This is our third episode on making videos. We recorded it, because we know that you're still putting off sitting down in front of the camera and film. Aren't we right?
In this episode, we're talking to three guests who got over the resistance and have been making videos regularly now. They started making videos for different reasons, coming from different backgrounds, with different skills and tried different approaches, yet, looking back, the lessons they've learned and the stages they had to go through are nearly the same.
Learn from their stories how they got themselves to record their first videos, got over the initial fear and resistance, managed to turn this into a habit, and how they improved their video making and communication skills fast with regular feedback and daily repetition. As part of this episode, you'll also get a bonus from us.
You can sign up for the bonus material that goes with today's episode right here. You can be the first to access this new course, in which we dissect excellent presenters and communicators and pull out the specific skills you can apply in your own videos.
With practical examples like these, your own communication skills will improve much faster.
Hello and welcome to the Active Growth podcast, episode 33. In today's episode, we are continuing on from something we started two episodes ago. In episode 31, Hanna and I talked about why you, as an entrepreneur, should record yourself on video. You should start creating video content and there are many reasons for this.
Chiefly, this is an amazing way to improve your communication skills, specifically to improve your ability to explain things clearly and this carries over into so many areas that are useful for you as an entrepreneur because this kind of communication skill that you develop from doing video is the kind of thing that helps you pitch your idea to potential investors. It helps you create an explainer video or marketing video or write better copy to sell your product. It helps you explain what you need, what the point of your work is, what kind of product you need, what kind of work you need to get done to people you work with, to your team members, to your employees, to outsource contractors, whoever you work with and so on. It's really communication skills like this, the ability to do this is something that just levels up your ability to be an effective entrepreneur in many different ways.
Of course, it's also kind of scary to do. It's something that's quite intimidating. Most people set up a camera, get in front of it and it's like, "This is very unpleasant, I would rather not do this." You feel exposed and it's difficult to do. In today's episode, we're giving you some content that hopefully will help you get over that hump and also will help you get the most out of the practice if you do start with recording videos of yourself. To do this, I've talked to several people who I have worked with who have been encouraged by me in some way or another to do this, to start recording videos to improve their communication skills and I talk to them about their experiences, about the resistance they experience, how they overcame it and how they benefited from doing all this.
You'll hear from three different people that I talk to. I talk to Stephanie Kelly who is a former Thrive Themes team member on the marketing team and did video work. If you followed the Thrive Themes blog, you've seen some of her work. I also talk to Paul McCarthy who is my business partner and right hand man and general kind of shadowy elusive figure in the background of almost everything I do. He's the co-founder of Thrive Themes and he's also been doing video work for quite a while and we talk to Arron Parkinson who is the CEO of a company called LevelUp Support which is a company that Paul and I are also involved in to some degree and Arron is also on this journey of using video recording to improve his communication skills. These are the people you will hear from in this episode and we'll get right into it but first let me just give you two notes here.
You can to go ActiveGrowth.com/33 to get the show notes and links and so on for this episode. That includes a special bonus that we've put together for this episode. We are creating a series of content that ties with something Paul says at a later point in this podcast episode which is that you can learn how to make better videos by watching other people who are really good at presenting themselves, watching other people who are really good at strong clear communication and we're putting there some bonus content for you where we give you examples of specific videos where someone does a particularly good job of presentation and communication and we give you a breakdown of what to look out for and what are the things that this person does that you can try out yourself to up your own communication game. To get this bonus as well as all the other stuff in the show notes and to leave us a comment or a voice message, you can find all that at ActiveGrowth.com/33.
Hello, I'm Shane Melaugh and let's get started on listening in on the conversation I had with Stephanie. Stephanie Kelly is a former Thrive Themes team member and if you've followed Thrive Themes blog or YouTube channel then you've seen videos that she made for us. First of all, hello, Steph, and thank for coming on the podcast.
Hi, Shane. Thanks for having me on.
At some point you came to this apprenticeship and you were kind of sat down in front of the camera and told you should do videos and before that, I know that you did some work with video before but were you ever in front of the camera or were you generally just behind the camera?
I did broadcasting at university so that was just one unit and most of the time I was behind the camera but occasionally I would get thrown in front of the camera and I was always plagued by the same physiological response where my heart would start pounding and I wouldn't really be able to get words out so I never really conquered successfully being in front of camera.
Yeah and I think that's something that a lot of people can relate to, right? It's not that you just don't feel like it. It's actually, like you say, a physiological response and it gets quoted all the time. I don't know how valid this is but this idea that, I don't know what percentage of people fear public speaking more than they fear death and it's a real fear that people have to deal with. By the way, I have to admit that this is one of the reasons that I also want to talk to other people about this because I never had that to a great degree, or at least it seems to me that of course I was also nervous in the beginning and things like that but it seems to me that when people tell me about their experiences early on with public speaking or being in front of the camera, I think I had only a very mild response. I didn't have a very hard time getting over that so, yeah, for you it was real torture in that sense.
First of all, you basically never enjoyed it. You never got over that. Did you want to get good in front of a camera at any point?
It wasn't so much of a fear of being in front of camera. I did enjoy it and I would like getting in front of camera but it would just be this thing that my body did whenever there was a camera pointed at me. It was really, really strange. I wouldn't be afraid beforehand. Ito's just the second that I was in front of that camera, I would start shaking and my heart would start beating. Yeah, I did enjoy it but I just didn't know how to kind of be comfortable in front of the camera.
