How to Give a Tarot Reading in 10 Minutes

One of the most challenging aspects of giving a Tarot reading to someone is doing it in a specific time frame – especially if that time frame is short, like ten minutes.

I was recently hired to read Tarot at a Halloween party, which is something I don’t do that often as most of my readings are done online. Since there were around 15 people wanting readings, I had to make these readings short and sweet and keep to my ten minute time limit.

If you’re interested in becoming a professional Tarot reader, being able to do “quickie readings” is a required skill, but it’s also something that many readers (including myself) struggle with.

So I’m here to break it down for you! I’m going to tell you:

  • My ONE favorite tip for keeping readings short and sweet
  • THREE things that can derail a “quickie” reading and turn it into a long one (and what to do about it)

My #1 Tip for keeping Tarot readings short & sweet

Have a general 3 card Tarot spread that you use with everyone. If you’re doing a Tarot party, using the same spread over and over again will help you get into a groove and you won’t waste any time trying to choose the right spread.

Here’s the one I use…

The let go card represents what might be standing in your client’s way, what’s blocking her or what she needs to release.

What you need to know is simply what your client needs to focus on right now – sometimes this card indicates a mindset or way of operating in the world that will be helpful for that person. For example, The Empress could be saying “take a relaxed, laid back approach to life right now and focus on nurturing yourself and your dreams.”

The upcoming opportunity card can represent an action your client needs to take or what will help her most right now.

You can be flexible and slightly alter the positions to suit whoever you’re reading for. I find that most people getting a quickie Tarot reading just want a general reading or they want a general reading about a specific topic (love life, career, health, money, etc).

If their questions are more specific, you can adjust the spread as needed, but I find this spread works wonderfully for all sorts of questions.

Tip: Practice using this spread beforehand and keeping it to just ten minutes! Just do some pretend readings for imaginary clients – it will boost your confidence and help you flex your Tarot reading muscles.


3 Things that can derail a “quickie” Tarot reading:

Whenever you’re trying to keep a reading short and sweet, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter obstacles at every turn – little things that will threaten to turn your quick reading into a long, drawn out affair. In order to avoid them, you need to be prepared!

1. The chitty-chatty client

Every now and then you’ll get a client who’ll want to unload their life story prior to the reading or ask a million questions, or both! As the Tarot reader, it’s your job to act as a referee in these situations and not let this person run roughshod over your time and energy.

I once had a client who, after asking her “is there anything you’d like me to focus on during your reading?” took a deep breath and then launched into a convoluted story about her ex, kids and money woes which revealed very little except that she was overwhelmed, stressed out and confused.

In this situation, I had 3 choices:

Option A) I could have let her ramble indefinitely, wasting tons of time (not a good option!)

Option B) I could interrupt her and say “it sounds like you’re going through a difficult and confusing time and would like some clarity and guidance,” and then focus the reading on the question “what does she need to focus on right now to bring peace and clarity?”

This is what I call a compassionate response – it takes the client’s feelings into account and let’s her avoid doing the heavy lifting of coming up with her own question for the cards.

The compassionate response takes a bit of skill on the readers part because you have to quickly assess how that client is feeling and form a question around that.

This way of dealing with an overly chatty client is kind of like saying “okay, I get the picture, now leave the rest to me.”

Option C) I could interrupt her and say “what is ONE question you have for the cards today?”

This is what I call a clarity question – it forces the client to quiet her mental chatter and drill down on what is truly important to her right now.

*Tip: if you’re short on time, this is actually a great question to open the reading with.

Either response B or C would be helpful here, depending on the client. Some clients might just use the clarity question to keep chatting, in which case you can move into compassionate response mode.

So I guess what I’m really saying here is don’t let your client ramble on and on before a ten minute Tarot reading. I usually allow ONE MINUTE MAX for preamble chit chat before I draw the cards.


2. BIG questions that can't be addressed in 10 min

I find that most questions or issues can at least be explored in a ten minute Tarot reading, even if you don't get super in-depth or come up with a solution/answer.

However, there are some questions that demand a longer period of time and there's just no way you'll be able to satisfy your client with a quick ten minute reading.

These include questions that are actually multiple questions in disguise or what I call questions within questions.

Here's an example: "should I accept the new job offer or stay in my current job? And if I should stay in my old job, should I ask for a raise or do anything else differently?"

For a complex, multi-layered question, you can simply take ONE aspect of their question and focus on that. In the above example, I would take the first part of the question "should I accept the new job offer or stay in my current job?" and just focus on that and let my client know we don't have time to cover all her questions.

Questions that carry a big emotional weight to them are also good to avoid when you're giving a ten minute Tarot reading.

For example, questions like "why did my marriage fall apart?", "will my aunt beat cancer?" or "should I cut my sister out of my life?" aren't the kinds of topics you want to be diving into in a mini reading.

