shadow

Video Interviewing 101

Lights, Camera, Interview!

Job interview via video? It’s a major trend in the hiring process!

If you’ve made it this far in the process, the last thing you want to do is look like an amateur. Since appearances are all-important in front the video screen, it may be less about how you answer the questions, and more about what you look like while answering.  Here are three quick and easy ways to make a great impression on your next interview.

1. Set the Stage. Think about what’s behind you. What’s the background that the interviewer will see? You want to eliminate any distractions that prevent the interviewer from focusing their complete attention on you.  So you may love that death metal poster on your bedroom wall, but think about the signal that sends to your prospective employer.

A blank wall with nothing on it at is a pretty safe bet.  If that’s not possible, think of yourself as being the center image in a picture frame. You can have a little something to your left and right, but keep it really simple. YOU must be the focal point of the image that the other person is looking at. Do a test run with a friend to see how your “studio” looks to the person on the other side of the camera.

2. Lighting. Lighting should compliment your appearance. Depending on your bone structure, bad lighting will accentuate under-eye circles or give you a double chin you never knew you had.  That means having lights on either side of you to avoid casting a shadow on your face. Or, if you have a sunny window, sit facing it so that the sun bathes your face in natural light. Avoid back-lighting under all circumstances! That means no sunny windows behind you.

3. Audio. Make sure you conduct your interview in a quiet location.  Get rid of the dog, put away the cat, and ask your noisy neighbors to be quiet for 30-minutes until you conclude the interview. Also, to avoid sounding like you are in an echo chamber, try to minimize the number of hard surfaces in the interview space. So, cover bare wood floors with a throw rug, put a towel on your desk top or even add a couple of pillows to either side of your device to soak up some of the sound. And finally, sit close to the monitor so that you sound loud and clear.

These three tips will elevate your appearance and give off that polished, professional image that you want to convey.

Start Me Up!

After a long winter’s nap, That Media Chick is getting ready to start up a whole new venture in 2017 – and I can’t wait!

The reason for the excitement and hullabaloo is that I’m joining forces with Content Academy as an instructor. I am thrilled to be part of this awesome group of experts as we collectively share our knowledge with people eager to learn new skills — or refresh old ones. For my part, that means sharing my tips, tricks and years of video wisdom with people who want to improve their on-camera performance.

 

First, Content Academy, and then, world domination!

But seriously folks, as a former network TV news anchor, (see photographic evidence above) I am passionate about helping people improve their on-camera performance. I used to do it all the time while working at what used to be known as “The World’s Most Important Network.” I was the patron saint of college interns who wanted to put together a demo reel to apply for their first jobs out of school. It was fun, rewarding, and along the way, I developed a system to help people improve their performance and boost their on-camera confidence.

After all, it took me years of hard work and practice to get from point A to point Z in my broadcast career. I pretty much had me, myself and I as my “performance coaches” as I stumbled my way through letters B, C, D and beyond. The knowledge I gained through years of trial and error means that I can help you get from point A to point Z faster,  skipping most of those other letters in the process.

So, grab your make-up, put on a happy face, and let’s get crack-a-lacking, shall we?

Stay tuned for a few helpful tips — like B, C, D and more — to help you go from video zero to video hero!

Why Harness The Power of Video?

Today’s post was prompted by something I read today– an incredible, statistics-fueled testimonial to the power of video!

Did you know that:

  1. Video generates 3x as many monthly visitors to a website as other content
  2. Visitors spend 88% more time on a website that includes video
  3. Organic traffic from search engines increases by 157%
  4. Consumers are 46% more likely to seek information about a product or service after seeing in an online video
  5. Consumers are 85% more likely to buy after watching a product video
  6. After watching a product video, consumers have 52% more confidence in their online purchase

What it all boils down to is that video attracts people to your website like a bear to honey, a cow to cabbage, a monkey to bananas, or… you get the idea.

Putting a video on your website is a huge opportunity for you to add tremendous value to your brand. And thanks to cell phones and other devices that shoot HD video, it’s easier than ever to put a high-quality video message before thousands of eyeballs. No matter what your budget or your ability, it is possible to create video content that resonates with your desired audience.

There’s never been a better time to be a DIY video maven!

Need a little guidance? Check in with That Chick!

5 Top Tips for Home Video Awesomeness

You Tube + cell phone video = viral video

Okay, that may be an over-simplification of how easy it is to go viral, but let’s just say, it’s totally possible for just about anyone with a clever idea, a cell phone and internet access to get their face and their story in front of hundreds, thousands, and if you go viral, potentially millions of viewers. Even if you don’t have any designs on viral video fame and fortune, odds are, you’ll be going on camera at some point in your life, even if it’s something as simple as FaceTiming or Skyping your friends, family, or a business contact.

