I saw a painful surveillance video the other day showing a thief attempting an escape from police by climbing a ten-foot ladder. He plummeted to the ground on the first attempt. The sirens grew louder and he tried again, and fell. In fact, he fell five more times to the cement floor of the store he had attempted to rob before he made his escape. It was almost comical, and the news anchors joked about his tenacity. In his case, fear of getting caught and facing jail time fueled him, and he succeeded in eluding the police. While I certainly don’t condone thievery, I thought, “Lucky thief,” and noted that his fear worked to save him.
That same night, I listened to a preacher talk about busy-ness in our lives. He pointed out that this franticness that so often can overtake our lives is fueled by fear. Especially in the current economy, the fear of not being able to pay the bills or the mortgage can be suffocating, and so folks will work themselves nearly to death, sometimes at the loss of their marriage, health and happiness. Fear can destroy lives and opportunities.
If I were to ask you to think back, I am sure you can remember distinct moments when fear was empowering and you accomplished something great and other times when it held you back, or hurt you. Fear is always there. It is a part of life.
Fear is primal. Humans like every mammal have the instinctive reaction of flight or fight when faced with a possibly dangerous situation. This inherent mechanism is essential for survival. It is our ability to analyze the actual level of danger in a given circumstance that will enable us, as humans, to use fear to our advantage!
Public speaking and now, television cameras can cause intense fear. For years, surveys on common fears show that public speaking is second only to the fear of dying!
If your knees shake before you are about to walk on stage and the butterflies in your stomach feel more like angry wasps, then you may be feeling the primal response to fear, and it’s time to make that reaction work to your advantage.
Make friends with Fear. It will always be there, but it need not control you. It can be a reassuring presence to energize you, and give you that edge that you need in order to be your best when you are delivering your message, or your story.
There is nothing that Fear and Faith cannot enable you to do.
Have you ever noticed how some of the best motivational speakers seem to have trouble completing a thought?
It’s not that they don’t know what to say, but I’m referring to the way some will leave a sentence hanging in anticipation of the audience completing it: For example, a speaker might say, “ You’ve got to be hungry like a _______” (He pauses and the audience finishes his thought by chiming in, “wolf!”).
Audience participation in a live presentation not only keeps the listeners engaged and feeds the energy level in the room. It has also been proven to greatly improve retention.
Another easy way to encourage audience participation is to ask questions, and ask for a show of hands. Questions not only stimulate mental alertness, but the physical movement of the raising of hands boost’s the group’s energy. Internationally acclaimed speaker, Les Brown asks for a show of hands throughout his presentations, and the feeling in the audience is that you are actively engaging in conversation with Les.
How do you create that feeling of connection when a camera lens seems to distance your audience from you?
First, I invite you to realize that speaking to a camera, or appearing on TV can be a much more intimate experience for an audience, for two reasons:
1. They literally are looking at you more closely. Nothing like a close-up in HD to send you back to the makeup table! But seriously, TV is perceived to be a more natural conversational distance to the viewer than a speaker on a platform.
2. Empathy is easier when subtle expressions can be seen. If you are looking into the lens and speaking to your audience with sincerity they can feel as though you are speaking only to them. It can be powerful.
Connection, ok, but “audience participation”? There’s no way to accomplish that with TV or Video viewers, right?
As a host, guest expert, or star of your website video or DVD course you have a “call to action” or something that you want your audience to think about, or do. It may to pick up the phone and donate, to buy your book, or start investing in real estate. The action that you successfully move them to is audience participation! You want to influence them to change something in their life.
Your ability to influence others through your appearance on their TV or computer screen is directly related to three things:
1. Your energy level. Keep it high! This is so crucial. I cannot emphasis it enough. It is the most common problem I see as a media trainer.
2. Entertainment value. Find the humor. You certainly don’t need to do a stand up routine; in fact, jokes can be risky, but people love to laugh. Tip: If your subject is a serious one, search to find the lightness in your story somehow; it creates a comfort level so that your message can get through and affect your audience.
3. Give them what they want. Don’t forget, human nature is to always evaluate a message by asking, “What’s in it for me?” Let them know how you can make their life better, and let them know quickly! In a web video, for instance, you have less than 7 seconds to engage a visitor or they will click off, and be forever lost!
With the proper message, skilled delivery and appropriate marketing, your message can literally affect millions through a camera lens. You may not be able to see the show of hands, or hear the viewer’s voice right away, but you can change people’s lives through your story. You can move your audience to make a change for the better, and that is the best audience participation you can ask for!
