You are wearing a character costume in an immersive environment. You’re staged in one place and there is a queue of guest waiting to meet you.
Your job is to connect and have a fantastic interaction with every guest.
The most fundamental way to connect with another person is to share eye contact with them. Accepting eye contact means an interaction has started and each person is interested in continuing with it.
So, first thing you do, make authentic eye contact with the people waiting.
You may feel it’s best to shift your gaze lightly across the whole body of people, especially if you are doing an entrance monologue. In doing that eye sweep, though, all those specific individuals get lumped together into a generalized group of faces. That sweeping gaze tells them that you are treating them all as a group – not as individuals. It actually creates distance.
You’re sending the wrong message for what we want to accomplish.
To send the right message – take the time to be specific. Send the same eye contact cue that they would recognize in any other interaction. Stop and really look in their eyes. Don’t sweep the crowd, but really land and hold your look in people’s eyes. Hold it for a few seconds. Shift your gaze after you see their expression change.
Their change means you got their attention.
At the same time, use your body language to show interest, curiosity, approval and excitement to see them. No need to mime it. Use the cues everyone can recognize.
Here are only a few of the cues humans use to communicate attention, interest, pleasure, excitement or curiosity. Something changes – Eyes widen and brighten. Eyebrows lift. Head tilts. Face and body move closer. Chest turns towards them. Take a deep breath. A foot steps towards them. Movements slow down to be less threatening. A double take shows desire for a second, closer look. Chest lifts up. Hair or clothes get adjusted. Body leans back to get room to take it all in. Let a breath out slowly. Posture gets better.
As you send cues, when you adjust your energy you modify the message. Going slower or faster, being smooth or jerky, making movements huge or tiny will send more subtle messages.
Taken all together, eye contact and physical modifiers tell them you are interested in making a deeper connection with them – as individuals.
Doing it this way, eye contact sends the message attention is being focused on them. They will watch you make adjustments based on what you notice in them. That sends the message that a give and take has started and you want it to continue.
Now you’re in the sweet spot.
Another thing – its important stay open to each moment. Change is wonderful. It is fantastic to let the give and take change your behavior and the cues you send. Allowing someone to change you sends a beautiful message – They have been seen and have had an influence on you. They see they have value to you. It shows you are involved with them, in the moment, adapting, processing this connection – the same way the guest is.
Guests now identify with you. A living, thinking being – just like them.
Congratulations! You made an authentic connection.
Next up: How Connections Are Made – Watch Their Moves