As humans, we are always sending out information about the way we feel and what we are thinking. We are instinctively trained to receive these cues and react – based on that information and what you want to accomplish.
Simply giving those cues value and allowing them to affect you creates a genuine connection. Sending a response based on what you learned when making that connection starts a meaningful interaction. You do it all day, every day, from your first day in your body. It’s nature.
It’s also the way the top immersive performers make their magic.
In the immersive environments we work in, the guests are sending and receiving cues as they normally would anywhere else. They have no reason to do any differently. And they expect to get responses back. It’s the natural way of things.
This is where it gets complicated.
Performers rarely tune into these natural cues. Instead, their attention is internal, on themselves, not the guest. They focus is on being entertaining or choosing a bit to use or searching for what the character would do.
For the guest, years of instinct will tell them something is off. For them, it feels unsettling, unnatural. They want to, but they can’t get that feeling of being connected or appreciated.
The natural system isn’t working the way it is meant to work.
Now, imagine using your lifetime of experience tuning into these cues, then letting nature progress as it normally does. Imagine a character that is so natural that it is just like a living, thinking being.
Let go of all the ‘shoulds’ in your head and set yourself the goal to recognize their cues and then respond appropriately. The guest is put at ease because the natural system is working as it is supposed to. And it is especially fun, because a character from a story they love is being a real person with them.
Genuine connection… Check. Authentic interaction… Check. Win – win.
I’ll say it in acting language. Remember our earlier idea that the guest is your scene partner. So, now apply some terms from improv –
That person you are looking at is your partner. That means anything they do (or don’t do) is their offer to you. You don’t want to block anything. Instead, you want to accept their offer and apply it to the scene. Based on all that, you add your portion to build on the scene. It goes back and forth. Now something unique is developing.
The cues to watch for are not complicated, either. For instance –
- Does the guest face you with their body or do they stand at an angle to you?
- Do they look in your eyes or away?
- Are they smiling or are they neutral?
- Are they focused on you or are they scanning the area?
- If you catch their eyes, do they stay with you or do they look away?
- Do they repeat your posture or your gestures?
- Do they walk up to you quickly or slowly?
- How far from you do they stop?
- Do they move strongly or with caution?
- Are they standing still or are fidgety?
No words are exchanged. Still a ton of information has been expressed.
What is exciting for us is they have given you a natural opening to connect. You have a chance to touch them in a meaningful way.
Next – The Character’s Why – The Guide To Apply What You Observe.