In the rapidly changing marketplace, all of us have to adopt new tools, new platforms and fresh messaging to connect to our audience. Currently, many sellers and marketers utilize video to communicate with their audience. However, a lot of them failed to truly build deeper relationships, sell solutions and enhance their reputation.
In today’s episode, Julie Hansen talks about her sales and video marketing expertise. She shares her transition story from an actor to a virtual selling expert who utilizes video to connect and build relationships with her customers. She also gives some of her tips and tricks on doing well in front of the camera that will make your video remarkable and exceptional.
Julie is a virtual selling expert and author of the Amazon bestseller, Look Me In The Eye: Using Video To Build Relationships with Customers, Partners and Teams. A former actor, Julie brings a unique blend of on-camera and sales experience to her Selling On Video Workshops and Training programs.
In this Episode
- [00:19] – Stephan introduces his next guest, Julie Hansen, a virtual selling expert and author of the Amazon bestseller, Look Me In The Eye: Using Video To Build Relationships with Customers, Partners and Teams.
- [01:22] – Julie narrates her transition story from acting to selling expert specializing in video for marketing.
- [03:43] – Stephan asks about her book and how it came about compared to just doing workshops and working one-on-one with clients privately.
- [05:19] – Julie tells the biggest and most damaging mistakes people make while on camera.
- [07:42] – Julie communicates some tips while pre-recording videos in front of a camera.
- [10:45] – Stephan wants to know how Julie trains somebody to have better skills and make it part of their muscle memory.
- [13:08] – Julie and Stephan discuss a few exercises to warm up and get into a peak energy state.
- [20:13] – Stephan asks about the ways of getting someone in their best self-state when they know they’re being watched and judged.
- [23:43] – Julie explains the techniques of looking at the camera and when to look beyond the camera.
- [25:14] – Stephan wants Julie to share body language tips in terms of hand and body positioning with the listeners.
- [31:45] – Stephan and Julie share their thoughts relating to appearance, especially in high-stakes video situations.
- [37:09] – Julie emphasizes the importance of being prepared for different situations and having flexible lighting, having a good set of lights that you can move around.
- [41:09] – Stephan asks for recommendations around microphones both indoors and outdoors.
- [45:41] – Visit Julie Hansen’s website to get in touch with her, take her courses and get coaching and training on how to look at the camera. Also, check out her book Looked Me in the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers to find answers to questions of thousands of sales and marketers over the past year.
Julie, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Great to be here, Stephan.
First of all, let’s start with your origin story. How did you end up specializing in video for marketing? I know there’s a story arc through the acting world so let’s start there.
It definitely was an entrée through acting. Like most actors, I started out in theater. You do a lot of stage work and it’s very much face-to-face interaction. You read your audience, you can see when things land, when they don’t, and you feed off that energy. We have honed our face-to-face skills our entire life so that’s fairly natural.
I did that for a couple of years then I had the chance to audition for a small film. I just went in not anticipating it to be much different except that they have a camera on. Of course, I got in there and they had me slate, say your name, speak, and I was just like a deer in headlights looking at the camera. Oh my gosh, do I just stare at the camera? Do I look at the other person? What do I do with my hands? They feel so unnatural.
It was not a good audition. About 30 seconds they said, okay, thank you. We’ll be in touch. Of course, they were not in touch and I did not get that role, not much to my surprise. I found that what most actors do when they’re going to transition from stage to film, or television, or video is they take on-camera training. They take the skills classes so they can communicate in the same way that they can make those adaptations to communicate effectively through the camera.
That’s what I did and it really was so important. I don’t think I would have gotten a part until I did that because I was just really floundering in front of the camera. When the pandemic struck and I saw these sellers and marketers trying to suddenly go on camera and get all the technology and tools but not really have an understanding of how we need to adapt ourselves, our behaviors, and how people read things on their screens, I thought, wow this is something I learned and I can certainly help pass it on to the business world.
When did your book come out and how did that come about compared to just doing workshops and working one-on-one with clients privately?
I had been working with sales teams, marketers, and entrepreneurs on presentation skills, communicating, and pitching for many years. Of course, that sort of died down after the pandemic, so I took the time to put together some videos, which became the selling on video masterclass, which is how do you make eye contact? How do you read body language? What do you do with your body? How do you use your face to support what you’re saying?
