I’ve been student teaching. Here’s something I wrote in my journal. You’ll see pretty quickly how it relates to RPGs and the art of being a Game Master…
I’ve been focusing on this skill of addressing people individual during talks and lessons. A famous public speaker I follow has said on many occasions, “you’re never speaking to a crowd. You’re speaking to a group of individuals.” The idea is that speaking to a group is too much to ask of one person. It can overwhelm them. Instead, you pick out one person at a time. Look them in the eyes and address them. You’ll notice them sit-up, focus their eyes, and nod along with you.
Then you move to the next person.
It establishes a connection but also keep them engaged. Humans are drawn to eyes. They show where we’re spending our attention.
I did this in my school presentation at seminar, and it really changed the way I engaged with those listening as well as the way I delivered the content. I really felt that I way putting “more into” the presentation by speaking to just one person. Making that connection. Using inflection and dynamics to let that person know what’s important for them to remember. But then it also functions as instant feedback for me, the speaker.
With this technique, I am able to tell fairly quickly when an idea, comment, question, or joke lands. Their eyes give it away. And that’s so useful when giving a presentation. When someone looks puzzled, reiterate. Try it again with new wording. Give an example. Move on when they confirm, verbally or non-verbally, that you’ve satisfied the question. If you haven’t done that and the situation allows for it, just ask. “What’re you thinking? Is there a question on your mind?” Something to draw them out. They almost certainly are not the only one with a question. It may even be something obvious that you’ve overlooked. That instant feedback can save you from making an embarrassing mistake.
With the masks too, this strategy becomes more potent. Or at least, easier to practice. You as a speaker could always see the audiences’ eyes. But now, they’re enhanced. The mouths and noses that wrinkle are removed from the picture. The eyes tell all.
Read them carefully.
They tell you more than you know, but only to be interpreted on an intuitive level.
If you have the opportunity to play in person soon, notice the eyes. Connect with a player this way. You’ll get more from them and more out of the experience.