Find the freedom that comes from giving you a break
Are you a perfectionist? If your automatic response is “no!” I invite you to take a closer look; there is a well-meaning perfectionist in every one of us!
Wanting to be the best, and see things executed to the highest level of quality is a good direction to set your business compass but, I see this quest for perfection keeping people from reaching their true potential nearly every day.
Sometimes the perfectionist inside of a very talented client will keep her from even getting in front of a camera, until she “can lose these ten pounds, then, I’ll do this!” Weeks, months or even years can go by and many opportunities to promote and grow her brand recognition are lost.
Other times the perfectionist side of a person can manifest a near obsession with the “perfect take”: “I have to eliminate that stutter, and the blinking, and hit that key point harder…” It may sound constructive self-criticism, but I have seen hours wasted and temperaments tested by this type of paralyzing thought. It does not make for a positive experience; Trust me on this, I’ve done it myself!
The antidote to perfectionism paralysis is a new perspective! Here’s when I discovered mine:
It was a few years ago; a conversation on stardom is taking place in my favorite acting class (I know, no surprise there!) My acting coach points out that the most famous movie stars capture our hearts because of their imperfections. We love to watch our heroes overcome obstacles despite their imperfections in their films, and that is why we cannot get enough of them. It’s their brokenness, and not their perfect-ness, that draws our empathy.
Consider Sandra Bullock, nominated now for an Academy Award for The Blind Side. For years she was known for her clumsy girl-next-door appeal in her films, and in her interviews, she openly jokes about herself and even snorts with laughter. Not perfect by the old charm school standards but this imperfect appeal has carried her latest movie to the box office success of $249,000,000 and still counting!
Even our leading men have a brokenness that is far from perfect… think of your favorite, is it Russell Crowe, or Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner or Robert Downey Jr? Chances are, you will see there is vulnerability there that hints through every performance and that is what we connect with. It’s not the perfect looks, and it’s not the perfect clothes, or body… it’s the human-ness.
How does this relate to you, if you just want to talk about your passion for your business, and not be a movie star, you ask? Because it is this empathy of the human sprit and the reassuring comfort of familiar imperfections, (especially, in those that lead us!) that bonds us. Understanding that concept makes it so much easier to allow for a few flaws in your program, or a stutter, or those extra pounds that only you see anyway! Perfection is overrated and exhausting to try to achieve… so tell your inner perfectionist to head to her trailer and get her stuff… she’s outta here! It’s time for you to enjoy not having her nagging on your shoulder!
Now get out there and enjoy being real, and feeling that connection with the people that you want to influence. Enjoy your freedom to be!
Keep the resistance to a minimum by incorporating these elements
The Olympic sled racers inspire me. How meticulously they must train to eliminate every bit of resistance in order to win, and victory often is determined in mere portions of a second!
To be a champion in our chosen field, we should be meticulous, too, with our words. Every time we have the opportunity to talk about our expertise, we are either creating a flow of energy around us that will streamline our path to our goals, or it will create resistance that we must then work to overcome.
Streamlined sounds much better, doesn’t it?
It is impossible to eliminate all the bumps in the track, but if you include these basic elements when you talk to the media, mingle at networking events or get interviewed those bumps can propel you forward or hardly slow you at all.
We have heard the phrase, “God doesn’t make junk,” but do we realize how divinely equipped we each are? Do we wake up in the morning and see a reflection of God’s best work in our mirror, or do we focus on the negative? Do we see only the things that we would like to improve in our lives instead of the gifts we innately have? So often, we see only those few pounds of weight that never seems to leave us or the friend that doesn’t call anymore or that big break that never seems to come. We can magnify these negative things until they become beliefs, and fear is nourished by negative beliefs.
I have caught myself being pulled into that way of thinking, but my higher consciousness, or, as I like to say “my smarter self,” knows nothing positive will come of it. That’s when I remind myself that we are all “divinely and wonderfully made.” Until I accept this as fact, I am starving the Spirit and standing in my own way.
In my profession, I help people overcome one of the biggest fears known to man: the fear of public speaking and its dear cousin: fear of speaking on camera. Fears are created and conquered in the mind first therefore; the biggest obstacle to overcoming the fear of speaking on camera or in public is the belief that we are not ready. It is my job, and my good pleasure, to show people that if they have the desire to share their message with an audience, then they are probably already divinely equipped to do just that.
When we stand in our own way, we stand in the way of what could be God’s plan for us. So, what does standing in our own way really look like in the mind? Here are few things I’ve learned along the way in overcoming my own obstacles and in working with others:
We have all heard the acronym, “F.E.A.R. as False Evidence Appearing Real.” So here’s the good news about conquering those fears we’ve been discussing: they are all false until you believe them!
