Every week asSmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with @RuthSherman Ruth prepares business leaders, politicians, celebrities, and entrepreneurs to leverage critical public speaking opportunities including keynotes, webcasts, road shows, awards presentations, and media appearances. She also has a specialty in video on-camera presence, what she defines as VideoCharisma™. Two clients have won Oscars and one, The Pulitzer Prize! For more information: www.ruthsherman.com
SmallBizLady: Why is it so important to be good on-camera when recording video?
Ruth Sherman: Because it’s a great way to connect with a lot of people at once. As humans, we are wired to connect face-to-face and video satisfies this need. Email, text, IM, and even phone can’t compete with the riches of meaning inherent in video. Furthermore, we’ve all been trained, by watching TV and going to the movies, to expect a certain type of personality on-camera. Any time a person deviates from that, it creates “noise” or a distraction. So if you’re boring, or you speak in a monotone or if the way you look is dissonant with your message, people will turn off. Literally.
SmallBizLady: What’s the biggest roadblock for people when they are recording video?
Ruth Sherman: The biggest obstacle is making the time to practice. This is on-the-job training. You simply cannot get better at relating on video unless you do video. Practicing is usually done alone and it can therefore be boring and tedious. I say you have to G.O.I (Get Over It), and G.I.D. (Get It Done).
SmallBizLady: People have a lot of fear and anxiety around video. Is there a way around that?
Ruth Sherman: There are two issues that combine to create this fear and anxiety. The first is that everyone hates the way they look on video – even my Oscar-winning celebrity clients. It’s universal. It’s like the first time you heard your voice played back, only 100 times more painful. We are seeing ourselves as other people see us, perhaps for the first time and we just have to get used to all our facial flaws and asymmetries. The other issue is technology. The good news here is while there is a little start-up time, you probably already have everything you need to shoot video… a webcam or smartphone, software, lights from around the house or office are all just fine to get started with.
SmallBizLady: How polished do you have to be in your videos?
Ruth Sherman: Strive for connection, NOT perfection. If you observe yourself in everyday business conversation, you’ll note there are stumbles, repeats, and other missteps when you speak. It’s the same on-camera. People connect with others who are more like they are, not someone who looks perfect and never stumbles over a single words. Of course, you do have to practice and you will get better and quicker over time.
SmallBizLady: How long should your videos be?
Ruth Sherman: Keep your videos short. Under 2 minutes and preferably under 1. That may sound extreme, but the truth is that until you gain followership, people will not stick with you past about 1.5-2 minutes. There is a lot competing for people’s attention, so you have to grab, give and go.
SmallBizLady: What type of equipment should you have to set up a studio in a home office?
Ruth Sherman: The only must have is a computer with a good webcam. The other important element is light, so either shoot videos during the day outside or position your camera in front of a window so daylight floods your face OR use 3 lamps with good, bright bulbs that are positioned to your front right and left and to your rear over your head or behind you, but out of sight. This is called 3-point lighting. Eventually, pick up some inexpensive softboxes, professional lights that you can get for under $200 and that do the trick when the sun goes down.
SmallBizLady: Do you have any recommendations for DIY editing programs?
Ruth Sherman: I use iMovie that comes with all Macs. For PCs with built-in webcams, there is built in editing software, such as Microsoft Movie. You can also purchase a program like Sony Movie Studio (the least expensive versions are plenty good enough), which range from between $50 and $100. Also, YouTube has an online editing program that is rudimentary, but works in a pinch from any computer, anywhere. And, like everything YouTube, it’s free. All of these are very easy to use, though of course, they require a small learning curve.
SmallBizLady: If I need a professional editing how much should I expect to pay and where are some good places to find editing professionals?
Ruth Sherman: For most people, there is no need to hire expensive editors. Fiverr is one of the best places to find professionals worldwide who can do your editing for, literally, $5. Another place is ODesk. College students who are majoring in film or marketing may also be a good choice. Ask for references from people whose videos you’ve seen that look professionally edited. After you’ve been doing it awhile, you may feel the need to “go pro,” but not until you’re really comfortable with the camera. For example, I’ve been doing videos and editing them myself for the past 2.5 years. I just invested in a professional video series because I felt I was comfortable enough to get the most out of my investment. The last thing you need is to pay thousands of dollars for a professional video setup and you look uncomfortable or cannot read a teleprompter easily.
SmallBizLady: People say that to connect with others on video, you should just “be yourself.” But that is so vague. Can you clarify what it means?
Ruth Sherman: We all have many different selves and we adapt to different communication environments. We are different with friends over a glass of wine than we are with clients. We’re different with an infant, than we are with adults. We’re different with our families, than we are with our boss. And we’re different on-camera, too. So it’s actually an extension of yourself, just like we naturally do in those other situations.
SmallBizLady: What about hair and makeup for video?
Ruth Sherman: Street makeup is enough. So whatever you put on to see a client is what you should use for video, with the exception of powder to eliminate shine. It is different than being in a professional studio where the lights are very harsh. Regarding clothing, stick to solid colors that go well with your skin tone and pop against the background. Dive into your closet and see what clothes you have that you might not wear out, but would work great for an upper-torso video shot. Stay away from prints, plaids, and stripes.
SmallBizLady: Do you have any tips on lighting?
Ruth Sherman: Daylight is the best light. Everyone looks great with daylight flooding their face. So position your camera so you are facing a nice, bright window, or get outside, weather permitting. If it’s dark out, use what you have available, but remember video eats light for dinner, so remove the shades and turn the bulbs up to their highest level of brightness. If you’re ready to take the next step, good, professional lights are available for under $200.
SmallBizLady: So many videos are boring. How do you create content that keeps audiences riveted to you and your message?
Ruth Sherman: Talk about what you know and give people what they need. So here are some quick content tips: 1) Write down the FAQs that you get and answer them in a series of short videos. 2) Take the language of your niche or area of expertise and jot down words or phrases, then define them in a couple of sentences. 3) Tips and secrets are another easy content tip. Don’t forget to shoot video on the fly, do interviews, and shoot video when you’re in a beautiful or interesting location. Every time is a good time to shoot video.
SmallBizLady: You’re a big proponent of practice and rehearsal. How much is enough?
Ruth Sherman: When I tell people how much they have to practice, they get upset. But the truth is that the magic is in the practice. Think of any other skill you want to become proficient at, from sports to music. This is no different. It’s muscle memory. Winston Churchill practiced 1 hour for every 1 minute of speech. This is what the best presenters do. And it means saying it out loud. In your head doesn’t count.
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Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is America’s #1 small business experts. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.