If your client asks an emotionally heavy question, you can sometimes transform it into a "light" question. For example, why did my marriage fall apart? can be turned into what was I meant to learn from my last relationship? Or even what can I do to move forward successfully?


3. Your own tendency to ramble on and on...

This is the one I struggle with the most! Sometimes when I'm reading Tarot there's a part of me that's watching myself (like in an out of body experience kind of way) and thinking oh for fucks sake Kate, get to the point! because it's hard for me to say something just once - I like to repeat myself and say the same thing but a bit differently.

Less is more. Be concise. This is especially important if you've only got 10 min to give a reading.

Another thing that's sometimes tricky is wrapping up the reading. It's especially difficult if you feel like there's still more you want to say or if you sense your client feels unsatisfied. But wrap up you must!

There's a couple good ways to wrap up a reading. I always like to quickly recap the key points of the reading, then I say "thank you for having me read your cards for you" as I gather up the cards and re-shuffle. If there's extra time (which there usually isn't in a 10 min reading) I might ask if they have any questions about their cards.

Get comfy wrapping things up. Practice doing pretend readings on imaginary clients and run through your wrap up procedure until it feels like second nature.


Make these 10 minutes really count!

Having only ten minutes to read someone's cards really forces you to focus on what's really important. When you're giving a "quickie" Tarot reading, ask yourself how can I make the most out of these ten minutes?

Don't waste time rambling about the past or blabbering endlessly about the future - save that crap for the 20 min readings! I find that focusing on the NOW and what your client can DO to make life more magical is what makes for a good ten minute reading.

A Recommendation...

If you're interested in doing Tarot reading at parties and events, a must-read book is Have Tarot Will Party by Jenna Matlin (this is my affiliate link). She explains everything you need to know about party readings and really lays it out in a practical way.

Even though I've done party readings before, I never felt 100% at ease doing them. In fact, I've always felt a vague sense of terror while reading in a party atmosphere. But after reading Jenna's book I felt confident and excited about doing party readings. Shortly after reading her book I got hired to read at a party and for the first time I actually felt calm, relaxed and organized while doing readings. Yay!


I want to know...

What are the things that YOU struggle with when giving quick, 10-min Tarot readings? Let me know in the comments...


6 thoughts on “How to Give a Tarot Reading in 10 Minutes”

  1. Parties are Tarot boot camp, aren’t they? Managing expectations and stack ‘o business cards are my favorite. It’s a light, party ‘taste’ of a reading. If things start to derail…”I’m here if you ever want an in-depth look at this.” By and large most people are cool with it. Another interesting challenge to the quickie reading is the overly imbibed guest who is in no mental place for insight. Or complete sentences.

    In any case, best holiday wishes to you all. Hugs!

  2. This article has cleared up a lot of questions I had running around in my head. Thank you. However most of the readings I am doing on FTR as I live alone and do not have a big circle of friends. However I will be on vacation until 2nd January, and will take the time to ‘practice’ your above advice. Thank you. Now I must try and print this out. Freda
    P.S. I am already on your mailing list and get your weekly readings cheers.

  3. Hey Kate!

    When a reading must be done within a specific time frame, I would let the client know beforehand that I am limited on time. For example, “By the way, letting you know that because this is a public event and that there are other people waiting to have a reading, I hope you don’t mind to ask ONLY ‘simple’ questions and keep in mind about the time constraints! I am kind of required to finish your reading within 10 minutes, so I hope you can keep this in mind. If you have more detailed things to ask or want to tell me more about your story, this has to be saved for a booking for a private reading… or at least a reading where I have more time for! I hope you don’t mind!!”

    OR… I would make a small “notice board” beforehand that says what kind of questions are best, and that there is a time constraint so “Please avoid getting detailed about your story because the readings here must be done within 10 minutes. I hope you don’t mind!!” and “Here are examples of questions you can ask, and here are other examples of what might not work for a 10-minute reading.”

    Thank you for sharing your spread — I want to try it out soon!

    Cheers and kindest regards,

      1. Hey Kate!!

        Thank you for the reply! Happy that you seem to like my tips! ^^ People come to others wanting a “shoulder to lean on” for their sufferings, and there is nothing wrong with that! In the case of a tarot reader, they would “need” the reader to lean on “more than usual,” and there is nothing wrong with that either. I just think that, “In my shoes, if I were sufffering and confused, HOW would I *really* want to be seen and replied to? Not what my Mind THINKS is so-called ‘appropriate’ but how my HEART thinks, if I were really, really, REALLY them!!!” I call this “friendliness” and “being friendly.” ^^ It is important to be clear that you are not doing it because of them or anything “negative” from them, but because of the situation and that you are kind of *required* to finish everything within 10 minutes. I might also say that “Because this is a reading that must be finished within 10 minutes, I also have pressure and stress myself when a question is not ‘light’ or ‘simple’!! T_T If you need anything else, we kind of have to save it for a better time. Again, I really, really hope you don’t mind!!!!”


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