Street hypnosis is growing in popularity, and can be seen taking place all over the world in different areas with people of different cultures and ages, because it is a fantastic form of ‘street entertainment’. But how does street hypnosis work and how do you do it? Well, let’s first start by asking a question:
What is street hypnosis?
Street hypnosis is the term given to impromptu/unplanned hypnosis demonstrations that are performed in public locations, usually with members of the general public. Generally, street hypnosis is entertainment-focused, rather than being therapy-based. There are a number of reasons that you might choose to become a street hypnotist. Street hypnotists like to demonstrate the power of hypnosis to the general public, some wish to entertain their volunteers and the audience (audience, in this case, being people in the general area, or those passing by). Also, as well as entertaining and educating, street hypnosis is a fantastic tool for promoting your own hypnotic services as a stage hypnotist or hypnotherapist. And yes, it’s true that you can be both a hypnotherapist and a street hypnotist! The same with stage hypnotists too. The main difference between stage, street and therapy is the location/setup. Stage hypnotists perform pre-booked shows in theatres/on stages. Hypnotherapists perform their hypnotherapy sessions in a therapy rooms (or in a similar private location) with their clients who have pre-booked (and also with no audience). In contrast, street hypnotists perform anywhere, with anyone, at any time.
The street hypnosis process
The street hypnosis process is made up of a number of components, which, when followed will result in a short but entertaining performance, and will usually get a lot of interest from the general public and people passing by. Let’s break down the process into its individual components. We’ll start with where you might choose to do street hypnosis.
Choosing a street hypnosis location
Street hypnosis can literally be performed anywhere, name a location, you can probably do street hypnosis there. However, there are a couple of things to consider when choosing your street hypnosis location. Are there going to be people walking around or walking past, or will they be stationary/sat down? Will there be a variety of people (such as on a busy shopping street), or will the same people be in the area the whole time (such as at a bar/restaurant)? Is there lots of noise that might stop someone being able to hear you properly (such as at a dance club)? Are there any potential hazards (such as vehicles, uneven floors, animals and people, etc.)? All of the above is worth considering when choosing your location, so that you are able to manage your street hypnosis performance as easily as possible. Sure, you’ll never be able to know what’s going to happen 100% of the time, but it is good to have a handle on the situation before you start your street hypnosis demonstration. However, fundamentally, you are able to perform your street hypnosis routines anywhere, at any time.
Approaching your potential street hypnosis volunteers
When you’re in your chosen location, you then have to find people to perform street hypnosis with – your volunteers. This means you’re likely going to be approaching random people, individuals, pairs and groups, and asking them if they’d like to experience hypnosis, ‘see something cool’, or inviting them to get hypnotised in any other number of ways. Be aware that some people (potentially half or more of the people you ask) will say they do not want to participate, and that’s fine, don’t take it personally. They probably have nothing against you, but they have other stuff that they need to be doing, or they just don’t want to. If someone does not want to participate, thank them and move on to the next person/group.
When approaching and talking with your potential volunteers, consider your skills of rapport-building. If you’re a hypnotherapist or hypnotist, you likely have fantastic rapport building skills already, as they are often necessary in the business of hypnosis. However, if you do not know much about building rapport and getting people to interact with you, take some time to learn about it. Eye contact, smiling, being confident in yourself and your abilities… All of these elements (and others) will help people trust you more, and will give you a better uptake rate when searching for street hypnosis volunteers. Rapport is important!
Test your street hypnosis volunteers suggestibility & check for compliance
Next, it’s great to do a ‘warm up exercise’ or ‘suggestibility test’ with your street hypnosis volunteers. The main reason for this is to figure out how they physically respond to suggestions. This is important because you’re going to be performing a hypnosis demonstration that is designed to entertain, and if you have someone that does not respond well to suggestion, the demonstration is less likely to be entertaining! A suggestibility test is also a great way to ‘ease people into it’. It’s much less scary for someone who has not experienced hypnosis before to do a warm up exercise first, rather than jumping straight into hypnosis. There are a lot of suggestibility tests to choose from (as you will know if you’ve read my rapid induction guidebook), so you have a lot of flexibility in what you do during this stage.
