Your hypnosis training classes likely focused on connecting with clients and how to guide someone to a hypnotic state. But they may not have covered how to translate those skills into entertainment. And YES – I know that “entertainment” may not be your goal, though keep reading this important update because the skills of the stage hypnotist are also the skills you need to do effective demonstrations and talks to promote your hypnotherapy! Stage hypnosis is a performance in front of large crowds to entertain rather than solve problems. While the skills needed to hypnotize participants are the same, there are some special considerations that don’t apply to therapeutic or coaching hypnosis.
Beginning even before your stage hypnosis performance starts and going through the moment you take your final bow, there are opportunities for making your show as successful and entertaining as possible. Here are some critical elements of a successful stage hypnosis show:
⁓Dress the stage.
If you can add props or furnishings to your stage, don’t neglect this aspect of your show. You want your setting to be dramatic but not take away from the people who will participate in your performance. Overdone staging can distract from the presentation. If the audience is busy examining the detailed art pieces you’ve placed in the background or focused on reading signs you’ve included in your set, they won’t pay attention to the heart of your act: the hypnosis.
Focus your staging on a few key pieces that look professional and add to the vibe you want to create for your show.
Include enough chairs for all your participants, perhaps a sign with the name of your act, and a few prop pieces that set the tone you want for your show. Are you a silly act, or do you focus on drama? Depending on your answer, you might have brightly colored chairs and a few funny props, or moody velvet seating and some decorations that look like they’ve been plucked out of a spooky Halloween party. There’s no correct answer to the question about your show’s vibe, but making sure you have a cohesive, clear approach will make your performance feel complete and professional. Even your outfit can help establish the mood.
⁓Prepare your audience.
As soon as your show begins, focus on controlling your audience’s attention. Let them know what to expect from your performance and ensure they understand what will be expected of and experienced by volunteers. That will make people more comfortable raising their hand to participate and help prevent unsuitable volunteers from ending up on stage with you.
As a stage hypnotist, you are a performer. You want your audience to be excited about your show even before the hypnosis begins. This excitement starts with the staging, which we’ve already discussed, but you can also use other elements. Pre-show music that plays while the audience is seated, different music or sound effects in the background while you make your opening remarks, pre-show announcements, and the opening of your show when you explain what will happen are all opportunities to build suspense and excitement.
You can make your guests laugh, set a mysterious tone, or create whatever mood fits the overall vibe of your show. Every moment from the time audience members enter the theater is an opportunity to hype them up and build excitement for what is to come.
⁓Ease their nerves.
Hypnotism isn’t well understood. Your audience members may feel nervous or anxious about what will come. If they are worried about someone being harmed or humiliated during the show, they won’t be able to relax and be entertained. And they certainly won’t be willing to volunteer to participate if they don’t understand the process or trust you.
Reassure them that no one will be forced or even asked to do anything they don’t want to do. State that your goal is to entertain, amuse, and show the incredible power of hypnosis, not to embarrass or expose anyone. Make these announcements interesting, referring back to that mood you settled on when creating your show. If your performance is intended to be family-friendly, this would also be an excellent time to acknowledge that.
Because some people fear hypnosis, you may have some initial concerns or discomfort to overcome. You will ease their fears once they know that everyone will be kept safe and that you will respect volunteers and audience members.
Anything you can do to help your audience feel comfortable but curious about what is to come will help create a relaxed, exciting atmosphere.
⁓Be thoughtful about volunteer selection.
An uncomfortable or unruly participant can ruin a show. Look for enthusiastic volunteers who signify their interest quickly and wholeheartedly. The guy who reluctantly raises his hands only after his friends beg and tease him to get him to do so may not have the openness required for you to quickly and easily hypnotize him. If a guest seems drunk, move on to someone else immediately. If someone is overly loud or indicates their interest in an especially assertive way, they may not be your best bet. Yes, they are enthusiastic, but they may be more concerned with being the center of attention than experiencing a hypnotic state.
As you learn stage hypnosis, you will get a better feel for volunteer selection. You will discover that you will rarely go wrong with someone who seems fun, enthusiastic, and excited without being out of control.
Since this is an essential part of your stage hypnosis show, give volunteer selection the attention and careful thought it deserves.
⁓Engage with confidence.
Aim to exude confidence in everything you do. This confidence will help the audience relax and enjoy your show. If you seem worried about the performance, the audience will feel anxious. That will hinder their ability to enjoy the show. It will also make it more difficult for your volunteers to enter a hypnotic trance.
⁓Roll with the punches.
Before your first show, you’ve likely practiced your performance multiple times, memorized a script, or at least created an outline for how things will go. But life and stage hypnosis are both filled with surprises. When these unexpected events inevitably occur, don’t let them throw you off your game.
If you have an intoxicated heckler, you’ll need to work around them while staying calm and in control of the performance. If a stage light burns out, either ignore it or use it as an opportunity to entertain. If your show’s vibe is spooky, that flickering light becomes an opportunity to suggest that perhaps the spirits are already at work. If you are going for a comedic effect, turn it into a self-deprecating remark about how much more pleasant things will be if the audience no longer has to see your ugly mug.
Don’t let unexpected events distract you from your performance or create awkward moments in your show.
Paying attention to these details and skills can help ensure your stage hypnosis performance thrills audiences and garners rave reviews.