I’m not going to tell you quite what it is yet. All you need to do is focus on me for a moment. OK – yep that’s what we’re going to go for. Done. Here, take hold of the pen…

Notice how I don’t state what is about to happen. Since we are going to claim to be using influence through our words and actions – the last thing we want is for Jane to think of a number before we’ve got round to giving our little story.

You: What I need you to do is stand facing me. Mirror how  I’m standing, look me right in the eye and just let your imagination run wild and concentrate.

This further adds to the plausibility of influencing Jane. It’s widely believed that mirroring people’s body language aids in building rapport and influence – and obviously it is logical to think that people will be better influenced if they are concentrating.

You:  Here's a story, One day at 10 am, for two hours I felt sick after I  ate five, or was it seven packets of sweets. I did count, but I couldn't add up all the sweets I ate - but it was a multiple of 9 - and if you divide the number I stressed seven times you'll have the answer So quick! What is the number, between 1 and 99

that is inside the envelope? Tell me the first one you are thinking of.

This semi-gibberish story is our plausible explanation for how we are actually going to perform the effect. The idea is that whatever number

Jane is thinking of, we can relate it back to this mini-story. We’ll discuss this aspect of the effect later.

Jane: Um, er, 57.

As soon as you hear the number, you start tracing 57 onto the envelope with your nail writer. It should only take a second, and what you can do is a gesture with the envelope as you are writing – this disguises any movement that might be seen.

You:      Just to be clear that’s fifty-seven – five, seven – is that right? Jane:  Yes

This question and response is simply to give yourself a couple of seconds to write what you need to before handing over the envelope.

You:      Here, take the envelope – open it. Read what’s inside. Jane: What!!!! 57! How on earth did you do that!

You:   Influence. It’s all in the things I say, and I think we are just on the same wavelength, so we are tuned into the subtle cues and signals that slip out when we speak.

Often the effect can end here. People are so amazed by what has happened and have probably seen mentalism before, so they simply accept that what you are doing is very possible. But sometimes, people dig a little deeper – and if they want to dig deeper, that’s fine!

Jane: Sure, but how come you can influence my thinking that easily. I mean I didn’t notice you saying anything that was actually influencing me. I guess it had something to do with the story?

You: Well it takes a lot of time and practice to deliberately influence people like that – but yes, if you listened to that back, you’d be able to pick out the little things I was saying to get you to think of 57.

This is my ‘vague’ explanation for what has happened. Again, this will satisfy a good proportion of people. It is also the perfect moment to launch straight into another effect as another example of your powers.

Jane: That is so amazing. I’d love to be able to do that sort of thing. It must be so useful. So what exactly were you doing to cause me to think of 57?

Ok, so this person is really digging deep. But that’s ok, in some ways it makes the effect even stronger. If someone thought it was just a ‘trick’ they wouldn’t even bother asking – we just need to weave a convincing explanation for specifically ‘how’ you influenced their thought. The good news is that our little story contains every number (if you pronounce story

– to three and sick – six), but also add, multiply, divide, and the fact we could have been using body language. What’s more, everything has happened so fast – the details of exactly what was said will already be getting hazy for Jane and therefore easy to link to her thought of number.

You: Well, I don’t know if you noticed my hand? I was repeatedly waving this hand with my 5 fingers outstretched, and when I said ‘quick, what is the number’ and lifted my open hand towards your face. So that took care of the 5, then I stressed the “I ate five or was it seven packets of sweets” as I was telling the story. I mean it’s not 100%, but I’m getting a pretty good success rate with it lately – and it helps when you’ve got a good relationship with the person you’re trying to influence.

Obviously what you say here will depend on the number that Jane thinks of. This is where practice comes in. If you practice lots and learn to create decent links between the story and the chosen number – this can be the most impressive part of the whole effect.

You: Crazy, you HAVE to teach me how to do some of this stuff.

Linking the Number to the Story

The story provided in the script is just an example. I’ve used variations on that theme, but feel free to change it to something more obscure, or less obscure. You could tell a story 3 times longer, or you could just count 1-9 twice. You just need a story to act as your fake method of influence – that way your performance doesn’t come across as a trick – it comes across as the real thing!

So how can you relate the story to the number being thought of?

Body Language & Visual Cues

The good thing about suggesting that body language is all or part of your method is that Jane will never remember what you were actually doing. She is focusing on the story and looking you in the eye remember! You can say that you were doing pretty much anything and she will readily accept it.

So you can say that you had a certain number of fingers outstretched. You can say that you were making the shape of a number with your entire body – standing straight with hands by sides for “1” both arms out at shoulder height for “7” etc. You can say that you nodded as you mentioned certain numbers. You can say that you blinked a certain number of times when you asked Jane to look you in the eye. You can claim to have traced the shape of numbers with your hands. A really nice touch is to actually trace a number on the ground. If you are stood on a duty/sandy/gravel based surface, you can often draw a number with your foot – and then point to this as evidence of your influence. You can of course also incorporate environmental factors. If you spot a two-digit number on a building or sign – just keep it in mind. If the person happens to pick that number – you can just point to it printed up on the wall and claim she was affected by subliminal influence.

Subliminal Verbal Suggestion

Most simply you can claim to have stressed certain sounds in the story. So you can claim to have stressed “sweets I ate” to suggest that you were influencing her to pick 8. Since all the numbers are mentioned at least once in the story, this is an easy method. You just make a similar claim for whatever the second digit was and you are done.

To give another example, if she was thinking of 97, you could say that you stressed the 9 and 7 in the sentence, and they are in the middle of the story – and you know people are most likely to pick things in the middle anyway (or at least – that is what you can say!)

In reality, Jane won’t be able to remember the specifics of the story, so you can even make up features that weren’t there in the first place to create the most compelling explanation imaginable. Obviously, if you are being filmed, you need to be a little bit careful here – but if you are just performing for one person, or a small group – make up whatever you need to!

The story also includes adding, multiply, divide (and because you missed out minus, you can suggest that people will automatically think of it because it has been left out.) This means that you can create mathematical explanations for the influence you are exerting. So they think of the number 24, you can suggest that you highlighted the words “ate” “for” and multiply (8x4=24). Providing your mental arithmetic is good, you can think up really complex explanations.

Using some or all of these options gives you a pretty wide range of methods that allow you to link your story to the thought of number. Experiment and see what you find works best for you personally!

Closing Notes

Hopefully, you’ve got a good idea of exactly what you need to do to put this effect into your repertoire. It only takes a bit of practice before you’ll be ready for action.

I’d like to leave you with the thought of replacing the “story” with something different altogether. With just a simple change to this section of the effect, you can transform it easily into something new!

You could leave the story out completely and instead claim that you are using telepathy to transmit to them the number you have written down.

Or, again missing out on the story – you could produce a spooky-looking doll and tell a story about how the owner of the doll was killed as a child. You could ask the person to hold the doll for a moment and ask them to try and pick up on the dead child’s name. You can give them a clue and say it is a short name. This means, rather than a number – you just have to write a short word through the envelope.

Alternatively, if you want to stay with the subliminal influence theme, you could replace the story with a short video, a painting, or a magazine. Ask them to look at whatever you choose and think of a number. Then it’s just a matter of relating whatever they think of back to the object.

As always, if you have any problems performing; if you have feedback; or if you want to share your own variations, get in touch with me via email. I hope you have fun with the effect!

Source: FreeMentalism.com

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