What Is A Hypnosis Pre-Talk?

by Joshua Houghton on April 7, 2008

When I first got started in hypnosis, I went around to everyone I knew asking to hypnotize them. Most of the people said no, but a few of them agreed to “try” hypnosis. These people knew nothing about hypnosis, but being a confident newcomer, I didn’t feel I had to educate them on the subject. I figured all I had to do was copy some Youtube videos I’d seen.

I knew I could hypnotize someone if I just followed the videos I had watched. Looking back, I think I may have been too confident in myself. This can blow up in your face sometimes. I walked up to a friend, told him to press on my hand, and close his eyes. The moment he started to apply pressure to my hand, I yelled “sleep” in a deep voice.

As I yelled sleep, I knew I was going to be successful. I glanced up to see what a person in hypnosis looks like in real life and got a surprise. His eyes were wide open; he looked at me and asked, ‘Did it work?’ My hurt ego took a moment to recover, and I answered ‘No, it didn’t work, and I’m not sure why…’

Banging My Head Against A Hypnotic Wall

I had spent a week studying the videos and followed what I’d seen the hypnotist do on the video. I had no idea what was wrong and was about to chalk it up that he was one of the few people who couldn’t be hypnotized. Wow, I had a really big ego back then. I had some nerve assuming this was the case when it was my very first attempt at hypnotizing someone. Due to a lack of financial means, I couldn’t afford formal training.

My education came from all the free e-books floating around and several YouTube videos. I assumed that hypnosis was just as easy as yelling ‘Sleep!’ This obviously wasn’t the case. There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than I first realized. It wasn’t until my friend lent me a video by Hypnosis Trainer Gerald Kein that I learned. That video gave me the tools I needed and changed my future. The hypnotist in the video mentioned how important it is to discuss hypnosis with the person before attempting to hypnotize them. He made the statement that put it all into place for me.

A person will only refuse to enter hypnosis based on the fear they have of the subject. I had been trying to enter a locked door without the key.  I now had the necessary key to succeed. The key to getting a person to enter hypnosis is the Pre-Talk.

The Power Of A Good Hypnosis Pre-Talk

So the next question is, ‘What is a Pre-Talk?’ A pre-talk can be a long or brief talk about what hypnosis is. It should address any fears the person may have about hypnosis. You basically address some of the rumors and myths about hypnosis and explain the truth to the person. Let them know they are not asleep during hypnosis; they can still hear you speaking during hypnosis. Let the person know he or she is in control and will never do anything against their moral or ethics.

You want them to feel comfortable with hypnosis and give them the real facts. Society has programmed the general public with misconceptions of hypnosis. People think we perform some type of black magic, or we control their minds. So you must become the expert and explain the truth to them.

It makes a lot of sense. Looking back, I can’t believe I never thought of it before. Think about this for a moment. Would you skydive off of a plane if you were afraid of heights? You might really want to experience it, but due to your fear, you just can’t make that jump. Have you ever wanted to do anything in your life, but some fear held you back? If so, then you may have an idea about what might be going through the head of the person you are about to hypnotize. They don’t know what to expect and may be afraid, even if they don’t tell you so.

What’s Next In The Hypnosis Pre-talk?

The next part of the pre-talk is simple and is used more when using rapid or instant induction techniques. You must build up the person’s expectations of what to expect. You basically  tell them that if they do exactly as you say, nothing more and nothing less, they will enter a wonderful, relaxed, deep state of hypnosis, and they will feel great. You want them to associate something good to the experience.

Let them know how good it’s going to feel, or how relaxed they are going to be when they enter hypnosis. Once you build this up, all you have to do is one more thing. You must ask permission to hypnotize the person.

I usually use something called the hypnotic contract. I basically tell the person, ‘If you do exactly as I say, nothing more and nothing less, you will enter a wonderful state of hypnosis. If you do this for me, I will make sure to take care of you, and no harm will come to you. If this is acceptable to you, are you ready to go into hypnosis?’ As you can see, I compounded the statement with repeating it twice, and the final step is added right onto the end of the contract.

This makes the person feel you respect them by asking them formal permission. It also gives the person permission for them to enter hypnosis, since all hypnosis is just self hypnosis. Once you have all of this in place, all you have to do is perform your rapid induction and watch the person enter hypnosis quickly and easily.

You Must Develop Confidence In Yourself and Hypnosis

A little tip to remember is to make sure you deliver your pre-talk with confidence. Confidence is a huge part of successful hypnosis. You will also find as you get better and better, you will be able to get this pre-talk down within a few minutes. For many beginners, learning how to be confident can be one of the hardest things to overcome. As my friend Nathan Thomas says in his Confident Hypnotist program, “Confidence begins in the mind”. All this means is that Confidence is a state of mind, and the more you think you are confident, the more confident you’ll become.

