Smart pacing – an easy alternative to boring your hypnotic subject into trance

When talking about hypnosis, most people get the wrong idea about what pacing is. The system in question consists of a pattern of pacing (matching) and then leading (sameness and then difference). As I mentioned in the first video, a pacing statement is commonly reduced to one which matches the obvious perceptions of the hypnotic subject, such as “you are aware of the sounds in the room” or something similar.

I’d suggest a broader definition may be more useful, as it would be better to be able to get things moving towards where you want them straight away, rather than all this tedious and unnecessary business about how things are right now.

I define pacing as “matching aspects of their model of the world.” Notice that I didn’t say anything about ‘statements’ and that I’m intent on focusing them only on certain aspects of the way they think the world works.

You see, you don’t need to ‘pace’ overly much when you’re making suggestions within their model of the world. You can work within their model of the world while asking questions which focus them on relevant and useful parts of it.

How do you know, then, what they suppose is true about the world, without making stupidly obvious statements or outright guesses?

Firstly, questions are better than statements, because they reduce the need for mind-reading, or for tediously stating things which are obvious.

More interestingly, we can ask questions which focus them on aspects of awareness that begin to lead towards where we want them to go.

A ‘formal’ example of a focus question would be “where in your body are you feeling most relaxed right now?” You can immediately understand how much more of an effect that would have than “you are feeling relaxation somewhere in your body”. The question sends them on a search for relaxation, while the statement can, at most, be a loose confirmation of a fact.

It’s self-evident that they’re feeling relaxation in some areas more than in others, even if they’re somewhat tense overall, so the question is partly a pace. It also will have the effect of focusing them on relaxation and causing more of it – a lead.

So the focus question (especially one which uses a comparison) is the most effective form of an indirect lead.

This form of indirect lead is a powerful substitute for the old pace – a smarter form of pacing.

If you want to know more about smart pacing, or to be led through the hypnotic process in detail, with plenty of examples and practical exercises, get my book Hypnotic Conversations: The Secret Structure Behind Everyday Hypnosis.

Or if you want to know even more first, then watch my next video – The best way to practice Hypnotic language without wanting to slam your head in a door.

Hypnosis in a nutshell – How to use Hypnotic Conversations for any purpose

Relax, I’m not going to bore you with the usual structure of hypnosis, where you hear about language patterns, pace and lead, matching and so on until you’re ready to throw your laptop out the window.

Instead I’m going to show you something useful. It’s time to look at the structure behind hypnosis.

This is the ‘big picture’ of hypnosis and in many ways it’s the whole picture. Master this and all the rest is just details.

Here we go…

In the previous video I talked about how important it is to understand that all hypnosis is a strictly purpose-driven activity.

Purpose sets the ‘rules’ and keeps us on course throughout the hypnotic process, so any successful hypnosis starts right there.

Now traditional hypnotists don’t need to think about purpose – a hypnotherapist will always be doing therapeutic change and a stage hypnotist will always seek to entertain.

So when we broaden out the applications of hypnosis into non-standard categories, it makes sense to consider purpose first.

You might want to entertain, create change, influence, inform, cause learning, build a creative mindset, or any of 1001 other hypnotic purposes.

Then you need to start an interaction with the hypnotic subject – the sort of interaction that is appropriate to the context, the person and the purpose.

I’m not going to get any more specific at this point, because the scope for hypnotic interaction is immensely broad.

For example, if the interaction is verbal, it could involve a conversation or a presentation. People can have a conversation about almost anything, embracing any mood or viewpoint.

All of these can become hypnotic, by following this structure in a specific way.

The next thing you need to do, within that interaction, is to make some suggestions. A suggestion is anything (verbal or non-verbal) which guides the subject in the direction which fulfils your hypnotic purpose. A lot of suggestions can lead to a lot of nudges in the right direction.

How do you know that you’re moving them in the right direction though?

You must pay attention to feedback. Classical hypnotists rely mainly on non-verbal feedback – shifts in body language that let them know what’s going on.

For our purposes, feedback can be verbal or non-verbal. For example, good salesmen notice ‘buying signals’ in their clients’ behaviour and also get spoken feedback which lets them know if they’re taking the sales interaction in the right direction.

Teachers should be attuned to feedback which tells them whether the students are ‘getting it’ or not.

This is true of every hypnotic interaction – there’s always feedback to help you course-correct towards achieving your hypnotic purpose.

You need to know when to stop though – a vital piece of the puzzle is knowing when you’ve actually achieved your purpose.

This seems like a no-brainer, but I think some people must truly have no brain. I’ve encountered salesmen who keep going after they’ve made the sale and teachers who keep harping on long after they’ve made their point. It spoils the experience for the person on the receiving end.

Those last three pieces: suggestion – feedback – are we there yet? comprise a thing called the hypnotic feedback loop.

Feedback allows you to adjust the suggestions until you’re doing something that works. Then you must keep doing that or something else until you achieve your hypnotic purpose.

You must keep going around and around this loop until you achieve your purpose.

Just keep going?


Yes. If you’re making suggestions, noticing feedback and checking whether you’re there yet, the only way to fail is if you stop trying.

There are various shades of success and failure – and I’ll go through those with you in detail in Hypnotic Conversations.

Now when you finally achieve your hypnotic purpose, you need to ‘re-orient’ the subject.

What does that mean exactly?

If you want to achieve something lasting, you must make it real for them.

  • In a sales version of re-orientation, you take them to make the purchase.
  • In a learning context, you ask them to tell or show you what they’ve learned.
  • In an influence situation, you create the means for them to follow through on their decision.

What do all of these examples have in common? In re-orientation, you build a bridge between the hypnotic interaction and the subject’s ‘real’ world.

That also involves returning them to an ordinary state of awareness in some way. How you do that can vary – and different methods have very different effects.

Of course, this is just an outline. Some practice at the specifics of each step will allow you to be hypnotic in just about any situation.

I walk you through the process in detail, with plenty of examples and practical exercises in my book Hypnotic Conversations: The Secret Structure Behind Everyday Hypnosis.

Or if you want to know even more first, then watch my next video – The Truth about Trances – how to create a complete hypnotic experience in just three acts.