Then I started coaching all these different individuals. We’re using video for all different purposes, whether it’s sending recordings, whether it’s having face-to-face meetings. Out of that, I heard all their frustrations and concerns like gosh, I get in front of the camera and I can’t look at it. It just feels like I’m looking at nothing, I am just really flat, and I can’t get my personality out there. I got to work with them through all their issues.
Out of that came the book and I tried to cover all these questions that people who’ve never worked in front of the camera before have. Somehow in business, we just assume that people are going to figure it out, which is crazy because there’s a whole industry that’s already figured it out that we haven’t tapped into.
This is something I learned, and I can certainly help pass it on to the business world.
That’s a great point. If we start with some of the tips and tricks to do well on camera, maybe we start with the mistakes, some of the biggest mistakes people have, looking down, for example. If they’re on camera, let’s say on a Zoom call, and they’re looking at another person, and they’re looking down, that’s breaking eye contact, that doesn’t look good, and probably doesn’t lead to the sale. What are some of the big mistakes that you see time and time again?
That’s probably the biggest and the most damaging mistake because if you think about it, eye contact conveys friendliness, it conveys openness, trustworthiness. We trust people more that make a direct gaze than those that avert their eyes that indicates that we’re up to something, or suspicious, or guilty, or lack confidence.
And eyes are the windows to the soul.
Absolutely. I think we are the only mammals that have the whites of the eyes around the iris, so we can tell precisely where people are looking. Oftentimes, we’ll say I’m close to looking at my camera, but it’s a very different experience. We’re very adept at reading the precision of the location people are looking at it. If you’re just looking slightly over my right shoulder, it’s just off-putting. We’re experts at this face-to-face, so we have to strive for that kind of precision and connection on camera to get that same experience.
A lot of times people say well, gosh, everyone knows I’m looking at the screen, I’m looking at their face as if that makes it okay. We’re applying logic to it. Humans are building relationships based on emotion, not necessarily logic. Frankly, our customers are not going to make excuses for us. Our mom might say oh, I know that she’s looking at me on her screen, but my customer isn’t going to do that. All they know is it feels like you’re not paying attention, you’re not that interested, and those are not qualities that are going to help build that relationship or drive that sale.
What about if you’re pre-recording a video, it’s just you doing a selfie video for your marketing landing page. I find that if I’m not speaking to someone, if I’m just speaking to dead air, I’ll keep backspacing myself, keep editing myself, keep recording over and over again because it’s not perfect and that just drives me bonkers. I hate shooting video, at least if nobody is on the other end. Is that something that you come across? Is that pretty typical?
Humans are building relationships based on emotion, not necessarily logic.
Oh, that’s so common. You described it very well. It’s such a different experience to talk to the camera and not have anyone there. At its baseline, that is acting. You are an actor. Actors trained for that. They don’t just turn on the camera and have this natural ability to do it. I think it’s crazy that we think people are going to pick this up, it really is a learned skill.
To your point, you mentioned a couple of things that I think really inhibit people. The first one is this idea that it’s got to be perfect and that’s not necessarily what people are looking for. I don’t expect people to send me a marketing video unless it’s a super polished campaign or something. It would be odd if there was a big mistake in it. I don’t expect outreach to be perfect, but I expect it to feel like you’re talking to me. That’s what’s going to connect me to you.
We’re always talking to someone through the camera, and that is one thing that people can tell is when you’re talking to the camera, and you just have no one in mind, you’re just talking to the ether. Not only do you have a less intimate gaze, and everything about you is more generalized and broad, but you’re also very disconnected from the passion of why you’re having this conversation. You’re just saying words at that point.
Having a really specific idea in mind of who you’re talking to, being able to visualize them in the camera—which is not easy to know what you want to say, not see the person, visualize them in the camera—takes some practice to do that, to be able to stand in front of the camera, and have all those skills ready to go, have that muscle memory in place so that you can really be present and focus on getting this person excited.
Ideally, when you’re in front of a camera, you’re not thinking about where to look, you have trained yourself where to look, you’re not thinking about okay, I got to envision someone. Okay, how do I do that? That’s not a good place to record from because you’re not going to have the best energy. You’re going to be thinking about all these tactical things when you should be thinking about I want to share this with you. I want to get this person excited. Those are the in-the-moment sort of intentions we want to bring.
Ideally, when you’re in front of a camera, you’re not thinking about where to look.
