Do you ever (perhaps secretly!) daydream of being on stage, surrounded by an adoring audience who hang on to your every word? Even better, do you fantasise about being able to read the minds of your audience members, guessing a number they’ve just thought of, or placing a word in their imagination and amazing everyone with your telepathic abilities? If all of this sounds like your kind of fun (and fame!), then perhaps you were born to work as a mentalist.

But what on earth is a mentalist? And how do you even become one?

Mentalism as a skill-set

There are many similarities between a mentalist and a magician, but while a magician might be using various props – from cards to hats to rabbits – the only real ‘prop’ a mentalist needs is the mind of a willing audience member. Using their advanced knowledge of human psychology, body language, hypnosis and mental influence, memory tricks and many other skills, a mentalist is able to create an illusion of mind-reading and telepathy during their show.

So what do you need to do in order to become a mentalist?

You could begin by booking a private performance so that you can see this kind of act up close. Once you have witnessed this mind-blowing (pun intended!) show first-hand, you’d be better equipped to decide if mentalism could be a possible career for you. There is no doubt that this is a profession which requires extensive training. But if you’re in it for the long run, read on for what you’d need to do to get started in the business.

Mentalism as a performance art

Firstly, you would need to study the specific techniques that are crucial to mentalism, such as cold reading, psychological manipulation and mind-reading tricks. You would have to become proficient at reading people’s body language and really understand human psychology.

But all of the above skills wouldn’t be enough on their own. You would also need to master the art of performance because mentalism is, first and foremost, an entertaining show. Whether you do it at home just to amaze a group of close friends, or you dream of being on TV or the big stage, like Darren Brown or Max Maven, you’d need to become an expert in presentation and storytelling.

While you’re waiting for your ‘big break’, you could earn an income by performing at corporate events, and private parties, and even offering workshops or training sessions for other budding mentalists. A one-hour booking for a mentalist performance could earn you upwards of $150, while top mentalists can be paid anywhere from $15,000 to as high as $40,000 per show. Becoming the next big mentalism star would, undoubtedly, take many years of practice and great commitment to your art. It would require constant focus and dedication to honing all of those skills to perfection. But what you could receive in return is a well-paid career doing something that amazes people around you and gives everyone a little bit of a belief in magic.