Let’s pretend you need to change the battery in your vehicle, but you’ve never done it before and you’re not exactly mechanically inclined.
You have two options for how you learn to accomplish the task. Either you can dig through your car manual and try to find the relevant instructions, or you can watch a two-minute YouTube video. Which option would you choose?
While some may opt for the written manual, my guess is that at least 80 per cent of people would choose to watch the YouTube video.
Whether we’re looking to be educated or entertained, video content is often the medium of choice; therefore, if we’re looking to engage our audience for personal or professional reasons, we should focus our attention on producing video content.
But there’s a challenge. Speaking in front of a camera lens and recording video content is a scary and intimidating process for many people.
In this month’s column and the accompanying video, I provide a few tips to help you build your confidence before hitting the record button.
Don’t let the way you look/sound bother you
One of the biggest hindrances that stops people from producing video content is that they hate the way they look or sound when they watch it back.
The first thing to remember is that this is normal. I’ve been creating YouTube content for several years, and it’s often cringy to go back and watch my old videos. But remember that your audience doesn’t think of it that way.
Your friends or clients already know what you look and sound like and they’ll simply be appreciative of the fact you’re providing helpful content in a medium they enjoy consuming.
You don’t have to post every video
A friend of mine who got over his own fear of shooting video content shared an awesome tip with me that I hadn’t thought of previously—you don’t have to post every video you shoot.
In order to build the habit of shooting video content, he would create videos every day and simply save them to his camera roll. After a couple weeks of doing these, he became more comfortable in front of the camera and decided he might as well share the content he was already going to the work of creating to social media.
If you want to start creating videos, remember that no one is forcing you to upload these videos. The key is to practice shooting the content to get comfortable.
You can edit and splice together
It's very difficult to shoot a video perfectly in one take without making any mistakes. The good news is, you don’t have to.
If you watch my videos closely, there are many jump cuts where I splice together clips and make it flow in the editing process. What this means is that you don’t have to memorize an entire script. Remember a few sentences you want to say, look at the camera and deliver those, then pause, check your notes, and memorize the next few sentences, look at the camera and repeat this process.
Use a sticky note and bullet points
While the third tip is a good one, what if you’re shooting a live video and don’t have the luxury of editing your content?
A subtle sticky note behind the camera can help remind you of the topics you want to address in the video you’re filming. These bullet point reminders will help keep you on track as you deliver the live video content.
With that said, ensure you don’t write down all of your text verbatim and attempt to read it on camera. Your audience will know you’re reading off of a script, and the video won’t feel as genuine.
Smile more than you think you need to
You need to smile!
Most people are so focused on saying the right words when they shoot a video that they forget they need to smile. By not smiling, your video will not feel as inviting or engaging to your audience.
At the top of the sticky note I mentioned inthe previous tip, write “SMILE” in big letters as a constant reminder.
Batch content in a single shoot
Since you have gone to all the effort of setting up your camera, getting your lighting just right and ensuring all of your equipment is set up properly, you might as well shoot more than one video.
I typically will shoot a minimum of four videos every time I record for YouTube. This makes it easier and less of a chore, because, if it’s my goal to post a new video every week, I only have to record content once per month.
If you’re going to take me up on this tip to batch content, ensure you wear different shirts so it looks like you recorded the content on different days.
I hope these tips help you get over your fear of recording video content and are helpful.
If you’re thinking about joining Toastmasters to improve your public speaking skills, our Kelowna AM Toastmasters Club is always looking for new members.
If you’re interested in learning more about Impactful Communication, subscribe to my YouTube channel.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.
The term “persuasion” can sometimes have a negative connotation.
But persuading somebody to do something we truly believe in isn’t a bad thing. For example, in my monthly Castanet columns I attempt to persuade you, the reader, to focus on improving your public speaking and communication skills.
Why? Because I’m convinced effective communication can improve your business and social relationships.
Learning how to persuade one person to do something is a challenge in itself; however, persuading an entire audience to take action is even more difficult.
In this month’s column, I break down five ways to create a powerful speech, with the goal of influencing your audience.
1. Establish credibility
If I’m trying to convince you to buy a boat, but I don’t own a boat myself, you’re likely to be skeptical about my pitch.
Establishing credibility is one of the most important parts of creating a persuasive speech, because your audience is much more likely to take your message seriously if you have the experience to back up your position.