Another useful thing to add in during the pre-hypnosis stage is checking for compliance. Ask your volunteers, subtly, to do little things in order that you can see how they respond (or if they actively do not respond). Rearranging people is often an easy way to do this. Simply say, ‘could you just come and stand over here for me’ and direct them to a point. Having people comply with your suggestions before the hypnosis process begins is a sure-fire way to both test that they are compliant and to prime them to follow future suggestions whilst in hypnosis.
Hypnotising your street hypnosis volunteers
Firstly, only hypnotise volunteers who actually volunteer. Never hypnotise anyone that does not agree to it. To attempt this is unethical, it can make people feel very uncomfortable, and it could get you in a lot of trouble (either physically or legally).
So, when you have a willing volunteer, you can then hypnotise them. How do you do this? Well, as it is a quick street hypnosis demonstration, a 20-minute progressive relaxation induction is likely out of the question. Most street hypnotists use rapid inductions and instant hypnosis techniques in order to create a state of hypnosis fast. These inductions are also chosen due to the dramatic and entertaining nature of them. Watching a rapid induction is entertaining in and of itself, and as you are there to entertain, it’s the obvious choice.
What to do with your hypnotised street hypnosis volunteers
When you have your volunteer(s) hypnotised, it’s then time to do something with them. What do you do though? Well, that’s entirely up to you. There are so many different routines, skits and sketches that you can apply in a street hypnosis situation. There are also many different types of hypnotic phenomena that you can utilise. Catalepsy/sticking routines are common in street hypnosis demonstrations (such as sticking someone to the floor, or sticking a hand to the bar so they can’t pick up a drink). With volunteers who respond well, you might have them forget their name, or believe that they are a secret agent on the hunt for clues. You could suggest that they cannot control the volume of their voice, or that their pants are full of itching powder… Honestly, the possibilities are limitless. What you do depends on the volunteer, the location, the time you have available, and your own personal preferences. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, whatever you do, treat your volunteers with respect. Have fun with them, do not make fun of them! Making your volunteers feel bad or degraded is the quickest way to lose rapport, to get a poor reputation and to make people angry. Street hypnosis is a really fun pastime and one that, when done right, makes all involved feel good. So, be respectful of your volunteers and make sure that everyone has a good time!
Awakening your street hypnosis volunteers
Finally, when it’s time to wrap up your street hypnosis demonstration, make sure you awaken your volunteers fully and actively remove all hypnotic suggestions. This ensures that they will go away from your street hypnosis experience feeling fully ‘back to normal’ and that they will not go off acting as though they are still hypnotised, potentially getting themselves (and you) in trouble. Even if you think your suggestions are unlikely to continue, or that they have not been misconstrued, it is still a good plan to add in a suggestion at the end to the effect of, ‘all suggestions you have received up until this point are now completely removed and no longer have an effect – nod your head that you understand’. Always think in terms of safety, and making sure people feel good upon awakening.
Sometimes people may awaken from hypnosis feeling fuzzy-headed or a bit headachy. This is sometimes known as a ‘hypnotic hangover’ and can happen (usually) when someone is awoken from hypnosis too quickly, or if they’ve been going in and out of hypnosis repeatedly for a while. If this occurs and someone mentions that they don’t quite feel right, I would personally re-hypnotise them, give them some ‘clearing’ suggestions, and then bring them back to full alertness a lot more gradually (so instead of a 15 second wake up duration, maybe a 45-60 second one), in order to help them re-acclimatise to being awake and alert.
The tip of the iceberg – learn more about street hypnosis
Now you have an idea of how street hypnosis works, it’s time to really learn how to get out there and do it. There are so many street hypnosis resources out there, and it’s definitely worth learning what to do in more detail as you find your feet as a street hypnotist. As mentioned above, if you’re not already familiar with them, learn about rapid inductions and suggestibility tests. Learn how to confidently present your hypnosis skills and how to confidently approach volunteers. Learn what to do with people in hypnosis, how to deliver those suggestions effectively, and how to remove them after you’re finished. To get you off to a good start, check out my stage and street hypnosis FAQs, and if you have any questions after that, feel free to contact me directly, I’m always happy to help!