How do you train somebody on getting these skills and making it part of their muscle memory, making it an unconscious competence and not unconscious incompetence?
That’s the thing. People have been doing it a little while now and we’ve seen a lot of bad habits solidify. Those are almost harder to break. If you think about it, as an actor, I learned the importance of getting your body prepared. Even though maybe you’re just doing a headshot, it doesn’t matter. Your body supports everything that you’re doing, everything you’re saying, and it’s really important to not be completely relaxed but lose that negative tension.
There’s always some amount of tension that we want to bring. If you get rid of all tension, you’re just like an empty bag. You don’t want to get rid of everything, but you want to get rid of the negative tension that may keep you bringing those shoulders up, make you feel really tense, then that starts affecting your mind, and it’s just a bad place to be in.
Getting rid of that physicalizing, doing some warm-ups, making sure you’re releasing that energy. If you were backstage or before shooting with a bunch of actors, and they were waiting to go on and do their scene, they’re likely not just sitting there very quietly. They’re shaking things out, they’re keeping that energy moving and loose so that it doesn’t start to shut down your system. That’s what happens if we’re a little bit nervous, we start to get very stiff and then become very self-conscious of what we’re doing. We want to eliminate that. That physical release is very important.
Then getting to your best energy state. A lot of times—and maybe you’ve seen this, Stephan—people start off the video, it’s not too engaging, and they’re low key finding their way. Then about 30 seconds in a minute, they really hit their stride, and it’s too late. I’ve heard you talk about that. You’ve got to be at that high-energy place before you turn that camera on. You do not have the luxury of taking time to build to that. You’re basically warming up on your audience at that point.
Give me an example of an exercise that you do to warm up and get into a peak energy state.
You’re just like an empty bag if you get rid of all tension.
I have a really quick seven-minute warm-up. Everybody has seven minutes. First of all, going through and kind of releasing that tension in your body so finding those areas that may be tense, a lot of people carry tension in their shoulders and just doing a quick full body check, bring your shoulders up to your ears, holding really tight for 10 seconds and then releasing. Didn’t that feel good?
Just going through with your fists, then your stomach, your legs, your feet, and pinching your face up, and releasing all that, stretching, whatever you need to do to get loose. Then some breathing exercises help, taking some deep breaths, and then doing some energy builders. Whatever you can do, run in place, jumping jacks, just getting that energy up physically so that you can bring it through the camera.
Then we have to work on our vocals. I remember being in sales, I would get up and call a customer before I’d even said a word to anyone. My first words would be hey, how are you? That’s not in peak performance shape. We want to warm up those vocal cords so that everything is just flowing. It’s like you’re at your peak performance level during the day. That’s how you really want to show up.
One exercise I do that I find really life-enhancing as well as just getting into a peak state for a performance or really anything—client or prospect meeting—is the toroidal field exercise. I learned this from Tina Zion who mentors me and we work on things like medical intuition and stuff, pretty woowoo. It’s an amazing exercise. I think I went through it with her in the interview I did on my other podcast, Get Yourself Optimized. I’ll just share this briefly because it’s so fast and so powerful.
I think that energy will actually come through for our listener who isn’t watching this video, as well as for folks who are watching the video, of course. I think they’ll see the energy shift. Let’s try it for a second. It’s really simple. You have four different energies that you’re bringing in from the ground, from the bottoms of your feet, drawing up from the earth, and then it’s filling up your body and spilling over, exploding out the crown chakra at the top of your head like a fountain and also your fingertips.
Warm-up those vocal cords so that everything is just flowing.
You may only have to do this a few times. You could have all four energies come through at the same time or you could visualize one at a time. The four energies are rainbow light, angelic golden light, diamond-like sparkles, and the violet flame. Okay, let’s try it.
Wow. Okay, I like all of them.
Just with each breath in through the nose, you’re going to drop that energy and it’s going to fill up and spill out through your crown chakra and everything. Okay, here we go.
Drawing that through the ground?
Through the ground. All right, I’m kind of buzzing. I don’t know about you.
Yeah. That breathwork is definitely helpful in creating that energy, but that’s a great visual because you are engaging the whole body. I like the flow of that, just envisioning that, and physicalizing the energy coming through your body and releasing it. That’s great. I actually feel good.