But what if you don’t have experience yet?
While experience plays a major role, you can also establish credibility by doing research and knowing your subject matter inside out. For example, a new member of a volunteer committee may have a suggestion to make, but fears he/she may not be taken seriously due to inexperience. In this case, the best thing this person could do is review minutes from previous meetings and research data to support the suggestion he/she plans to bring forward.
2. Appeal to your audience’s emotions
Going back to the boat example from the first point, if you’re going to convince individuals in an audience to purchase a boat, you’re likely going to have to tap into their emotional side. Here’s an example of how this could be done while delivering a speech:
“I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself on a warm, sunny afternoon in Kelowna. You and your family step onto your boat, exit the marina, and then speed through Okanagan Lake on the way to your favourite cove. As you glide through the water, the wind blows your hair back and your children are smiling from ear-to-ear. This is what summer in the Okanagan is all about.”
Who doesn’t love the sound of the previous paragraph? We all know boats are expensive to own and require a lot of maintenance… but those concerns can be dealt with later. First, you need to win over your audience by creating a desire for the thing you’re attempting to convince them of doing.
3. Dispel misconceptions
Depending on what you are trying to persuade your audience to do, they may resist your message based on information they heard prior to your speech.
Sticking with the boating example, maybe people have heard the phrase that the two happiest days boat owners have is the day they buy the boat and the day they sell it. In your speech, you may want to address that misconception head-on, and provide your counter-argument.
How do you do this?
You could present survey results or data that shows a high percentage of boat owners are happy they made the decision to purchase a boat 5 years after becoming an owner.
By disarming predictable points of resistance, your audience will be more likely to take your message seriously.
4. Provide “social proof”
“Social proof” is an idea that people are more likely to do something that others — especially those they admire or look up to — have done.
If you’re speaking to a crowd of employees at a company, perhaps you can add an element of persuasion by showing a slide that illustrates how the company CEO is an advocate of your product. Or, if it’s a general audience you’re presenting to, you could consider showcasing celebrities or influential people who embrace the product/service/concept you’re pitching.
5. Create a level of urgency
By ending your presentation with a limited-time offer, you force your audience to embrace your idea or risk facing FOMO (fear of missing out).
The longer your audience waits to take action after your presentation, the more likely they are to get distracted or forget the compelling reason why they were interested in what you had to say in the first place.
Your goal is to get the audience to take action as soon as possible, while your speech is still fresh in their minds.
I hope these five tips help you the next time you have to conduct a sales presentation or convince your audience to donate at a local fundraiser.
“What is a hormone that has given you challenges recently?”
Imagine being asked that question and then, within seconds, a room full of people begin clapping as they expect you to walk to the front of the room and deliver a response for one-to-two minutes.
Welcome to Table Topics at Toastmasters.
Don’t worry, the questions aren’t usually that hard. A more common question would be something along the lines of: If you could be any superhero, who would you be? Or, what is the best type of chocolate bar and why?
The hormone question was one that was given to me by a fellow Toastmasters a few years ago. We had an ongoing tradition of giving each other incredibly challenging questions, so I should’ve saw it coming. Thankfully, I was thinking quickly on that particular Thursday morning, and began my response with: “The human growth hormone has not only been giving me challenges recently, it has impacted me throughout my entire life. As you can see, I’m five-foot-eight, and I wish I was taller…”
The purpose of Table Topics is to practice impromptu speaking. Every meeting, a Table Topics Master will pick random club members and ask them a question, which is typically related to the theme of the meeting. The audience will then begin clapping and the individual who was asked the question will walk to the front of the room and deliver a response.
In the video attached to this month’s column, I demonstrate a live example of answering a Table Topics question. The question I was asked at that particular meeting was whether I’d rather be in a pit with spiders, snakes or beetles (and the Table Topics Master referenced the show Fear Factor).
As you can see in my response, I don’t actually answer the question; instead, I speak about how it would’ve been advantageous to appear on Fear Factor and get to know Joe Rogan, considering the success he has enjoyed over the past two decades.
While it’s always good to make an effort to answer the question directly, that’s not the most important thing when it comes to Table Topics. The number one goal is to stand in front of the audience and speak for one-to-two minutes, which is incredibly difficult when you don’t have advance notice of what you’re going to be talking about.
