When You Let Someone Observe You

Back in the early 1980’s I often was observed.

A soon-to-be new education graduate of Bowling Green State University, in my last semester I spent 90 days in the classroom, assessing my mentor-teachers’ methods, teaching style, management of the classroom and creativity. Soon the tables would turn.

Since I was assigned to several teachers because of the broad focus of my training, I would be the one my speech/drama teacher would observe; additionally,  the focus of my English teacher’s observation would turn to my managing his class and presenting literature and writing projects. Those scenarios would then lead to my efforts in front of  the BGSU education trainer/advisor, to assess my overall teaching abilities.

I hated being observed.

At the time I was uneasy with constructive feedback, hearing only the negative. This made me doubt myself. But one thing I appreciated was having the chance to know when the observation was going to happen. This led me to pour many hours into my preparation.

I spent countless hours reviewing the content of my lessons, practicing how I handled lead-in to activities and even timing the lesson, for I wanted enough material to keep students occupied and engaged.

Endless preparation is what makes presentations and trainings powerful.

Talents in presentation did not come to me naturally. They came from much effort – much thinking and planning. Whether in the classroom or on the stage, ultimately, I knew someone was going to be watching. And eventhough I didn’t like it, I learned how to prepare for it.

When I did lots of theatre from my mid-20’s until my late 40’s, I did not like the early weeks of off-book rehearsals. These are the times the actor must prove they know their lines, and although I often did know mine, I delivered them much less effectively than I ever would on opening night or when our show was running.

When I was less than practiced I did not enjoy being observed, but it still happened. This led me to practice at home, often. Or to arrive early at the rehearsal space to “walk through” my lines, getting the flow, trying out my focal points and delivering the lines with familiarity instead of mechanically.

Today I love that people watch me, for I want them to be inspired.

Now, when I let someone observe me, it’s almost never the “rough cut” format. It’s after many hours of preparation, practice and on-my-feet delivery. Just like when I was learning how to operate in the classroom or on the stage, learning how to operate in a workshop or for a presentation means letting those present “get something” out of my presentation. It’s not about me getting through it.

When you let someone observe you, are you anxious? Of course, you are to some degree, for you want them to ultimately report they like or learned from what you are doing. But how do you accomplish that result?

For best results, when you let someone observe you, let them see your strengths. And the only way they can do that is if you personally take the time to think through, walk through and get through your own rehearsals.

Now when you let someone observe you, you shift from anxiety to excitement, hoping they respond the way you have visualized. And when it’s time for your audience to share, you eagerly listen for tips on adjustments or flow.

When you let someone observe  you, you are saying it’s important to learn what the observer gets out of your work.

You’re saying your work is for them, not for your own selfish interest. Get in the practice of letting people observe you. I would love to.




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