Right. It's an interesting mean trick that your body and mind play on you because if you start shaking and stuff and you get all nervous and your concern is am I going to look like a fool? Of course the more nervous you are, the more your heart's pounding and all this, the more likely it is that you are actually going to make a fool of yourself instead of just doing your best, essentially.
Okay. I didn't know this, by the way. I simply wanted you to start making videos because I thought this would be a good learning experience and the apprenticeship because I thought you did a good job in your application video. Yeah, you were basically told to get in front of the camera and start recording. What was your experience of that like?
At the very start, it was quite similar. When I did my first video with you, Shane, I was still very intimidated by you because I'd only known you for a few weeks and to me, you were this internet famous guy that I'd seen on all the Thrive videos so still very kind of nervous by your presence and also being in front of camera so I definitely had that physiological response again. Yeah. It was a very hard experience because it was also trying to do a good video but fighting against that kind of fight or flight feeling that you get when you're in front of camera.
Yeah. I would love to, at this point, say I was such a keenly aware coach that I did something smart to help you get over that but actually I didn't do anything of the sort. I did give Steph some coaching but the form this coaching took was that basically instead of only being seated in front of a camera, Steph seated in front of a camera in the same room with the camera man and with also me standing there and sometimes interrupting her rudely while she was recording to give her feedback on what to do differently.
Yeah, it was great.
Yeah, I'm sure you loved it. The thing is, I know that this can be nerve wracking but it is also something that I've just seen ... It's this rapid feedback loop that we talked about on the delivery practice episode. It's like in the moment, you do the thing. You get immediate feedback about this is one thing I want you to do differently and to redo it and we did that basically ... I remember the first recording session we did, we did a couple of hours worth or something of just going, kind of churning through these short cycle improvements. At the time, did you notice this made a positive difference or was that just kind of a weird form of torture for you?
A little bit of both, I would say. It was good. The length of the sessions were quite good and the amount that we did them. I don't think there's much you can do about that immediate bodily response but it's quite hard to maintain that for a long period of time so by us just sitting across from each other with the cameras in my face and you giving me coaching for an hour plus, your body calms down naturally after a while by doing it a lot, so expose to those things that kind of cause the fight or flight a lot. It makes it less impactful so eventually you just get used to it, right? It's not as nerve wracking anymore.
My main struggle at the start was that feeling but the feedback was also really great. At the very start I didn't know what to say, how to structure anything in the video. I kind of just rambled and from me, when I first sat down to do my first and then me at the end of that session, I was already about 100 times better than I was at the start just from kind of all the tips and tricks that you gave ma long the way. Then it was just kind of mainly beating that fight or flight response out of me and then practicing all of the feedback that you'd given me. It was pretty much repetition and feedback, like you said, was really helpful.
Yeah. That's also something, this is very deliberately something that we do in the context of actually recording a real video. I think that's really important and that's something you can do even if you don't have an opportunity to be coached by anyone. Let me put it this way. It's important that you don't do a quote-unquote practice run. To get started with this kind of thing, sit down and with the intention of recording a full video on something. By full video, it can be a two-minute video, right? Give yourself that real scenario of my goal is to create a video that is good enough to publish even if you know in the back of your mind what I'm really going to do is I'm going to look at it afterwards and I'm going to self coach basically, find a couple of things I can do better and I'm going to do it again. Even if in the back of your mind you know this is not a video for publishing, give yourself the task to make it for publishing.
The reason I say this is there's two things. First, the way we did this coaching with you, Steph, it wasn't, okay, here is something instructions on how to make a video, how to structure it. Let's do some little exercises. It was just like, "No, start making a video," and you get feedback as you go along because practicing the real thing is always much more effective than trying to do some theory and pull out some little exercise or whatever. If you do that, in my exp, the only thing that happens is you can do all this theory, all this not real practice and then the moment you do the real thing, you're a beginner again. You know what I mean?
Yeah, 100% on that point. We all, during the apprenticeship, realized that we wanted to get better at video so we all did a 30-day video challenge. Every day we'd just do a video pretty much on the iPhone or something like that just to get better at presenting on video. Did not help at all. The second I sat down in front of camera again, in the real shoots for the Thrive Themes, I was completely still 100% nervous and didn't know what to say. It was a very different context presenting to camera for a Thrive Themed video versus doing a little 30-day video challenge on my iPhone. I, yeah, 100% agree with that point.
That's interesting. What was the thinking? I'd like to deconstruct that because for me, a 30-day make a video every day challenge was like a key point to getting better but one should mention that I published a video every day on the internet and it was kind of a video ... That's also something I think I've talked about before. It wasn't like a daily vlog kind of thing. There's nothing wrong with vlogs but I think it's a very different scenario of just like, "Hello, internet. This is what I'm doing. I'm having this hamburger," or something like that. It's a very different scenario between that and here's a complicated thing that I'm trying to explain to you or here's a controversial point I'm trying to make or something like that.
What was the thinking when you went in? What kind of videos did you actually end up doing in this 30-day challenge?