Over the years, I have seen many brand new Toastmasters members struggle to speak for a full minute; however, after a couple months of attending Toastmasters meetings, their confidence grows quickly. Eventually, their biggest challenge is not speaking for too long.
Table Topics is one of the most exciting (and scary) elements of a Toastmasters meeting. If you want to give it a try, I’d encourage you to visit one of our amazing local Toastmasters clubs.
Over the past decade, I’ve worked hard to improve my public speaking skills.
Throughout that time, I’ve observed there are five essential categories that, when mastered, can elevate any speaker head and shoulders above the rest.
In this month’s column, I will break down those five elements and explain why each is so important.
Good speeches are usually built with a beginning, a middle and an end. But the best speeches, in my opinion, have a strong opening statement, a middle that builds on that idea, and then a conclusion that references the idea that was mentioned in the intro. This type of “full circle” speech takes your audience on a ride and concludes with a level of cohesiveness that makes it feel as though everything fit perfectly together.
As an example, if you were delivering a speech about gambling addiction, a powerful intro/beginning could be:
I placed all of the money I owned on red and took a step back from the roulette table. I watched as the little white ball bounced around the wheel, and I knew that, wherever it landed, my life would be changed forever.
This is an impactful speech opening that is likely to capture the audience’s attention and leave them wondering what happened next.
The middle/body of the speech could then talk about the problems associated with gambling addiction, and how serious of a problem it can be.
The speech could conclude with:
After bouncing around for what seemed like an eternity, that little white ball finally landed on a number: 11. It was black. All of my money was gone. And it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me, because that was the day I decided gambling would no longer control my life.
Eliminate filler words
Filler words are the unnecessary words and sounds we add between sentences as an alternative to silence. Words like “uhh,” “ahh,” “umm,” “err,” “so,” and “but” are commonly injected into speeches because amateur speakers feel uncomfortable with the sound of silence. But these filler words can be distracting for an audience, and can take away from the actual speech itself.
The first step in eliminating filler words is to understand which filler words you use. This can be accomplished by recording yourself practicing a speech, or doing a speech in front of a friend or family member and asking them to point out any filler words you use.
Within the Toastmasters program, there is an “ah” counter assigned to each meeting, and the purpose of his/her role is to inform club members how often they used filler words when speaking.
Once you’re aware of what your filler words are, you will begin to catch yourself using them when talking and it will act as a reminder to replace those words with silence.
Leverage body language
There have been several studies done that indicate body language has a bigger impact on the way a message is communicated then the actual words spoken.
This makes sense. If I was to say the sentence, “I’m having a great time,” with a low, monotone voice, while rolling my eyes and crossing my arms, it would be clear that I’m not actually having a great time. But if I’m smiling and I add excitement to my voice, it indicates I’m being honest and truly am enjoying myself.
Purposeful body language adds depth to a speech and helps keep your audience engaged.
Incorporate vocal variety
Vocal variety is one of the most underrated aspects of public speaking, but can play a huge role in keeping your audience interested in what you have to say. By increasing or decreasing the volume of your speech, you can quickly recapture your audience’s attention and bring them in with what you have to say.
Likewise, you can adjust your speaking pace by speeding up or slowing down. If you’re talking about running late to an important meeting and you were running to catch your bus and you almost missed it, you should pick up the pace to match the story. Or, if you hear some terrible news about the health of a loved one, it’s more impactful to lower your voice and slow down the pace of your speech.
Humour does two powerful things, it relaxes you (the speaker), and perhaps more importantly, it relaxes your audience.
Whenever an audience begins listening to someone give a speech, they often wonder whether or not it’s going to be an enjoyable experience. If the speaker can make them laugh, especially early on, it relaxes the crowd as they realize it’s going to be an entertaining speech to listen to.
If you can make your audience laugh, it gives you an instant boost of confidence as you realize the audience is enjoying themselves. Your goal should be to inject humour within the first minute of your speech.
If you can master these five areas, I truly believe you will become a phenomenal public speaker.
I hope these tips help you tackle difficult audience questions you may face in the future.
If you’re interested in learning more about Impactful Communication, subscribe to my YouTube channel and if you’re interested in my course, Mastering The 5 Essentials Of Public Speaking, check it out here.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.