Previously I mentioned my belief that if we have the desire to share a message about something, then there is already a natural ability given to us to connect to exactly the audience that needs to hear it. I absolutely believe in preparing your skills as a communicator, and that there is great value in researching your target audience… this way you are sure to be reaching those that are most ready for what you are offering. These are things that a professional media trainer or coach can assist with. While there is true value in learning the art of speaking, the foundational strength to any charismatic communicator is the passion for their subject and the authenticity with which they share that passion. Any training on the art of presenting is icing on the cake, but the batter is made of basic ingredients: passion and authenticity.
Here are a few tips to consider when preparing for an opportunity to speak that may help alleviate some fear and increase confidence:
When you allow your passion, and your purpose to be a gift to others, you have no room for the negative thoughts that create fear. One of my business coaches said, “When you enter a dark room, and flip a light switch, the light dispels the dark with out us even questioning how.” You are divinely equipped so, flip the switch and allow your true light to dispel your fears.
How to avoid a common mistake in storytelling
Are you a specialist in your field? Do you have a way of working, coaching, developing a product or creating art that is so unique that you can’t wait to talk about it? That’s fantastic! There are people eagerly awaiting your story, and hungry for what you have to offer. The trick is not to bore them before they get to the good stuff about you!
We all have experienced the situation that I am talking about; You simple ask, “ what is it you do?” to a new acquaintance and what seems like an eternity later, the flood of information is still rising and you are searching the room for a rescue.
Well-intentioned as this person may be, they suffer from what my husband has termed “lack of situational awareness”.
We certainly don’t want to think that we could ever be that person (heaven forbid!) but there is an awareness that we need to have when we develop our stories; I am speaking specifically of stories that we tell about ourselves, what we do, and how we help others. These stories are crucial to the success of entrepreneurs, authors, coaches… really anyone that wants to be successful and influence others.
The key is to keep your story succinct. Follow this easy template:
The most difficult of these steps for most enthusiastic professionals is the third one, “what did you do?” (This is where “succinct” gets forgotten) This step is the most difficult because a specialist loves what they do, and wants to proudly say “how” they do it. Problem is, the listener, at least initially, is more attracted to “what was the result?” Don’t forget, it is human nature to constantly use the filtering question, “what’s in it for me?” Drown your listener with your “process” and they won’t see the payoff quickly enough, and they zone out. Eyes glaze over and a polite exit from the conversation will most likely me next.
To prevent that disconnect, learn to be aware of when you go into “process.”
A woman named Liza runs an alcohol recovery program. She proudly tells: “ A 21 year old man was brought to me; he was living on the streets, hungry and very thin and truly didn’t know how he would survive the next night, I introduced him to our unique program and within months he learned that he could contribute greatly to society, and now owns a business, and a home and is living a life he could not imagine just two years ago!”
Curious about that program, huh? Notice, nothing is said about the process of what she does… the experience of the young man’s recovery is engaging, and we are left to ask the question, “ wow, what is this program?” If you get the listener to want to know more, then you have permission to go into what your process actually is.
Had Liza gone into detail right in the beginning, “ we placed in him a room in our facility where there was 24 hour watch, and provided him with nutritional testing, and a need-specific diet. We engaged him in group session and single therapy sessions on a daily basis until…. ( blah blah…uh huh), how many people would be ready to ask for more information? There would be no need, and the experience of the man’s story would have been diluted by excess of words.
It takes some practice to understand what “process” tallk sounds like… I had a coach that would call me on it! Every time I would start to describe the “How I do It” she would shout, “process!” (And I would hate her momentarily… but, it helped!)
Focus on the experience of what you do. Let them see how you can help them, their company, their loved one. Then, let them ask for more.
Watching others present and host can create a false need to be like them, and we may not even realize that we are creating that expectation for ourselves!
You have uniqueness and your own style and presence that cannot be duplicated, and so do the people that you are watching. Don’t misunderstand, admiration is fine and appreciation of talent is great. Watching great communicators can be a powerful bit of homework when you are training to be excellent in that area yourself!
The trick to freeing your charisma comes from the ability to blend what you appreciate in others with your own attributes that no one else processes. Sometimes it takes someone on the outside with a trained eye to help you do just that.
As a media trainer it is sometimes my biggest challenge and the most rewarding aspect of what I do.