Yeah. Most of it was just talking about my day which was very, very different to trying to explain a new concept to someone, especially with a computer in front of you when you're trying to actually show the concept as well and kind of logically structure your arguments, which you absolutely do not have to do when you're just talking about your day and also just the setting. Having lights and a camera pointed at you rather than just you sitting alone in your room with an iPhone, very different.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I know that long time listeners are probably sick of me making exercise analogies but I just really like exercise analogies and this to me is one of those. The way I think of this is you have to do the hard thing to get stronger. If you go to the gym and try to pick up really heavy weight and you can't do it or it's too hard, you go, "You know what, I'm going to practice every day. I'm going to practice doing this movement every day but I'm not going to use any weights and I'm not going to do it in a way that makes me sweat or anything. I'm just going to go through the motions," and then after a few weeks you go back to the gym. You try to pick up the heavy weight again, you realize that you haven't gotten any stronger because you didn't do the real thing. That's, to me, the principle of the difference here between kind of doing the casual video and doing the quote-unquote real video.
In the process of how you are making videos for Thrive Themes, can you tell us more about what you think worked for you to get better at it and maybe also things that you think just didn't work or that could've been done better?
You explain this incredibly well in one of your previous episodes about communication and bento box thinking. That pretty much changed the entire way that I did videos and really, really helped with the presentation of videos. Just knowing what you wanted to cover and in what order that you want to cover those things and having them contained into a nice bento box of thinking was really, really helpful for presenting because then you knew you just have to kind of follow that general structure. We never had what we were going to say scripted but in your mind, you know what comes next. You know where that's leading. You don't go off into all these tangents, which I did quite a lot at the start. That was really, really helpful for me, also just doing it more often and doing the actual scary side of videos, so with the lights and the camera and a bunch of people looking at you and trying to explain complex topics.
It got much better very, very quickly, including my body's response to it. Just the more you're exposed to it, the easier it is and the less of a big deal you feel like it is and you're able to relax a little bit, stop worrying about your hands shaking and actually focus on what you're trying to deliver and how you're trying to deliver it. The more comfortable you get, the more time, the more thought power you can dedicate to actually presenting the topic well and making sure that you explain it well. Yeah, repetition really, really helps.
You mentioned about not having a script, which is all something I quickly want to talk about because this is something also very deliberately I almost never use scripts. I've never read off teleprompter. I generally just have some notes essentially in my head of what I want to talk about and that's how I encourage people to do videos as well. Here, again, there's a very specific reason for this which is that reading off of a script, whether you kind of memorize a script or read off of it, read it off a teleprompter, is a totally different skill from ad hoc talking. It's like especially in the sense of if you want to get better at communicating, if you want to improve your presentation and communication skills, then holding onto scripts, writing scripts and reading off scripts or memorizing scripts completely defeats the purpose.
In fact, I think it's extra counterproductive in the beginning when you're so afraid of and you kind of overreact to saying the wrong thing or not quite phrasing something correctly and I want to ... If you're listening right now, pay attention how imperfect all of my sentences are. I probably don't say a single perfectly grammatically structured sentence and the whole podcast but I don't stop and do a retake every time because people don't talk like that. People don't talk like a perfectly written script and so a beginner will always be much too fearful of imperfection in the way they say things and holding on to a script makes that even worse because then you have a specific script in your mind and your veer off by one word and you're like, "Oh my god, no. I have to redo the whole thing." I think doing it without script is very important.
Yes. On that note, that was one of the big things for me at the start is whenever I would say a word incorrectly. I would stop and start again and I remember specifically driving you guys crazy about that. You'd be like, "It was fine. You almost had it. Why did you stop?" I think that a lot of that ties into imposter syndrome, so at the very start I was this new person to Thrive presenting these videos and I felt like I had to be all uppity and perfect and flight attendant, like Hannah was saying, and perfectly word everything but as you get more comfortable, you're okay with just presenting yourself as a normal person not phrasing words 100% correctly and missing out certain words and not having to be absolutely perfect because, yeah, normal speech is not perfect.
Yeah and I also think that this is a bit of a disease of our education, that we all have this trauma of education where we deliver a thing and it comes back with all these little red markers so nevermind the whole thing. It's just here's all the stuff that is imperfect. Feel bad about it now. It's like, okay, if you're in school, I'm really sorry. If you're no longer in school, then you're in the real world. The real world does not work like this and you really got to relax about that kind of thing.
Yeah, one more thing that did help is seeing the finished videos and seeing them frequently and soon after I had presented them so we had an editor on our team who would edit the videos and they'd be out within a few days, especially during the apprenticeship because we were all together. That was really, really helpful because you see the finished product and you see where you could've changed things or explained things better and it's that immediate feedback where you can watch the video and see the direct results of the way that you presented that video and then you know what to improve on next time.
In this case we published these on the blog. Did it also help you to see that? We tend to get a lot of comments on our content. Did it help you to see that basically no one was going, "Oh, you sounded so stupid when you said this sentence or something." Nobody says anything like that and people say, "Oh, this is a really great video. I learned something new," or whatever, right?
Yes, exactly. That also helped with the imposter syndrome as well. You expect everyone, like you said from school, to be like, "Oh, you said this word wrong. You did this wrong," but it's just a flow of comments of people saying, "Oh, thanks, that was really, really helpful. I learned how to set up my webinar funnel now," so people don't really focus on all of the bad bits whereas when you watch the video, you've just got a list of all these things you did wrong, basically, but you learn that it doesn't matter, all those little hiccups don't matter.