You said earlier, everybody’s got seven minutes. If you forgot to warm up and you have 10 seconds before the camera turns on, you have 3 or 4 seconds to do a few deep breaths like that. It’s important to visualize that energy being drawn up from the earth into and through your body so that it’s not just a breathing exercise. It’s actually a very powerful energetic exercise.
I love that. I’m going to play with that. Energy is so important on video and I think we don’t talk about that enough. The idea is we want to just be ourselves. I want to be myself. I would just want to be natural. I hear that all the time. I don’t want to be acting. I want to be myself and that’s great. I don’t want you to be so much you’re not. Even when you’re acting you’re using parts of yourself to bring to this role.
Energy is so important on video, and we don’t talk about that enough.
What happens is when people say they want to be natural, they get into this very comfortable state. Their energy goes down. Then there’s the danger of we’re at home and we’re sitting in our comfortable chairs. That kind of energy just does not read well on camera. It looks like you’re not interested. Yes, you’re very natural, but you actually have to bring more energy to the camera. You probably heard the expression, I don’t know if you believe this, but the camera adds 10 pounds?
Yeah, and it also flattens your energy. It’s an emotional medium. You’re going from three dimensions to two and you need to up your energy to match that lower level.
A lot of people don’t believe that or don’t know that, so they think because these cameras are right in front of them that they can just be very low energy. You can still be very yourself, but we want to see you in a heightened state, not you that’s like sitting back channel surfing. That’s not the energy you want to bring to the video because that will not come across to your audience.
Be your best self, not just yourself.
When you’re seated across from someone and you’re talking about something you’re really passionate about and they’re passionate about, what does that look like? What does that feel like? Getting that sense memory on your body of what that feels like when you’re really, I call it second date energy. First dates, it’s too chaotic. That’s not the energy you want to bring. The second date where you’re really excited about this person, you want to be your best, and you really want to learn about them, that’s the kind of energy you want to bring to the video.
How does someone—I hate this expression—fake it till they make it, but act as if they’re not feeling it? If they are nervous, if they are self-conscious, and they’re doubting themselves, maybe they don’t feel that natural, how do you get them to get in that best self-state when they know they’re being watched and judged?How does someone—I hate this expression—fake it till they make it, but act as if they’re not feeling it? If they are nervous, if they are self-conscious, and they’re doubting themselves, maybe they don’t feel that natural, how do you… Click To Tweet
I think part of it is mental, part of his physical, and part of it is just preparation. First of all, understand that no one is going to judge us harsher than we do (likely). Most people are just hyper-critical of themselves on video and they are critical of things that don’t necessarily matter to your audience like oh gosh, why does my eyebrow do that funny thing? They fixate on these small details that isn’t what the video is about. The customer is having a much different impression.
It’s kind of understanding that we don’t have to be perfect. That’s a goal that is unattainable and it’s not always desirable. It’s hard to connect with people that are perfect so we bring our humanness to the table.
Also learning to be comfortable with that camera—I was taking people through an exercise even if they’ve been working with their camera for a while—where you start off just really talking to your camera. Just turn your camera on for a couple of minutes a day and just have a conversation with it. I would say you have to make friends with your camera because right now people have a very stressful relationship with their camera. It’s like oh my gosh, I have to turn my camera on.
When you’re talking about this, it reminds me of the movie Amélie and she brings this little garden gnome to all these destinations and takes photos of it. Make friends with your camera. Take it on outings. Tuck it in bed at night.
You have to make friends with your camera.
Right, because what happens is we only practice these things when we get on an important call or we’re recording something. That’s not when you need to practice. You need to practice leading up to this and just get comfortable, just like hey, camera. This feels really stupid, but let me tell you about my day. Then the next day you do a little more.
The camera is the lens through which your customer sees you, so you need it to be on your side. You need it to be your friend, your champion, not your enemy. The camera is a lie detector. It will pick up whatever’s going on with you. If you’re nervous, if you’re anxious, if you’re uncomfortable, your customer won’t necessarily know exactly what’s going on, they might, it might be that visible, but then there’s something off. Something will be incongruent, your body will not lie, your face will not lie.
That’s when I hear people say things on video like this is going to save you a million dollars. I’m looking at their faces and well is that good news or bad news? If I didn’t know, from the words, I would have a hard time telling from your body. To find that congruency to create that natural ability to just be present, you have to practice these things off-camera. Getting comfortable with that camera really that first start.
Are you looking at the camera? Or you’re looking past the camera?