In the old days, say, 15 years ago, most mere mortals rarely, if ever, got their chance to be on screen.  That was pretty much the realm of actors, actresses, sports celebrities, reality show stars and TV anchors and reporters.

Not anymore.

Now, it’s a level playing field where virtually anyone can get on camera and be seen. So, as someone who spent the better part of 2 decades in front of a TV camera, my mission in this blog is to share my top 5 professional pointers on putting your best face forward when the camera starts rolling.

1. Put on a happy face.  Ever wonder why TV news anchors always look so great? Aside from their natural good looks, they know that a little make-up helps them put their best face forward. For women looking to be on their own video or Skype call, this means the requisite foundation, blush, lipstick and mascara. For guys, it can be as simple as a little translucent face powder to keep your forehead – and if you are sporting a shaved head – to keep your chrome dome from blinding the viewer. A little tinted powder can also tamp down your 5 O’Clock shadow, unless, of course, it is part of your look.

2. Avoid wardrobe malfunctions.  This sounds pretty easy, but the key here is to keep your clothes from overpowering your message. Avoid pure black, pure white, bright neon colors, tiny stripes or busy patterns. All of these wardrobe no-no’s can keep you from looking your best and even become a distraction for the person on the other side of the video screen.

3. Check your rearview.  Besides distracting clothing, you also need to think about what’s in the background of your video. Be pro-active to avoid embarrassing photo bombing by wandering dogs, cats, or other assorted family members on your next Skype video chat or Google hangout with your boss. It’s also a good idea to think about home or office decor. Check to be sure that there aren’t any pictures, plants, lamps, etc. directly behind you. The last thing you want is for it to appear that you’ve got a lamp sitting on your shoulder, or a ficus tree growing out of the top of your head.

4. You light up my life. Lighting is something that many Skype users and home video creators tend to overlook. Check to see where the lighting is coming from. Ideally, you want your face to be the place that’s illuminated. Elements in the background, not so much. Avoid sitting with a sunny window behind you, because because back-lighting will overpower the camera lens, leaving you in the dark.

5. Quiet on the set. The one thing that’s worse than bad lighting, is having a perfect video ruined by screeching sirens or the roar of a jet flying overhead. I actually worked on a project once where the talent was taping an interview in the studio, and I could distinctly hear the wail of a train whistle in the background. For those of you working from home, other audio no-no’s to consider are barking dogs, crying babies or people carrying on a conversation within earshot. Odds are, if you can hear it, so can the person you’re chatting with. You don’t want to compete with these things to just be heard, to say nothing of throwing off your concentration and making yourself come off as amateurish.

Keep these five tips in mind the next time you get in front of a video camera, and I promise that you’ll be pleased with the results. Heck, you may even become the next viral video superstar.

 

 

5 Media Training Tips that Get Results

commentI recently attended a seminar delivered by two seasoned speakers with decades of experience to share with the audience. Their delivery was lively, and the information they shared was fantastic. So why was everyone in the room falling asleep?

The speakers were presenting their expertise at a session dubbed “How to Get Publicity for Your Business.” The only problem was their speech was geared more toward a Chamber of Commerce audience, not a gathering of freelancers and solo practitioners. Hence, the glazed-over stares and lack of any audience feedback and participation. It was painful to watch, and I offered my most encouraging smiles when the speakers looked my way, which they did a lot, probably because I was the only one in the audience showing any signs of life.

That brings me to my first media training tip, which is to tailor your message to your audience. Customize your conversation to match each situation. It’s one of the very first things I share with the clients that I coach.

My second tip is to dole out your expertise using everyday language that people will understand, free of industry jargon and technical terms.

The third concept is a little trickier. Learn to deliver your information in clever and concise statements that make great quotes or sound bites. This one takes practice, and it correlates directly to tips four and five below.

Tip number four: be yourself. People prefer to listen to someone who feels genuine, not a robot who is parroting “key messages.”

Fifth, and most importantly: let your passion shine through. When you are genuinely excited about what you are sharing, people can’t help but be drawn to you and your message. Enthusiasm is contagious, and makes for great sound bites.

Follow these five tips, and not only will you be sought out as a speaker, but reporters and bloggers will be picking up the phone to contact you for your expertise.

 

 

 

Great VO Artists Are Made, Not Born

The truth of the matter is that constant practice that makes the perfect voiceover talent.

Depending on the listener, the qualities of a great voiceover artist can be a little subjective. But here are a few things they all have in common:

  • enunciation
  • articulation
  • intelligent pronunciation
  • neutral accent
  • pleasant speaking voice
  • warm and resonant vocal tones
  • conversational approach

For most of us in voiceover land, these important skills don’t develop overnight; there are a few lucky folks who are naturally gifted, but most of us have to work at it.