Yeah, yeah. I have this, as well. There's also a curse of knowledge problem here. I get way too bothered about things like that lighting or the audio quality in a video. I hate it when the lighting isn't good, basically, or when I'm filming during daylight and there's maybe clouds passing and the lighting changes. I hate that. I'm like, "Oh, the video is ruined. It's just ruined." Of course, anyone in your audience who isn't a professional photographer or videographer just doesn't even notice, right? It's just a nonissue but you kind of blow it up in your mind.
Yep. Yeah, exactly.
Now, let me switch over to the conversation I had with Arron and Paul. As a quick reminder, Paul is the co-founder of Thrive Themes and Arron is the CEO of LevelUp Support and with them, I asked them about specifically resistance that they felt in the beginning, the resistance to getting over this I don't want to get in front of the camera. We talked specifically about that and about what you can do to overcome that and what they did to overcome that.
With this specific skill of creating videos, there is quite a high level of resistance to getting started because you're basically putting yourself out there. Everybody's worried about how they look, about talking sense, whether they're going to go on camera and talk a bunch of nonsense, whether people are going to point fingers at them and laugh at them and whatever. All these kind of lower fears and emotions crop up and that can just kind of stop us from getting started but as you were saying, if you really want to improve your communication skills and you want to make videos, the key is just to choose anything that you're interested in, even just a very small topic, and just start by making a two-minute video.
It will be awkward, by the way. When you watch that two-minute video back, you're going to look at that and you're going to have a very, let's say, it's going to be a bit of suffering for you because nobody likes looking at themselves on camera for the first time. You're like, "Wow, do I really sound like that? Do I really look like that? Why is my face funny?" All these weird thoughts crop up and that takes a while to go away, by the way. That takes probably 10 videos before you start getting used to seeing yourself.
Yeah, what was your experience? Arron, did you have this as well? What was your experience like with camera shyness or with just resistance to starting with this?
I did have a lot of resistance, especially for the last video that I made, which was a sales video for the business. I had huge resistance to starting that because I knew that it would be publicly visible on the website. Getting in front of the camera, it was really difficult. Probably for me, though, the most difficult thing, after I'd got over the initial resistance of getting in front of the camera, the most difficult thing for me was watching it back and editing it every time so each version that I made, just watching it back is so difficult. Each little thing that I see where I think I've done something wrong or the way I come across seemed stupid, every little minute detail stands out massively when you're watching it back.
For me, it wasn't as much as getting in front and recording the video. It was actually watching it back and editing it that I found to be the most difficult thing.
I was actually there when Arron produced the sales video he's talking about where he was squirming while watching the video back. I was recording it and I saw first hand the level of stress and anxiety that he was under. It was unbelievable really. I was looking at this video as a bystander and I was like, "That's not too bad. It's a good first attempt." He was looking at that video like it was the worst thing that's ever been recorded in the history of mankind.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Paul was there while I recorded that and the frustration and things like that, trying to get it right, it was huge.
Yeah. I think this is one of the things that happens when you do video and one of the things that makes it difficult is that this is a human thing, I guess, is that we are always overly critical of ourselves, right? I think everyone's probably stood in front of the bathroom mirror and inspected every single spot and blemish on their face and thought, "Oh my god. I'm such a mess," but you've never inspected anyone else's face that closely, right? You don't go around looking at other people like, "Oh, you've got a blemish on your skin." We only do that for ourselves and the same with whatever, if we agonize about what clothes to wear or just we agonize about our appearance, both our physical appearance but also how we are perceived by other people. We tend to forget that to other people we're just not that important.
It's the same with video, this really comes out because when you're seeing yourself on video, like you were seeing, you see every little mistake. You see every imperfection. It can be hard to bear and you lack that perspective, that outsider perspective where someone else is just watching a video going, "This seems fine."
I have to say this is something that, in my experience, it goes away somewhat but never completely. I still have that. I still have the every video I make, I'm always like, "I wish I had done better." I can always point to things that I think aren't that great, point to things I could've done better and so on. Generally, my audience doesn't feel that way. I do think that's also one of the things that, to some degree, you can overcome this and you can get used to it but to some degree, that's always going to be there. It's always going to be that you are your most difficult customer, so to speak.
Yeah, this is a psychological bias that's been studied quite extensively. I forget what it's called but I do remember a particular study where they looked at a group of students and gave some students a ridiculous tee-shirt to wear, something that they thought everybody else in the class would pick up on and then after the class, it was actually found out that basically hardly anyone noticed this stupid tee-shirt that they were wearing. It just goes to show that every little blemish, every little flaw, every little thing you think people will pick up on, you're not really that important.
Yeah, it's pretty funny to think that they were probably sitting there wearing the tee-shirt going, "Oh my god. Everybody's looking at me. Everybody's judging me," but nobody else actually even notices.
I remember what it was, it was a Barry Manilow tee-shirt so you can imagine an 18-year-old student sat there with a Barry Manilow tee-shirt feeling all awkward and in reality, nobody even noticed.
Great. All right. Apart from the things we already talked about and especially when you got started, let's basically go back to ... Okay, most people listening are probably haven't started yet and we're trying to talk them into starting with recording themselves on video or they're early on in the journey. If you go back to your earliest attempts, apart from the things we already talked about, what was the most difficult thing for you to do at, to get started?
Yeah. That's a really tricky question to answer. I think probably getting started is the hardest thing about getting started. I can't even put my finger on what specifically causes that resistance but as soon as you go through the motions of getting started, that resistance tends to dissipate, I find. It really is just a case of getting in front of the camera and recording something. Even if you're not really clear what topic you want to talk about, you don't have a clear outline, you just got to get in front of the camera and record something. Even if it's just a one-minute ramble about your day, something really unspecific, something that really isn't going to bring value to anybody, just a case of getting that air time and that's the first step really. You just have to convince yourself to just get started.