Looking at the camera. Is that advice you heard? To look past the camera?
Well, I heard that when you’re on a TV appearance, you don’t want to look directly at the camera, that people who are in the audience get weirded out and people watching you on TV. You can look beyond the camera just don’t look directly into the camera. That fourth wall?
Right. It’s breaking the fourth wall. You’re right, TV is a very different animal. Depending on what they’re going for, if there are other people on sets and you as an actor, if you look at the camera, they’re like cut, you just ruin the scene, thank you. That’s a technique and you see that in a lot of shows—House of Cards, The Office—where they’ll actually turn and look at the camera and speak directly to it. That is breaking the fourth wall with the camera or the stage being the fourth wall. It’s very compelling. The reason they don’t want you to do it is because it is so powerful and that just shows you the power of making direct eye contact through the camera.
If you are speaking to an audience as a marketer, and you’re doing a recording, you definitely want to look at the camera because those are the eyes of your audience. TV, depending on what their goals are that may be, you may have a little different instruction on that.
Got it. What sort of body language tips do you want to share in terms of the use of your hands and body positioning? Do you turn it at an angle and then looking back at the camera, but your body is slightly at an angle? Any body language tips you’d like to share with our listeners?
Sure. There are a couple of different ways to approach it. Certainly, if you’re seated, which is where a lot of videos take place, wherever you are, you want to make sure you’re framed well. Typically, that means you’re in the center of the frame, there’s about a fistful of space between you, the top of the frame, and your head. The goal is to make it easy for people to see your face, to see your eyes, in particular, and your expression. Frame yourself in a way that’s easy for them to see.Eye contact conveys friendliness, openness, and trustworthiness. Click To Tweet
Also being aware of the spatial differences between you and your audience. Of course, if you’re too close, especially if someone’s watching you on their screen, you have to remember people are about 12 inches away from their screen, that’s going to feel a little aggressive. Having that proper distance between you, your camera, and staying behind what I call this pane of glass because anything you put closer to the camera is going to appear very large and that takes our attention.
Anything that is distracting or unusual, that gives your customer, your audience a chance to kind of get away from your message and go wow, I wonder if her hands are that big. You don’t want them focusing on those kinds of things. Make sure you’re seated up, straight from the spine up, the head in line, then hinging forward ever so slightly, about 10%–15%. That looks like you’re very engaged, like you don’t want to be too far. But when people lean back, that does not immediately say, I’m interested in you. So it’s kind of that I’m at the edge of my seat, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. That kind of look.
Then in terms of body language, this is another thing that we need to practice. We have to be aware of our frame if we are going to gesture to try and keep things within that frame, as much as possible. The camera doesn’t like fast, quick, and big movements. That’s very distracting. So you want to keep your movements very slow and purposeful.
Think about ways that you can support what you’re saying with your hands. We’re going to talk about two things today. I’m going to hold up two fingers. We’re going to take your business from here. Go over to the far left side of my screen, over to the far right. Those are the kinds of things that you can support with your body.
The camera doesn’t like fast, quick, and big movements.
A lot of times people say, well, I don’t use my hands on video, because I don’t know what to do with them. I talk a lot with my hands in person. What happens when we try not to use our hands is, for people that talk with their hands a lot, it often dampens their energy. So this advice to not use your hands is really damaging to I think a lot of people’s performance, because that helps them speak.
We want to rein it in a little bit. We want to fine tune those movements, find places to support with gestures, but not completely take those hands away because that’s part of how people communicate.
Right. So in the beginning when we are working together, X, Y and Z will happen. Then when we get to the end point, this is what you’d expect to receive. You’ve got to remember that your image is going to be displayed, not from left to right but from right to left. So you have to start over on the other side because people are looking at you from out there. For them, your right is their left.
Exactly. I try not to be that specific. I have to think about it too much.
That’s where you’re getting to that unconscious competence. After conscious competence, there’s a next level of unconscious competence that’s just in your body, in your muscle memory. You’re just doing that every time you’re on stage or in front of a camera. Flip into your edge mode.
