Who is the star of the video show?

My most recent fear project of working with video is definitely a tough one to tackle. As long as I can remember, I've hated being on show, having my photo taken, being the centre of attention. I've always been intensely shy and consider myself 90% introvert. I can socialise for short bursts of time but really enjoy my own space too. For example, I’ve always avoided having parties for birthdays, graduations, and even my 21st. I always preffered lowkey dinners where I made it known that I was not going to be making a speech.

As with my work, I’d much rather be behind the scenes and simply get the job done.

Starting my video journey

When I realised that I wanted to grow my business and connect better with my audience and my clients, I knew I would have to face my fear of being in front of people, both on stage and on camera. I knew I would have to get to grips with working with video. But it hasn’t been easy.

The first few times I gave it a go, I was quite pleased with myself that I had managed to get through it. I sent the videos to trusted friends, asking for constructive feedback and was horrified to hear that I unintentionally came across as too serious and looking like I was about to cry. I did shed a tear after hearing that, but I was also so grateful for the response – after all, we can only get better with feedback!

My big mistake

When I started my public speaking journey a few years ago I made the mistake of videoing that very first session. At the time I was fairly confident that I had done okay. However, when I reviewed the footage the next day, I burst into tears and didn't undertake any further speaking engagements for nine months. I was traumatised by what I saw on screen. Isn't it interesting how self-critical we can get in these situations? I was so focussed on how badly I thought I came across that I didn't even notice the important content of the session. I wished I still had that video now to review and learn from.

Learning from my mistakes

So that’s me – I’ve started this journey, but I still have a long way to go. I generally give myself two years to fully get comfortable with a project and feeling confident about it and right now I’d say I’m about 15% along the journey. I’ve already made a lot of mistakes, and I’m sure I’ll make plenty more along the way. So what can you learn from the mistakes I’ve made so far?

  1. Talk to a human being.
    I hate the idea of having cameras, lights and lenses in my face and would much prefer to talk to another human being. One of my values is to do everything authentically which just doesn't feel natural if I'm communicating directly with equipment. Instead of talking straight to camera, ask a friend or colleague to face you with a camera positioned directly behind them. They can ask you a few questions which you can speak to and create a story around. Once you edit out the questions, you’ll create a complete and seamless video tutorial. I find this technique so much more comfortable because I'm not worrying about trying to remember what I have to say. It comes across more natural, and helps me communicate with my audience as if I'm having a conversation or chat with a close friend.

  2. Stick to three key messages.
    Instead of trying to follow a script and feeling pressure because of it, just have three key messages that you need to get across. That way, as long as you get the messages across, you won’t have to worry about forgetting lines or feeling awkward. I've also had it suggested that using a teleprompter is a great way to take the pressure off, though I haven’t tried that yet – my only concern would be sounding like a robot by simply reading what’s on screen!

  3. Focus on the content.
    I learned the hard way that focusing on the visual aspects is not the point – your informative video should be about the content and the presentation is just the way you most effectively get that content across. As with anything, practise, practise, practise and over time you will get the desired results. I’m always impressed by people who gladly share their bloopers and stuff-ups online because it shows that they’re not focused on their image. I have done that with stills but never to the point of showing running images – something to work on still!

My overall business goal is to travel both nationally and internationally sharing my journey, mistakes, and learnings from my personal fear projects in order to help others overcome their own fears. If I am to do that, I need to get comfortable with all forms of media (TV, print, radio, video) to promote my services.

I will conquer this fear and thrive and I would love for you to join me on the journey. Do you have any horror stories or great successes with video that you’d like to share?