GM Growth: Listen to What you Say

Image by: WCGAPS

For a good while now, I’ve been posting Actual Play sessions of my Freeport game to the Gamer’s Haven. The thing is, I had not listen to any of my own sessions, well, ever. I used the typical excuses, mainly citing that I would rather listen to someone else’s game. Well, I can tell you this: I finally took the bull by the horns and gave my own sessions a listen, and it is one of the most valuable things that I have done for myself as a GM. Here’s why:

1. It’s not as bad as you think it might be

People of often say that they hate the sound of their own voice. Firstly, get over it. You “subject” your players to your for voice for hours at a time when you GM a game. Surely you can stomach what you give your players, right? Secondly, a lot of the GMs I know pick nits and tear apart their sessions after the fact, thinking only about what they could have done better. Sure, you’ll have some of that as you listen to your own sessions, but you’ll probably also realize that things went a lot better than you thought they did. More than a few times while listening to session, I remembered a part I had ad-libbed, or thought I screwed up completely in the moment, and when hearing it played back, it all went just fine. We can fool ourselves a lot, but the proof of fun is there when you listen back.

2. You’ll remember what really happened

Don’t think that, unless you take copious notes, that you will remember the events of your sessions exactly the way they happened. More than once, I messed up NPC names or story continuity, and the funny thing is, I could have gone back and listened to these sessions multiple times over. Had I done this sooner, I would have run a more cohesive game. It’s something I want to make sure that I do more often in the future.

3. If you do want to pick nits, this will help

If you are really serious about improving your skills as a GM, listen to how you run the game. Examine every facet and fix what you think are your weaknesses. If you do public speaking or theater, it is always recommended that you really look at what you’re doing, and learn from it. If you want, record video of a session. Look at your body language, your facial expressions, all of it. You might not enjoy the process, but you will learn oodles from it. I take my GMing very seriously, often equating it to the job of teaching (as that’s what I do professionally), and I want to be the best GM I possibly can be. Rather than obsessing over what I think I remember doing wrong during the session, I can now go back and listen to the sessions and get a clear picture.

The moral of the story is this: if you want to become a better GM, one great way is to listen to how your actually run the game. Better still, record the video. I’ve not done video yet, but I’m not far off from taking that step. I want to be better at my craft of GMing, and looking at my goofy mug while running that game could help a lot. Like I said above, everyone else has to look at you and listen to you while you run the game, so my not look at and listen to yourself? You could learn a lot.

2 thoughts on “GM Growth: Listen to What you Say

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  1. Yep, seconded. I’ve been podcasting both my Pathfinder games and my Mutants & Masterminds games for a while and while I’m planning the next adventure or session I’ll listen to the last one. Definitely helps to keep things in perspective.

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