Yeah, I would agree with that, actually. Just getting in front of the camera, you can think of any number of excuses not to do it and then once you get in front of it and you do a few minutes, it doesn't feel as bad then to carry on so, like Paul said, if you can just talk about anything, just get in front of the camera, get started and then it's not as bad once you're a few minutes into it. Then if you're doing it every day, if you commit to a schedule of recording every day, then you just know then that at 10:00am, I'm going to be in front of that camera no matter what and that makes it a little bit easier to get past that initial resistance.
Yeah, what Arron's just spoken about there is something called implementation intentions. The first step would be to get in front of the camera, just talk anything. Then the next thing is if you decide that you want to ingrain this as a habit, you want to do this on a regular basis, be very specific about when you're going to do this recording and where you're going to do this recording and what you're going to record about. This act of being specific about when you're going to do these things, implementation intentions have been shown to really increase your chances of following through and actually doing it. I think in one particular study, they did this on gym participants and the control group went to the gym, let's say, 55% of the time, something like that. The group that used implementation intentions and were specific about when and where they went to the gym, it was something like 90% of something like that, a huge difference so be specific about what kind of schedule you're going to follow.
Yeah, I agree, this is really important and also the environment. We've talked about this before and how important your environment is to establishing good habits and for me, this is all something that goes into this. If you have a specific time of day where it's basically, well, this time's blocked out to make a video, I'm not going to do anything else, I already know that I'm going to do this. That makes it easier but also think about your setup. How many steps are involved before you can actually record?
Personally, I actually love recording videos but something that I don't love, and I've had this a lot because I travel a lot, I've had this a lot that I've been in a place where there are just many steps I have to take before I can actually record a video. It's like I'm in a tiny apartment. I have to move the table to the side. I have to move the couch to the side. I have to unpack and set up my lights. I have to get out the tripod, put the camera on the tripod. I have to do all these steps before I'm actually set up to record and this is a problem.
This is all something that prevents me from recording. Even though I don't have resistance to the act of recording a video itself, I don't like doing all this other stuff. I don't want to do all this work, right? For me, what's ideal and what I always strive for is to have a setup where there are as few steps as possible before I can hit record. The tripod's already standing there. The light's already standing there. Everything's basically ready. All I have to do is basically turn on the camera, get in position and hit play. This also makes a huge difference in terms of that resistance. If you have the environment set up to minimize the number of steps you need to take before you can get started and you've got a specific time schedule, that's going to make it so much easier to just get into the habit of doing this.
Yeah, this one is really powerful and I can really testify to this because when I started shooting videos, I used to go to a unique location every single time and it would usually be a location that's out in the wild somewhere, somewhere that's relatively beautiful. My thinking was that I'd have a nice background image so viewers can, I don't know, indulge themselves in looking at this great wildlife or whatever. The problem that came along with this is it was such a pain. Every time I wanted to record a video, I'd have to get on my motorbike or get on my bike, find somewhere quiet, set up my tripod, set up my microphone, my camera and I realized that this was a huge portion of resistance for me. It was stopping me recording as often as I wanted to. My setup now is basically the opposite. I get in front of the camera and I click record. That's it. The lights are all set up. The microphone is right next to my camera. Everything is just ready, basically. The resistance to recording is minimal now.
Yeah, on that note I also want to talk a bit about technicalities when it comes to production quality. Because what you just said, right, finding a nice background, finding a unique location for every video, maybe even trying to find some location, some background that's somehow related to what you're talking about, this is about production quality and if you're watching videos or if you're watching documentaries or whatever your inspirations are, you'll see that they put a lot of work, or some of them put a lot of work into this kind of production quality. In fact, high quality productions will sometimes travel halfway around the world just to get a specific shot to make a point. Production quality is a good thing and it's some that if you really get into making videos, at some point you have to think about.
In the beginning, my recommendation is not to worry about production quality. In the beginning, it's about just getting in front of the video and becoming a better presenter and becoming a better communicator. The next step in production quality is to simply intercut some stock footage or some B-roll. You can still do your recording just standing in front of a white background or a black background or whatever it is and you just do your recording and you can start making it a bit more interesting by you can sign up for a service like Videoblocks, for example, where you can get stock footage. You can display related clips that you didn't have to go and record yourself but you can still enrich the quality of your video by displaying these clips that are related to what you're talking about.
Another thing you can do is you can do text overlays and title overlays. These are all things that you can basically do afterwards or you can hire someone to do that for you to up the production quality of your videos without you having to bear the pain, basically, of having to travel around with your camera gear, having to try and find shots and so on. I would say that this kind of thing, even if you have the ambition to make high quality productions, I would say that this kind of thing, going outdoors, taking your camera gear with you to places, it's one of the last things I would put in the sequence of improving the quality of videos.
Yeah, that's really true and it can be a huge skill in and of itself, right? You can spend an inordinate amount of time learning about post production quality and how to make videos look good. For me, I've outsourced that completely. I'd rather have somebody take care of that to produce high quality videos and me just focus on the act of communicating an idea clearly. That's the skill I want to focus on so that's another avenue to take. If you're really interested in improving your communication rather than just the quality of the video, consider outsourcing the production of it.