Experience how it feels to free the flow of your natural Charisma and its power of attraction with our private sessions and workshops. http://www.charismaoncamera.com/Classes_Workshops.html
Need to know more? Contact me at Sandra@charismaoncamera.com, or 866 -672-3818. I’ll book your free phone consultation to determine if our training will benefit you!
I have been at odds with a crooked palm tree for a long time.
Every time I would enter my bedroom, my eyes would inevitably focus on this plant and I would sigh in irritation. For whatever reason this palm has grown sideways, twisted, and then just slightly upward. It defies the rule of a straight and majestic palm. It was not pretty to me. Since I can’t discard a living thing, I placed it in the master bedroom because it was less likely to be seen by guests. That decision prompted the lesson because I inadvertently positioned it in my eye line every day.
In truth, I saw it as a representation of how off-course parts of my life were. I had new business ventures and my learning curve resembled the path of an arcade pinball. Some days I would be right on track, then an unforeseen challenge would knock me to the side and I’d want to start all over. The tree mocked me. I scowled at it. I wished it straight. Then I’d wish it dead. I imagined how pretty that area of the room would be with a lovely “perfect” tree in its place. It taunted me daily.
Just this past weekend, we had several plants treated to their much-needed repotting and feeding; as the crooked palm was lifted back inside the house I was sitting with my business coach. I saw her eyes glance toward the offensive plant and I immediately quipped, “ I don’t know what to do with that, It’s so ugly. I don’t know why it has grown like that.”
Her simply stated response was filled with the type of wisdom that comes naturally to a great coach. With an appreciative evaluation of the twisted trunk, she said, “It’s not ugly. Think of it as a lovely symbol of how the path to success is not a straight one, but as long as you are still growing, success is still being achieved.”
I contemplated the tree with this new filter.
Certainly, this palm was persevering, despite the odds that caused its deformity in the past. The leaves were bright and fresh green could be seen as new shoots were sprouting. It was still reaching for the sky, undaunted. It was really something beautiful.
I love this tree now.
How many times do we sigh in disgust at our perceived inadequacies, or try to hide our flaws at the cost of the progressive experience of learning to accept ourselves, as we are, where we are. I’ll admit I’m guilty.
I work with very smart, successful, talented individuals to overcome inaccurate perceptions of their shortcomings every day (Almost nothing can help with this better than a camera lens). Often, the very thing that we think of as an obvious personal weakness is part of our uniqueness that is so attractive to others.
A nursing professional doing an informative video for others in her field need not worry that she doesn’t have the polish and cadence of an entertainment reporter; it’s her down-to earth approach to her information and her subtle, honest humor that will create a comfort level with her particular audience. She is perfectly equipped.
I always recommend media training to really share information efficiently, of course, but I also firmly believe that we are perfectly and divinely gifted with the individual characteristics that enable us to best communicate with our desired audience. Our perception may be the only thing standing in the way of our greatness. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help us appreciate our most beautiful assets.
Where are the beautiful crooked trees in your life?
The greatest story ever told is the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of the baby Jesus. It has been written in nearly every language spoken by man. It has been painted, acted and sculpted. It has been analyzed and romanticized. But it is the most recognized story on Earth. It is the reason for the Season!
That’s proof that the art of storytelling is powerful! It can be found every culture and in every land as a means of education, entertainment, and moral enlightenment. It is the most effective way of organizing information. I bet your family will have plenty of old stories told this holiday season!
Your information can benefit from a story. Maybe it’s the tale of your life or the transformation of your client, or a funny anecdote. It could be all of the above!
It’s best to start with your story. You may very well have need of different versions, depending on the audience before you, and the amount of time allotted to share your information. You may have a 30-minute version, but you will more likely be in need of a 2-minute version and it may be a bit of a challenge to edit your history so drastically and still maintain the integrity, entertainment value, and important emotive power. Some things to keep in mind:
Every effective story contains these 5 elements:
By having your story clarified, you will be able to establish your credibility for speaking on your topic and establish a level of empathy with your listeners.
With the actual sharing of your story, there must always be a feeling of spontaneity, even if you have told it a thousand times! Remain open to reaction from your listeners or audience. This will help them to feel a part of the tale.
Ultimately, you want your listeners to be caught up emotionally and transported to a different place then where they were before they met you. Motivational speaker Les Brown says, you want to “distract” your audience; meaning pull them away from the current “story” in their heads (whether it’s that they aren’t capable of achieving their goals or the review of their grocery list!)
What makes a good storyteller great (and why not aspire to be great!?) is they tell stories of the type or in the style that suits their personality the best, with an open, honest and effortless ease.
So now, What’s your story?