In addition, no matter how much you practice, some voices are simply better suited to certain genres than others. Not everyone can do a killer commercial, and it takes a special touch to read complicated medical terminology and sound credible.

Even during idle periods, the artist needs to stay in practice lest his or her “instrument” get rusty.

I find the simplest way to keep my pipes in the pink is merely talking along as I listen to commercials I hear on the radio while I’m driving about town, or mirroring the inflection of a really great read I hear in an audio book.

So the next time you see some crazy lady talking to herself while driving in rush hour traffic, don’t jump to conclusions. It could just be your local voice over talent giving her voice a workout.

Voiceover Continuing Education

Many years ago, my PR professor at OSU taught me one of my favorite phrases: “you gotta circulate to percolate.”

I recently was circulating at the Midwestern Voiceover Conference in Columbus, Ohio, home of my alma mater, The Ohio State University. It was a great continuing education experience that was well worth the 12-hundred mile round trip from Atlanta.  Rubbing elbows with some of the top voiceover talent around is an experience unlike any other.

More than anything, the event highlights the fact that no matter how much or how little experience you have in the field, you can always benefit from the exchange of ideas and information from your peers. I was thrilled to meet my voiceover role model, the fabulous Bill DeWees. I’m inspired by his story, which in many ways, parallels mine. We’re both roughly the same age, and both of us were laid off around the same time from cushy, long-time corporate gigs. That experience taught me that you should always have and pursue a Plan B in your career. Because at the end of the day, it’s up to YOU to take care of yourself. You can’t rely on a company to repay years of loyalty by taking care of you or fulfilling your dreams.

That’s why I love Bill’s success story so much. Not only is he talented, the guy is a marketing genius who created his amazing voiceover empire from the ground up. Simply put, his mastery of marketing allowed him to go from zero to financial hero in the span of one short year.  And he’s just plain good people, who generously shares his knowledge with others interested in following in his professional footsteps. 

Here’s to the joys of lifelong learning. 

 

5 Low Tech Tips to Better Audio

digital_camcorder     Audio is the most important part of your video.

Let me explain. When you make a video, you need to pay special attention to the audio. That’s because the viewer will forgive you for less-than-perfect video, but if the audio is muffled, hard to understand, if there is background noise, or if you sound like you are speaking from the bottom of a well, people won’t stick around to watch your video or listen to what you have to say. Nothing screams “amateur” like bad audio.

5 low-tech tricks to improve audio quality of your next recording.

  1. Up close and personal. If you’re using the microphone in your cellphone or video camera, try to get as close to the microphone as you can to avoid an overly “roomy” sound.
  2. Avoid recording outside.  Unless you’re okay with the sound of planes, trains and automobiles in your video.
  3. Find a quiet place to record. Put the dog, cat and the kids in another room. Turn off any noise-makers in the area –  things like cell phones, air conditioning units, fans, buzzing flourescent lights.
  4. Create a padded room. Audio bounces around on hard surfaces. That includes hardwood, tiled or concrete floors, and walls. Soft surfaces will absorb that echo and make your audio sound crisp. Carpet is a great dulling device. So are those moving blankets you can get at your neighborhood U-Haul or even find on Craig’s List.
  5. Go in the closet. If you are only recording audio, believe it or not, a closet full of clothes is a great place to do it.

Finally, If you have a few bucks to spare, invest in a good microphone. There are 3 main types:

        • Lavalier microphone – like TV news anchors wear.
        • Hand-held microphone – like speakers use in a conference room
        • Boom microphone – like TV news crews use. Basically, it’s a microphone on a long pole. The mic is held out of view – either above or below your head to gather your audio.

So next time you are making a video, remember these top tips for great audio, and you’ll sound like a real pro.

The Art of Voiceovers

I once described what I do as “halfway between fake and normal.”

Let me explain. In normal, everyday conversation, people communicate with more than just their voices. It’s a combination of several elements: your voice, facial expressions, gestures, posture and even your smile. In voiceovers, your voice has to do the job of all of the above. It has to project emotion that you would see in your face and convey the subtle messages that your body language projects. For that reason, when a normal person reads a voiceover script in a normal voice, it actually comes off sounding monotone and, well, boring.

How to sound “natural” in a voice-over narration

Ironically, to sound natural, you actually have to hype your delivery. Exaggerate your inflection to convey excitement, happiness, concern, anxiety, anger, mystery — whatever the desired emotion. Think of how you talk to a baby – the pitch of your voice changes, your cadence takes on a sing-song and exaggerated quality, and you may even enunciate more deliberately.

In other words, you are half way between fake and normal.

The odd part of it is that this half-fake-half-normal voiceover delivery winds up sounding completely normal on TV or the radio. If I talked to you like that in a normal conversation, you’d probably ask me if I’d had too much caffeine, and to dial it back a notch.