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The effect is generally worked as follows. Members of the audience write messages on small slips of paper, or billets. The messages can be questions for the deceased, or simply statements that the performer could not know. The billets are then put into individual sealed envelopes, which are collected and given to the performer. The performer then takes one envelope at a time and accurately describes the message inside. After announcing the contents of each envelope, the performer opens it, as if to confirm his reading.