I've always been fascinated with tricks — mainly tricks that really catch an audience off guard. I remember learning one years ago that I thought was pretty good, although not absolutely foolproof. I used it as an opening when making speeches. (I used large, individual pieces of cardboard with the instructions on them.

Here's the trick:

You ask your audience or any number of people who are participating to think of a number between 2 and 9. I usually ask them to write down their response so not to be confused.

After they have selected that number between two and nine, I ask them to multiply that number by nine, which will give them a two-digit number. 

Next, add those two digits together giving them a single digit number.

Take that number and subtract five from it.

Here's where it gets fun. Take that number and find the corresponding letter of the alphabet (A=one, B=two, C=three, etc.)

Acting quickly, tell them now that they have a letter that matches their number, ask them to think of a country that starts with that letter.

It's important to keep up the pace of the banter when you get to this point, but make sure they've had enough time to think.

Then, tell them to take the last letter of that country's name and think of an animal that STARTS with that letter...

Now, once they've had a couple of seconds to think, it's time for the grand finale.

You confidently remind the audience that there are NO KANGAROOS in DENMARK! If they've done their math correctly and reacted quickly in choosing Denmark and Kangaroo, the trick will be a success, and you'll be considered a genius!

Here's another that you can try, but the results are not foolproof. It works better in small groups of people (three or four) instead of one on one.

You start by explaining to your audience that you're going to give them a series of simple addition and problems to solve. Tell them to say their answers out loud.

You begin by asking what you get when you add one and eight. Pause for them to say the answer, which is always nine. Then ask them to do the same with two plus seven (pause), three plus six (pause), four plus five (pause), five plus four (pause), six plus three (pause), seven plus two (pause), eight plus one (pause).

The object is to get them to repeat aloud the number "nine" as many times as possible.

Then, quickly ask them to name out loud a vegetable. Most folks will answer carrot. I don't know the thinking behind this parlor trick; it just works, some of the time. Try it for yourself. (Let the audience see you secretly write a word, which happens to be carrot, to help build suspense.) Good luck with this one.

In high school this one was making the rounds to see if we could read the following correctly:

PARIS                     ONCEBIRD

IN THE                    IN AIN THE

THE SPRING          A LIFETIMETHE HAND

Each article is repeated. Did you read the repeated words or did you skip over them? In Psychology Today magazine, we're told that we often don't notice these words because it makes more sense to read "Paris in the Spring" and not "Paris in the the Spring." Still, you saw the repeated words but didn't notice them.

Try writing "Paris in the the Spring," and the others, and showing it to your family or friends for their quick reaction. You'll be surprised. (You might enclose each sentence in a triangle — with the point up — when you show this one.)

And finally, along the same lines, count the Fs in the following sentence. Don't cheat by looking at the answer in the next paragraph!

FINISHED FILES ARE THE

RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC

STUDY COMBINED WITH THE

EXPERIENCE OF YEARS.

So how many did you see? The first time I read the sentence I saw three F's. Turns out there are six. Just living proof that we see what we want or need to see and not necessarily what is really there. Not many folks see all six, by the way.

Try these, keep an open mind and have some fun.

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