The pre-talk is the most important part of what we do as hypnotists. The pre-talk allows us to educate people and makes the client or person feel comfortable with us and comfortable enough to go into hypnosis. I recommend any beginner who is serious about the field of hypnotism to study hypnosis and learn the truth behind the rumors. This will help you in developing your own pre-talk. In the end, just remember to eliminate fears, build up the clients expectations, and get permission.

I hope this post helped you to understand the importance of The Pre-Talk.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony June 3, 2008 at 6:43 AM

It makes me wonder why dont the big pro guys do pre-talk when they do instant inductions, Peter Powers especially. They can just go up to someone and say hey want to be hypnotised, and they do it and it works. Peter powers can just go up to anyone, snap his fingers and say sleep. What do you feel about this?

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Josh June 3, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Hello Anthony,

You posed a very good question and something I may address in the future. I only know a little bit about Peter Powers from what I have also seen on Youtube. Some of his videos are funny, but they can give people the wrong idea about hypnosis.

When Peter ask someone if they want to be hypnotized and they say yes they have just given Peter Permission to hypnotize them. This is called a hypnotic contract and it is basically just getting permission from the person to allow you to help them enter hypnosis. Technically speaking all you have to do is ask a person if they want too experience hypnosis. If they reply yes, then they may be ready to go. I do recommend a person have a working knowledge of hypnosis before attempting it of course.

The reason I and many other hypnotist give a pre-talk is so that we can educate the public even if it’s only one person at a time. Plus, you just never know if someone has a fear which could keep them from entering a deep state of hypnosis. Fear of hypnosis or fear of something they may learn during hypnosis can keep a person from entering trance. Street Hypnosis is very similar to stage hypnosis in the fact that people want to have fun and a excuse to act up or act a little crazy. In reality many different elements work together to create a deep level of trance within the person during a stage show or even street hypnosis show. The truth is that no one person will ever act the same in hypnosis. It is a very personal experience and different for each person. So you may get some people who really act a fool and some who are very timid.

My field of work is clinical hypnosis or in other words working with people to help manage different situations in their lives such as Smoking Cessation, Stress Management, Weight Loss and etc. In a clinical or office setting, the client is more uneasy then during a stage show. They are not coming to see me because they want to have fun. They are coming to see me because in their eyes I may be the last hope. They have been to many people before us and many of them come to us as a last resort. Many of our clients are scared at first because hypnosis is new to them. They only know that hypnosis may be helpful, but are also blinded by the myths and lies of the entertainment world. So its important to educate them and tell them the truth. This also helps to build rapport between you and the client.

So as far as just getting simple permission you will find it works some of the time and not all the time. As you get better and learn more your success rate with increase. I’m now able to hypnotize anyone as long as they give permission within a couple of seconds, but in the beginning it wasn’t as easy. I have seen the videos where Peter appears to just snap his fingers and then the person enters a deep state of hypnosis. Personally I believe that the majority of the people on his street hypnosis show and youtube clips have been pre-hypnotized. All this means is that he has worked with them before the show and has conditioned them to enter a deep state of hypnosis very quickly. Many times just the snap of a finger will send them back into trance. It may look like everyone is hypnotized on the stop, but that’s the magic of TV editing sometimes. I’m not saying all of the people have been hypnotized before hand, but a good majority have. It just makes good TV :)

Other Hypnotists such as Paul Mckenna and Tom Silver have had TV shows or specials dealing with hypnosis where they worked with people before hand. I like the fact that Tom tells his audience he has hypnotized them ahead of time. As we know the
producers have to edit the show to fit within the time frame they have. Editing also makes it appear as if every single person who is hypnotized actually reaches trance. The truth of the matter is editing plays a big part in this as well. Understand I am refering to a success rate just doing nothing more then asking permission. A well trained hypnotist can have a very high success rate, but beginners and middle skilled hypnotists will not be as successful. A well trained hypnotist understands the principals of hypnosis, inductions, suggestion formation and ethics. These skills combined can give you a very high success rate when combined with confidence, which is a skill that all hypnotists should have in my opinion.

So technically when doing street hypnosis you can just walk up to someone ask for permission and go from there, but I highly recommend you always do a pre-talk even if it’s just a quick 60 second one. I promise you that your success rate will be much higher and it also screams credibility. We also now have one more person in the world that understands what we do is a science and not magic. Even though it’s fun for some people to think we are mystical :)

I hope this answered your question and if not, let me know and i’m more then willing to help. Anytime you have a question just shoot me a comment or a e-mail at josh at southernhypnosis dot com (spelled out to reduce spam)

Have a good one Anthony :)

Reply

Luis C. Lopez June 5, 2008 at 12:17 AM

Josh,

I agree with you, with poor pretalk you work your tail off to hypnotized any one, people are scared about hypnosis because the lack of righ info.
I learned strage hypnosi form Tom Silver, Marshall Sylver, Justin Tranz and Tomme Vee, all of them talked about the prower of pretalked. for my own experience the pretalk is the 50% of my induction.