Yeah, I was just going to say I agree with that.f me it was the communication aspect that really got me into it in the first place. My first videos when I was just recording things that I was interested in was just from my iPhone sat on top of my fridge. Production quality was really low but actually having to communicate your ideas and go through that process of structuring them so that you can get them across clearly is a really valuable thing to learn how to do well anyway.
One of the questions I asked everyone I had this conversation with was what are some things, what benefits did you see from doing it? Did this carry over into the rest of your life, as I have promised it should? Here is Stephanie's answer to that question and our discussion about that.
I have become much better at structuring my thoughts in general and that has been a direct result of having to explain a concept in a nice little box in video. I think before, my thinking was quite disjointed and whenever I was trying to explain something, I would just completely go off on tangents and not really explain concepts properly. The way that my brain works has changed a little bit to structure thoughts in a more constructive and ... I keep using bento box but in a way that kind of fits into a nice neat little thought package, basically. I've got a lot better at communicating and getting my point across.
That's really great to hear. To me, this is like the magic of doing this and I mentioned this in the bento box episode. In the beginning, this is something you do very deliberately and it is difficult but for me, this is a great thing. Like you say, the way your brain works changes because now this just happens and I notice this in every context when I'm explaining something. This just happens. In my head, I've got like, okay, there are two chapters with three sub points each, right? I'm going through them. I don't make an effort to do this, just like my brain has decided, okay, this is the way we think now. It's great. It's so great to have this kind of clarity, this clarity of thought.
Yeah. I notice it's helped a lot with emails and also sending messages to people in Slack. You learn to include all of the information that they would need and explain sub concepts if there's something in the email that they may not understand so that's a strange off benefit but, yeah, helps really good with work communication.
Yeah, totally and I think that's one of the things that I find kind of amazing, whenever you gain a skill in something, it changes the way you see the world to some extent, right? Things like lighting and framing of video, if you do cinematography or photography, it changes the way you see the world because you start seeing potential frames everywhere en you start seeing the light and so on in a way that non-photographer just doesn't. Basically, almost every skill I think does that. It changes the way perceive the world.
For me, communication skills are like that where when you start developing your communication skills and you become deliberate about them, you start seeing it everywhere. You start saying, like you say, in email, in Slack, in one on one conversations, everywhere you see people basically being handicapped by poor communication skills, right? Basically the opposite of everything you just said, people are sending a message by email or Slack. They're trying got get help or they're trying to inform people but you can see they're leaving out all these important bits. They're just not making themselves clear. It's not clear what they want or what they need or what anyone should do next and it's simply because they don't know how. It's simply because of poor communication.
Yeah, it's quite interesting seeing ... I've recently been doing some consulting work. It's incredible how communication skills really change your perception of a client and the way that you're able to work with them because I've had a few emails that have just been unusable for me as a freelancer for them. I've just gotten no information that I need and they require about three or four back and forth emails to kind of get all the information out of them that I need and it has quite an impact on their time, my time and, yeah, the whole project in general.
Yeah and all the while, they thought they gave you everything they need. They have an idea in their head, they sent you that first email, they thought, "What else could you possibly need, right?" They didn't realize that they basically didn't tell you anything.
Here's what Arron and Paul had to say about effects that they've seen from doing video work.
There's been so many things that have cropped up since I started recording videos. One of them is intonation. When I first started recording videos, I would have never ending sentences. I would talk about something and I would keep talking about that thing and then there wouldn't really be any gaps in what I was saying and I would just keep on talking and my ideas would run on one from the next and the listener never really understood what I was trying to say. I would basically speak like that in my videos. That was one of the first things ta I realized, just end your sentences like I'm doing right now and it really helps to communicate an idea. That was one of the first things where when I was speaking in everyday life, I realized I was doing this. I just kept on talking and then I started to end my sentences because I realized that that was a more effective way to communicate an idea.
Then the second I think I noticed pretty early on is that you know when you're conveying an idea to somebody and you're going into some really intricate little tangent that you think is the most interesting thing in the world. When you record a video and you listen to that back, you realize that you're just banging on about useless nonsense. That's what's actually happening. While you're thinking you're being really interesting, many times you're just talking nonsense on a complete tangent that the other person isn't really understanding why you're talking about that because you've gone off on some kind of random tangent, like I was saying. That's the second thing I realized. I would catch myself while I'm conveying an idea, I would catch myself going off on a tangent and I would reign myself back in again.
I think the third thing is using kind of devices or ways of explaining things to become more clear. This especially occurs when I'm talking to, let's say, the team, our team, in business that is. When I'm conveying an idea, I'm more likely now to think how could I make this idea clear with, let's say, examples or analogies or metaphors or some kind of device that would help me get the point across as clear as possible? Those are the three main things that I've noticed that have changed for me.
Yeah, on that note actually even though we have joked about this but in terms of devices for explaining things, your ability to come up with metaphors has definitely noticeably improved and I say this, it's kind of an inside joke between us because Paul used to have this thing where he would start something that is supposed to be a metaphor. You would start a sentence like, "Oh, I was as cold as ... " Then he couldn't think of a thing. This would be a simile actually but he couldn't think of a thing but he'd usually say, "I was as cold as something that's very cold." This was kind of a thing that just happened a lot. You could see the attempt of starting a metaphor but then not being able to think of something and this has lately just gotten so much really noticeably better. Now you make metaphors that land and they come off the top of your head. That's very noticeable.
