One of my favorite theatre directors, a brilliant woman named Anne Bogart, talks about what she does in a situation familiar to anyone who feels all the eyes on them, and they don’t know what to do next.
For her, this moment comes during rehearsal. She is standing at the back of the theatre or rehearsal room, giving the actors some space to work. Things are moving along, and then they grind to a halt. The actors are stuck, or they have tried what she asked them to do and it didn’t work, or something else has come up that is keeping the rehearsal from going forward. Every eye in the room turns to seek her out. What’s the answer to the problem?
What Anne Bogart does next is very simple. She steps forward; she starts to walk toward the stage. She doesn’t know the answer. She doesn’t have a solution to the problem. She simply walks, and knows that by the time she arrives at the front of the room, she will have a response.
I have tried this in rehearsal, in meetings, when I’m coaching. It always works. The built-in pause of the travel combined with the countdown-clock of imminent arrival creates a space where an answer can come.