Yeah, those are the things you don’t want to have to be focused on. That is not where your attention should be. Absolutely. Then of course, when people are standing, that’s a whole different body language or opportunity for body language. Certainly, when people are standing, you typically have more energy, because energy does tend to sink a little bit when we sit down. However, I find when people are standing, they have the urge to walk towards the camera. Have you ever felt that way, Stephan?When people say they want to be natural, they get into this very comfortable state. Their energy goes down. Click To Tweet
You do a lot, but a lot of people don’t because they’ll be thinking you want to connect with a person. You see this also when people see you, they lean towards the camera. They get excited, which is great. The problem is if you start to walk, you really have nowhere to go because the space between you and the camera is usually pretty tight or you will be out of frame or take up too much of the frame very quickly. Then you have to walk backwards two steps.
A lot of times you see this little shuffle. If you’re going to stand you also have to really practice standing evenly on both feet, because most people don’t. Even when I was teaching live presentation skills, it was very difficult for people to stand there and not shift from foot to foot, because it’s not something we do a lot. I would say, practice when you’re standing in line at Starbucks, practice standing really still, weight evenly balanced on both feet until that just doesn’t feel so unnatural. Because otherwise what happens is, those movements are really magnified in the camera, and it can become a focal point for your audience. We get mesmerized by these patterns that people fall into.
One thing I learned from media training many years ago—I think it was probably 20 years ago, right before my first TV appearance—was if you’re wearing a suit—this is probably most important if you’re on TV and you’re in a studio—you don’t want to have that suit look not crumpled but just not centered on your body. You sit on the suit tails. That helps bring the suit a little bit back on your shoulders, and it doesn’t look like it’s not fitting properly. It just looks really good on camera.
That’s something that I learned 20-some years ago. I’m curious to hear what sort of other tips related to appearance, especially if it’s a high-stakes video situation. You might share and maybe even just generally, tips on what to wear for those kinds of video opportunities.
Absolutely. I have a whole chapter in the book on what to wear, what to do, hair, makeup, because again, it’s not something we are taught. It’s funny, you say that 20 years ago, that sitting on the tail of your suit. Some of the tricks I learned are from way back, like clothespins are used a lot on commercials because the audience is only seeing a certain part of your clothes. If it’s ill fitting, they can put a little clothespin in the back so it fits well and it looks nice and clean.
Those are great. You just have to remember that they’re there so you don’t walk around with it for the rest of the day. So those are good little fixes. Or any kind of clip, but you have to be aware if you’re going to turn sideways and you’ve got something clipped back there that people will see that.
In terms of clothes, what’s interesting is most people using video from the shoulder up is what’s called medium close up. What becomes of great importance is the neckline, because you could have the most beautiful outfit on. It could be thousands of dollars, but if the neckline is just a t-shirt, that’s the impression you get across. It comes across as very casual. So it’s all about the neckline on video.
The thing is that necklines create a certain impression and collared necklines obviously convey a more professional conservative impression than a t-shirt neckline. Also knowing what neckline works best on you. Some people if they’re very broad-shouldered, a very tight, neckline makes them look even broader. Oftentimes, a jewel neckline, which is just a little lower than that high t-shirt neckline, but not super low, is flattering for a lot of people.
You want to avoid stripes or tiny little patterns that do funny things.
Thinking in terms of necklines, colors, and textures because we just have very little to read. I was always taught as an actor that anything that you wear or anything behind you is in fact there to support you, like it’s the supporting background. It’s not supposed to be the main show like I don’t want to just see your shirt. I don’t want you to have such a loud shirt on that’s all I’m looking at. It should be something that brings your eyes out. Maybe it can contrast with your background so there’s a nice differentiation, which gives some depth to our visual. Those are the kinds of things that you want to look for.
It’s hard to have to go through your wardrobe and find, I pull out those things, try, and take an hour and just pull out all the things that you think might look good on camera. Get in front of the camera, take a screenshot, because a lot of things appear differently. Colors do funny things. Stripes–you want to stay away from stripes, or tiny little patterns that do funny things.
Right, because depending on the size of the viewers’ window, they might see a weird effect, like a moire pattern. It’s just because you’re a striped or a checkered shirt or something. That particular size created that weird effect.
Exactly. Yeah, that’s right, because you don’t know what people are viewing your video on. Trying to be as conservative in what you wear in terms of wild patterns and things that if you question whether something might be distracting, it probably is or could be on someone’s screen.
And don’t wear green when you’re using a green screen.
Or green with a green screen. That’s right. Certain colors like reds are typically hard to get on video, just certain shades of red, they do funny things. Black takes away a lot of contrast unless it’s very well-fitted. Otherwise, if you have something on black and it’s fairly loose, it just looks like a bag.