I have to thank you sincerely for bringing that up for everybody to hear. Thank you for that.
I would say for me, the things that I've made videos on, when I'm speaking about those things afterwards to people, I can speak about them much more clearly. I would say that's one of the main noticeable differences. If you have to make a video on a subject, it very quickly drops out any holes in your understanding of that subject. Like Paul said, when you watch your back and you realize that the way that you're communicating these ideas are not very clear or not very useful and once you correct for that, whenever you're speaking about that to somebody new, you can speak about it much more clearly. I have the same thing with speeches that I've prepared for toast masters, for example. I get the same sort of thing, a much clearer idea of what I'm speaking about.
Yeah, that's a really interesting point. I think one of the effects here is that as we've also talked about in previous episodes, the idea isn't that you just make a video. The idea is that you make a video and especially at the beginning, you make a video, you watch it back and then you make a better version of the same video. You're not going to always keep doing that but this is one of the things, like your second go at explaining the same thing is going to be much better because you've learned your lessons from the first time around.
What you just said, Arron, is exactly right and I think that's something that I notice as well a lot when I'm talking to people, I often end up, because I've made so many videos about so many things and I also write a lot, I am often talking about something and it's not the first time I'm turning these thoughts into words. This is like the second or third time that I'm doing this. The result is that when I'm talking to you, the way I explain something is much cleaner and much more eloquent because I've already made my mistakes. I've already learned from them and so now you're getting this polished production of what I'm saying. That's definitely one of the benefits of doing video.
Yeah, id' say another one for me is that I've really started to notice the clarity of communication really stems from clarity of thought and you can't really have clear communication unless you've really thought about the topic, thought about what you're trying to say in close detail. This is something I never used to really do. I would quite commonly start a sentence or start an idea and then realize halfway through, you know what, I haven't actually considered this idea properly, at which point you start questioning yourself. You start poking holes in what you're trying to explain and it used to cause me to just really get flustered because I'd start this idea and I couldn't round it off. I couldn't finish it. Halfway through, I'd realize that I really hadn't thought this idea through.
I think doing these videos, for me, has really helped me to become a bit more of, let's say, a philosopher in examining the ideas that I have, the beliefs that I have, examining, let's say, the books that I read and other things that I'm trying to communicate, really looking at the ideas in closer detail so that my thought is far clearer.
To close this off, one more thing that I asked everyone because I think it can really help you to get started is I basically asked them, look, if you could time travel back to that moment where you're at the beginning, you're feeling all this resistance we talked about and so on, if you could give yourself some advice for when you started out, what would you tell yourself?
On one hand, I think probably I could've shortened the learning curve by maybe learning a bit more about what clear communication looks like, what it sounds like, perhaps maybe trying to consult with an expert in the domain or going to toast masters or something like that. I think the main point of leverage for me, if I was going to go back two years and speak to myself, I think I would say, "Do whatever you can to get over the resistance of recording videos and focus on getting your reps in rather than worrying about the end result." I think this is something that I still haven't quite fully got over. I still have resistance to videos and sometimes I should step in front of the camera and record but I end up not doing that because I have this resistance and then I just succumb to that resistance. The fact of the matter is you're only going to get good at doing videos once you've done a couple hundred videos, in all likelihood. That's how long it's going to take you to really get pretty good at it.
In fact yourself, Shane, you've done over 1,000, right? People always say how good you are. You've obviously got a good camera presence but at the start, it wasn't like that for you. It took you 1,000 videos to get there. Rather, it took you at least a couple of hundred to get to a reasonably good level.
For me, I think that's the key thing. Don't worry too much about perfectionism. Don't worry too much about the end result and focus more on the action. Focus more on your schedule. Focus more on getting your videos out there and then after a year or after 200 videos or however long it will take for you to get to a point where you're comfortable, then you can start maybe shifting that [inaudible 00:52:16] towards the end result. Maybe then you would focus a little bit more on making your best videos, on fine tuning, on doing your best work. In the early days, I think it's more important that you just get your reps in.
Yeah, I would agree with what Paul said there. Reps is really important and especially at the start, I think you need to get over that initial resistance. You need to do something to take the sting out of it and just getting up and doing it every day. I think, Shane, you mentioned about having a setup that is easy to set up so that you don't have to move furniture around and things like that to get started, having a fixed schedule where you know when you're going to be recording, just getting in front of the camera and starting. All these things, when you first start doing it, they will take the sting out of it. They will take a little bit of resistance away and at first, you won't really see how you're going to make improvements but if you stick at it, if you persist, if you keep watching it back, you will start to see areas that you can make improvements.
For quite a while, it might feel like you're in the dark but as long as you keep doing it, you will start to see areas for improvement and then once you start to notice these things, as long as you stay focused on addressing them, then you will start to make progress.
Yeah and the final thing I would say that I forgot to mention is that the golden rule here is to make sure you do one thing better each and every single video that you produce. Just focus on how you can make it 1% better, your video, than the last one that you did, in any part of it. Just try and improve and over time those small wins will stack up.
To be honest, I don't think there's anything that I could actually say. It's more just doing the work and putting in the practice. I don't think there would be any magical words that I could've said to myself back then to stop both the response in me and just the experience from doing it over and over again and learning.