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Josh June 5, 2008 at 12:49 AM

Hey Luis,

It’s nice to have you on the site. I’m a member of Hypnothoughts as well. Yeah, I think the biggest mistake beginners make is not using a pre-talk. Technically a good pre-talk can drop someone into trance ;)

I have always wanted to meet Justin Tranz. I get a kick out of some of his stage shows. If you have a website you would like me to list drop me a line.

Thanks,
Joshua Houghton, CH

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luis eduardo September 29, 2008 at 10:47 PM

Hypnosis – Reality is Plastic in you tube appears two videos in which it hypnotizes to somebody I
believe that without permission. in fact because I speak Spanish but
if somebody could write to me what so that says I take I do not make a
will myself and to translate it to understand it would be thankful to
him calls the attention to me these videos wanted to understand the
terms that use excuse if some things of my message well are not
translated

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John October 3, 2008 at 9:39 AM

A little response to Josh and instant inductions. There is ALWAYS a pre-talk. It might be before the show, before the camera is turned on… it might even have been a different day, but there is ALWAYS a pre-talk. It might be short, it might be long… but without it, you have a 1% chance of hypnotizing people.

A well-known hypnotist actually put this to the test and video taped himself trying instant inductions for about 6 hours. I think he got one person out of hundreds.

Usually, the faster the induction, the longer the talk. The talk may have happened before the show, or it may have happened at a previous time – a previous show, etc. but the person needs to know what is expected. If you’ve previousl hypnotized someone and then re-induced them using and instant induction… you can literally walk up to them off the street and do a handshake induction and they’ll go right into trance.

Remember, with a show and ESPECIALLY a video what you THINK you are seeing is rarely the ENTIRE picture. If you watch a 5 or 10 minute YouTube video, you could see someone walk up any instant induct 10 people… what you might not see if the 10 minute pre-talk he gave to them before he “walked up”.

If a hypnotist is being honest, they’ll tell you that the better your pre-talk, the better your induction will be…. and honestly… the more volunteers you will get.

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Joshua Houghton October 3, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Hey John,

Great Info and I completely agree that a pre-talk is always present even if they don’t know that is what it is or its reframed as something else. The entire purpose of this article is to explain how important the pre-talk is. The pre-talk is the difference between success or failure.

Even good friends like Sean Michael Andrew use pre-talks before his videos, but as John and I said earlier they cut that scene out as to make the video more entertaining. Even though I enjoy a good pre-talk myself. As I mentioned earlier you can get permission and hypnotize someone without a pre-talk, but its very rare and if so the experience will be less than great. Your success rate will be awful, trust me as I learned from experience. 9 times out of 10 nothing will happen. Build up, expectation and removing fear are so important. Great Info John and happy to have you hear.

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Rick Freswell May 19, 2009 at 12:29 AM

Hey everyone, Great information! I was in San Diego recently
and saw a hypnotist at a seminar named Jim Lutes. I have never seen someone so skilled. I know that there are other great ones as well.
He had a unique style. Keep the info coming
Rick

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Jay October 29, 2009 at 5:12 AM

You mentioned it briefly, but establishing rapport is a huge benefit to a pre-talk.

Also, I look at the pre-talk as “stacking the deck” in favor of a successful session. The more things you can remove as potential distractions, the more likely the session will be a success.

For example, letting the subject know that they will hear everything going on, no matter how deeply they are relaxed. Their ears do not turn off. Stating just this alone, to a first time subject, before a session, increases the success rate enormously. Otherwise, hearing the slightest sound outside the hypnotist’s voice can become a distraction, and affect the depth of trance.

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Julia February 5, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Thanks for this well written explanation of Pre Talk. I feel more confident in pursuing the field of hypnotism knowing more about this aspect of it.

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Joshua Houghton February 27, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Your welcome Julia. I’m glad I could help :)

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samuel March 26, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Hmmmm very interesting all the differnet opinions, and of course, very respectable, though maybe not all that accurate. The truth is that the pre talk is really most needed only when using the kind of hypnosis procedure whereby you as operator have to tell the subject that he is going to be hypnotised,in other words, he already knows in advance that some kind of procedure is going to take place. The fact is however, that nowadays most of the hypnosis being used does not include the pretalk, mainly due to one of two factors: a- We live in a much more informed society and most people know something about hypnosis, and are much less afraid to try it than say 20 years ago. Indeed most young people today are willing to try almost anything. b-And this is very important, the hypnosis used today is mainly of the kind of SLEIGHT OF MOUTH or COVERT HYPNOSIS, where the last thing you want is for the subject to know what you are doing, and hence the only step you can not do without is that of trespassing the critical factor. All that being said, I’d agree that in HETEROHYPNOSIS, and for use on a first time subject, the pretalk is always very helpful.

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