1) Cold reading:
Do you only have 13 steps and you looked in the Q&A sections? Sometimes people are set off track by thinking it's pure cold reading, but in fact it's some sort of effect where you have people write stuff (or not) and you awnser their questions without looking at the paper.
The best place to start cold reading is probably get a cheap book on any kind of divinatory system such as palmistry, my favorite divinatory system is probably the one called as Psychometry, my best reccomendation to learn it would be this Quick and Effective cold reading by Richard Webster availiable there: http://www.deceptionary.com/webster.html#pendulum
Now by learning this you will get a more in depth idea of how cold reading works, your next purchase would be Ian Rowlands full facts book of cold reading : http://www.ianrowland.com/ItemsToBuy/Co ... Main1.html
Much of cold reading is simply saying things that can involve a lot of things but making them look specific as you talk, there are other methods but I let you discover for yourself.
NLP stands for Not Likely Possible, this stuff is used for therapic work or people who want's to use it as a presentation for their effects, don't think you can make mentalism effects with NLP. Derren Brown use trickery too but he use NLP and crap for his presentations.
So NLP is BS for mentalism.
I didn't liked Geist, nothing compared to SOM, the effects are mathematical, and some effects doesn't applies for the style of performer that I am, I give it a 4/10...
A thing that I noticed, you seemed to go for methods which seems propless and clean, as you start off you should use methods which use pure trickery, make them show as the real stuff.
Keep it simple, my act is full of simple stuff and I use the magician force, yet it baffles everyone, IMO cold reading is cool if you are a psychic and you do readings, other than that... You migth look foolish on stage saying stuff that people doesn't link to.
IMO of course.