Yeah. I totally agree with that. You just do the work. You just do it any way and get your reps in. Like I've mentioned before, I also kind of started my journey with this 30-day challenge where it's just like you're just going to make 30 videos somehow and you don't get to worry about, oh, I don't feel like making one right now or whatever. The details don't matter. You just do enough of it, you get that experience in.
Yeah. I guess I would tell myself you're going to be terrible but it's all good because eventually you'll get better.
My advice that I would give my former self is somewhat related to what you just said, Arron, and I should clarify here that I think I made very, very slow progress for a long time. I think that one of the problems I had was that, like you were saying, it's like in the beginning it can be difficult to even figure out how do I improve? Am I improving? What's going on, right? This is the problem where when I started making videos, I didn't have the expertise that I have now. Now when I watch someone's video, I think I can be a pretty good coach to someone. I can pinpoint things for them where it's like, "Okay, here's a thing you can improve. Here are a couple of things that you could do better." I see all this now. I have X-ray vision for videos. I didn't have that so I'd watch my own videos back but I didn't have a clear strong idea of how can I improve my next one.
I was floundering along for quite a long time and so what I would tell myself to do, I think that the biggest thing I could do for myself to shorten that learning curve, is to find a way to get feedback from someone else. Basically just think about in my family, in my circle of friends and acquaintances, who might be most qualified to give me some real constructive feedback here. This is actually the tricky part because most people, again, don't have the expertise to be able to give you good feedback so you show them a video and they can maybe tell you, "Oh, this is fine," or, "Well, it's a bit boring," but they can't really tell you what should you improve.
If you have someone, if you know someone who has maybe done this kind of work before or who has some kind of training, maybe someone who's a teacher or professor, some kind of experience in how to present stuff, just think of is there anyone you could ask who could give you some more specific feedback than just, yes, this is good or, no, this is not so good and get feedback from them. That way, I could've improved faster and I could've gotten to the point of, let's say, self sufficiency where I can actually effectively judge my own stuff and find ways to improve it. I could've gotten there sooner.
Yeah, that's absolutely true and I think I'm very lucky because I basically had your knowledge that you'd been building up over the past, I'm not sure how many years you've been doing this to give me that feedback.
Yeah and it's very noticeable. I have coached a few people on how to make videos and all of them have improved much, much faster than I did. This is really, I can also tell you from the other side, basically, I can see how much of a difference it makes when someone gets some external feedback instead of just trying to figure it all out on their own. Yeah, basically everyone I've worked with has gotten ... They've basically skipped past the first two years or so of my process within the span of a few videos by getting specific feedback.
Something I've found that really helps, if you don't have a coach and you're not really sure what to do to improve your videos is to look at somebody who clearly is a really great communicator and try and deconstruct what they're doing so well. That can really give you some ideas on how your presentation is differing from a really excellent communicator.
That wraps up our interviews on why you should create videos and how to do it. I hope that if you're not already doing this, that this gives you the motivation to get started and you can basically shortcut your way past some of the pain points because now you know how several other people have done just that. As I mentioned earlier on, it really makes a huge difference to have some guidance. It can really be a shortcut and it will be something where you can make faster progress because of all the things you already know now, because of the tips you've picked up in this episode. You'll be able to make faster progress with this than I did, for sure.
I think a really important point that I want to quickly reiterate is what we talked about with Stephanie about the type of video content you make because I think this is the most important thing you have to do to make sure you're not just wasting your time is that you make the kind of video where you try to explain something, you make a publish ready video and you don't make just like a daily vlog, here's what I had for breakfast type video simply because making a more difficult video of trying to explain a concept or something on video is for sure more uncomfortable but that's the kind of thing, that discomfort is where you grow. I think that's really important to keep in mind because, as with anything, you can do anything in a way that makes your grow your skills but makes you get better and stronger over time. You can do anything in a way at you're just [doddling 01:00:21] away and you're not actually growing your skills.
For sure, that's something to keep in mind because since this is quite an unpleasant thing for most people to do, especially initially, make sure you do it right so you actually get all those benefits that you heard everyone talk about at the end.
To further help you along with this journey, check out the bonus content that we have for you at ActiveGrowth.com/33. We are building almost like a mini course where we're giving you examples of people who are really good at presenting, people who are really good at this kind of communication skill that we've been talking about and we give you a breakdown so you can see what are the aspects to pay attention and what can I learn, what can I copy. That is something you can sign up for for free at ActiveGrowth.com/33.
I'd also love to hear back from you so if you have any other questions about communication skills and video marketing and anything else about entrepreneurship or if you have any kind of feedback, then you can go to ActiveGrowth.com/33 and tap on a button to leave a voice message. We also respond to questions that are sent in like this every once in a while. You can also leave a written comment there or of course we also appreciate it if you like this podcast, if you leave a review on Apple Podcasts or [Stitcher 01:01:47] or [Castbox 01:01:48] or wherever you listen to this or if you just tell a friend. Say, "Hey, has a good podcast. Listen to this." We really appreciate that support.
All right. That is all. Thank you very much for listening and I look forward to hearing back from you.
Have you tried recording yourself on camera before but you messed it up so much that you never ended up publishing it? Did you manage to get over the resistance and have been making videos? Or even the idea of doing it freaks you out? We'd love to hear your experience with recording yourself on camera for publishing.
Let us know in the comments below!
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Alexandra is a traveling marketer. When she is not editing podcast episodes or writing blog posts, she's out there exploring a new city. She's the creator of the Morning Mindset daily mindfulness journal.
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