It doesn’t look flattering.
Yeah, so be careful. Really bright whites can be tough white underneath, a jacket or something or sweater can be easier sometimes than just all white.Be your best self, not just yourself. Click To Tweet
What about lighting? I presume that you’re a fan of using good lighting.
I am. There’s a reason why TV crews and movie sets have a bunch of people on the payroll to do lighting because it’s very tricky. There are a lot of variables, like time of day, because we’re not working on most of us in a closed set. We’re working in our office. We’ve got different times a day. We’ve got different lighting coming in. So we have to be prepared for different situations and having some flexible lighting, having a good set of lights that you can move around.
Starting with a ring light for most people, it can be at least a great first start. Then adding some backlight or some key lights in front of you, depending on what your situation is. They’re not hugely expensive, but they make such a big difference, especially if you’re sending videos to customers.
The point is, you want them to be able to see you. You want them to be able to see your face, to feel like they’re sitting right across from you having a conversation. If you’re shaded in any way or it’s too difficult to make out your expression or it’s just weird lighting, you’re not going to create that feeling. So it is very important.
I’ve got some lighting I use here. One of the lights is where I’m pointing and it’s bouncing off of the wall and makes for a kind of softer effect rather than pointing directly at me because then I have to have another light that counteracts the shadows that are created. This is a small home office so I don’t really have a lot of space to have multiple lights set up. I do have them. I just don’t have them all set up.
We’re working with what we have for the most part, ideally. Lighting technicians love that three point light system which is like you said. You’ve got two lights sort of countering each other to the side. One’s sort of in front of you and then a backlight so more like four lights. But that’s difficult to pull off in a small office and may not be necessary.
The best thing is natural light.
The best thing is natural light. Natural light is what lighting artists are trying to attain. That’s the best possible light. It’s inconsistent and not always in the right spot at the right time. You can use some of your natural light, just making sure you’re in front of that natural light source, and making sure it’s not behind you, which is a big mistake I see a lot of people doing. You’ve got this bright light behind you. You’re sure you’ve talked to people, and you can’t quite make out their face, and it really defeats the purpose.
Do you do much video outdoors or is it mostly indoors?
Mostly indoors because I live in Colorado, so the weather’s always variable. That’s a concern, but just in terms of setting up the lighting, that can be challenging. You have a lot more control in an indoor environment certainly.
One thing I find distracting is when people use ring lights and they wear glasses, and I can see the ring through their reflection in their lenses.
Yes, that’s an unfortunate side effect a lot of times. Sometimes that can be fixed with a larger ring light, so that the ring isn’t right in their glasses. Typically with ring lights, that’s tough. Glasses are a challenge, even with regular lighting, so you have to play with it to do the tilt. Tilt them to try not to get the glare. Tilt the lights. Yeah, it’s tricky. If you don’t need them, it’s great if you don’t have to use them during the video, but I know that’s not always the case for everybody.
If someone is shooting outdoors, it pretty much requires having a lapel mic or a boom mic with a windscreen on it so that you’re not catching a lot of the wind while you’re talking. Do you have recommendations around microphones both for indoors and outdoors? I’d love to hear what your recommendations are on microphones.
There are a lot of good choices now. It just kind of depends on your budget and your needs. The BlueYeti is a great microphone. I know there are some competitors to that but I think that’s been a very consistently good microphone for a long time. I have a big office so the sound can really reverberate with the walls.
Our homes aren’t designed to be a sound studio or recording studio so we often need a screen around our microphone to dull some of that room noise. I use what’s called a Kaotica Eyeball. What I’m showing you here–It goes on top of your microphone.
Your audio doesn’t sound so great when you take that, when you show us the microphone.
Yeah, but it goes on top of your microphone, and that way it reduces some of that exterior noise and that bouncing around that happens when you’re in a larger room.
One thing I find really annoying is when somebody is using the microphone that’s built into their iPhone earbuds. If it’s a wired earbud then it scrapes against their hair or scrapes against their outfit. That makes scratchy noise throughout the whole conversation. It’s super distracting and they have no idea that they’re doing that.
That’s one of the biggest problems of videos that people have a lack of awareness about how they’re coming across to their audience on their screen. Like you said, the sounds are magnified, the visual distractions can be magnified. When we’re unaware of that, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot, we could be doing a great video, but we’re doing some things that distract our audience and are really taking away from our message and our goal of connecting with our audience.
