Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Three Questions for Self-Coaching & Improvement as a GM, Player, or Just In Life

We've talked a bit about improving our skillsets or ourselves as GMs and players. The fun thing about topics like this is they are universally applicable. The process used to actively review oneself and try to improve oneself in one area will work with little to no tweaking in another. Today I want to touch on this a bit more with three questions you can ask yourself to help you in finding a path to your goal.

Question 1: Can You Explain Your Problem/Challenge?
With some tweaking this can apply to attaining goals, but most goals are about overcoming some challenge or problem anyhow. So what is the problem or challenge you're facing? For me it is simple to find the one I struggle with the most: I get stagefright while GMing.

The thing is, "I get stagefright while GMing" doesn't explain the problem/challenge. So the key to this question after you find the problem/challenge is to unpack it. What do I mean here? For me, it's like this:

I get anxious/nervous while describing scenes or roleplaying NPCs feeling like I'm being foolish, grandstanding, or losing my players with unnecessary or unwanted details. This leads to me dropping more evocative prose and instead give more simplified summarized prose. Instead of "The Countess's shoulders slump as she lets out a long sigh before looking back to the Paladin and saying 'Yes, I suppose I could help.'" I freeze and strangle out a "She looks dejected but agrees to help." Or just "she agrees to help."

The same happens when describing new areas.

Even this can be unpacked further if you want. Ask yourself more questions about this - but avoid open ended ones. "What makes you feel anxious/nervous?" would be a good one for me here, but let's move on.

Question 2: What Does This Problem/Challenge Being Solved Look Like To You?
If you achieve your goal, solve the problem, or overcome the challenge what does that look like. In other words, what do you want to happen with this?

For me with the above problem, it looks like me being able to embrace the story telling aspect of GMing. I don't sum up with key NPCs and big moments, but instead lean in and really sell the world. My closest visual goal would be GMing like Matthew Mercer. Not with the professional voice acting, but his way of setting scenes and describing things to convey mood, tone, and sensory information in a way that paints the world. He does the same with his NPCs taking moments to express not just what they are saying, but what they are doing - and most importantly - how they are doing what they're doing.

Question 3: What Is One Thing You Could Do To Get Closer To Your Goal?
What is one thing you could do? What is one step you could take? How do you get started on overcoming this problem/challenge?

For me, one step I could take is to pre-write my scene descriptions while I am doing my prep, especially for big places I know are going to come up. Then use my prep time to practice delivering the descriptions in the way I want. This does two things: one, I have it written down so worst case I can just read the written description to my players. Two, I'm practicing and rehearsing what I want to say which will make it easier to keep in mind at the table when I need to deliver the description to the table with everyone looking at me.

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