Yeah. With a lapel mic, especially if you’re wearing that and your hair is interacting with the lapel mic, that’s going to create this scratchy noise that’s going to be super distracting and annoying. So get your hair out of the way, so it doesn’t touch the lapel mic. Do you oftentimes recommend to clients that they wear a lapel mic? Or is it usually just a podcast mic?
My podcast mic is very prominent in the frame here. If you’re watching this on video, I don’t care about that. I care about the sound quality much more. This Shure SM7B microphone is top of the line as far as podcast mics are concerned, but it’s not for everybody. So if you don’t want to have the microphone in the frame with you, then a podcast mic is probably not the right thing for you.Understand that no one is going to judge you harsher than you do. Click To Tweet
You might want to wear a lapel mic, or you might want to have a boom mic attached to a DSLR camera that’s connected to your computer through an Elgato. I forget the name of the device that allows you to take a HDMI connection and turn it into a USB or USB-C connection.
That sort of stuff is really helpful. Get that figured out maybe with a professional. Somebody gives you some setup training to get your home office video studio in top shape. I worked with a guy named Gianni who was very helpful in pointing me to the right equipment to buy, the right lighting and green screen that’s retractable that I can quickly just push down and I can get it out of the way if I want.
I’m curious if you have on your website some cheat sheet or buyer’s guide of some of your favorite equipment.
I do have a resource guide. You’re welcome to reach out to me.
Also, if somebody wants to work with you, get coaching from you or training, take your courses, how do they get in touch? Also, how do they follow you and learn from you on social media and all that?
You can get in touch with me at [email protected]. I have tons of videos and blog posts on all of these issues—how to look at the camera, how to use your body, how to be expressive, and get over your nerves at juliehansen.live. Those are great places to start. Connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m always posting videos and tips on there as well. I’d love to hear what your challenges are.
If you do have a challenge, I encourage you to look through the book. Just look at the table of contents on Amazon, Look Me in the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers, because you’ll see it’s very detailed. If you have a question about video—we talked about where do you look, what do you wear, how do you stand, how to use your body, all kinds of things—it’s probably in there because I tried to answer questions of thousands of sales and marketers over the past year in that book.
Well, thank you so much, Julie, and thank you listener, viewer as well. Get out there, make it a great day and share your light with the world.
Yeah, make friends with your camera.
Okay, awesome. That’s great advice, too. This is Stephan Spencer, your host, signing off.
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Your Checklist of Actions to Take
Take an on-camera training. These skills classes will help me make some adaptations to communicate effectively through the camera.
Visualize in my mind who I’m talking to when I’m in front of the camera. I need to practice and build muscle memory so that I can be present and focus on getting my audience excited.
Prepare my body before I start recording a video. My body supports everything that I’m doing and saying. So it’s important not to be completely relaxed but to lose that negative tension in my body.
Get to my best energy state. Energy is important in front of the camera. I’ve got to be at a high-energy place before turning on the camera. I do not have the luxury of taking the time to build to that. I’m basically warming up on my audience at that point.
Work on my vocals. I have to warm up my vocal cords before I go in front of the camera so that everything is just flowing.
I don’t have to be perfect. That’s an unattainable goal, and it’s not always desirable. It’s hard to connect with people that are perfect, so I have to bring my humanness to the table.
Be comfortable with my camera. Just turn my camera on for a couple of minutes a day and have a conversation with it. Make my camera my friend.
Make sure I’m framed well in front of the camera. The goal is to make it easy for people to see my face, eyes, and expression.
Be aware of my body language. The camera doesn’t like fast, quick, and big movements because it’s very distracting. I have to keep my movements slow and purposeful.
Be prepared for different situations and have some flexible lighting. I need to have a good set of lights that I can reposition.
Visit Julie Hansen’s website to access her videos and blog posts on how to act on camera and use video to build deeper relationships, sell solutions, and enhance reputation. Also, check out and read her book, Look Me in the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers.
About Julie Hansen
Julie Hansen is a virtual selling expert and author of the Amazon bestseller, Look Me In The Eye: Using Video To Build Relationships with Customers, Partners and Teams. A former actor, Julie brings a unique blend of on-camera and sales experience to her Selling On Video Workshops and Training programs.
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