With everyone going remotely and video becoming the new normal. Presenting yourself in front of the camera is even more important now. If you’re going to give a speech or enter an online conference, learn how to present yourself. Feel your energy because that is everything! Join your hosts Sam Reeve & Char Miller as they talk to Julie Ann Dokowicz on how to show up as your best self in special events. Julie is the founder and Creative Director of Girl in Heels Travels. She is also an on-camera host and coach who helps entrepreneurs amplify their brands and businesses through video. Learn how to reduce nervousness, meditate, prep, and more. Understand that first impressions matter the most. Start by being confident today!
I want to welcome everyone to the show. We’re a mastermind of leaders dedicated to creating those workplaces where people thrive, employers feel that they can reward and our customers love. Overall, I call it the three-legged stool concept where we’re finding the best business to run. It’s basically going to be a combination of your employees, customers and those owners of that business. We have to work in harmony to find out the best solutions. We’re talking about leadership and how leaders can better show their best selves, and Julie is going to take us through that. Let me go through a few housekeeping items first.
First of all, our typical host that we have here is myself. I am a compensation specialist. I help companies find workplaces or build those workplaces where they can attract the best talent, reward, retain and motivate them. That’s pretty much my job. We have Char Miller, who is not with us in this episode. She’s closing on a house and is excited about that. She is the owner of Rocky Mountain Health Advocates. She’s also a Coach for CompTeam. She helps us out with executive coaching and helping HR professionals find their career paths for themselves. We also have Sumit. Unfortunately, he’s been sick. He’s in India. India is going through a tough time. He’s on the mend and hopefully, we’ll see him soon.
A little bit about Julie here. She is an On Camera Coach and also a speaker. She’s been in front and behind the screens in production. She’s got many years of film experience and worked with a lot of great companies as she’s appeared on Netflix, Telemundo and Oxygen. She’s a Producer and very talented. We’ve had her here out on the show for quite some time and helping us with bringing up our game, making things much more interesting and she’s been a great coach for all of us. I’m glad to have her on the team. Julie, we’re going to talk about showing our best selves or improving that on-screen presence for leaders. Tell us a little bit about how you got into this business and why you found this is something that we all need.
I know some of you are already familiar with me. I can definitely see the coaching is paying off because I love the intro. I’m really happy to be here. I normally host and do the introduction. Sam took over my job. We’re switching things up a little. Basically, how I got into this, I was working in film TV. I was producing and directing all kinds of projects, commercials and music videos, you name it. If it was there, the opportunity arose and it sounded good, I always said yes. In 2020, when everything shut down, including film and TV, I was out of a job and all my day jobs disappeared. Everything disappeared pretty much in the same week. I was getting cancellation emails, “This isn’t going on. We’re shutting down.”
I panicked a little but I was okay. I know a lot of my friends who work in corporate, 9:00 to 5:00 were stressed because 9:00 to 5:00 is the life is all they knew. They were always thinking that it would be steady, stable, and it would never disappear and it did. Whereas for me, I’ve always been this free-spirited gypsy, freelancing on different projects and always hustling. I was like, “It sucks but this is just another opportunity to get my grind on and hustle.” I was a little lost. I was not sure what to do because everything that I was doing was gone for the time being. I designed crazy and I joined this business mastermind of entrepreneurs. I felt so out of place because they were successful 6 or 7- figure business owners.
They were running their own online businesses. Some had brick and mortar but I felt out of place because they were business-minded and I did not fit in at all. When people were talking about, “Find your talent. Find the gift that you can give to others. Find the skill that you have, that you can teach other people,” I was always sitting in the Zoom calls like, “I don’t know what that is. I know a lot of things but I don’t feel like I could teach anyone anything.” I got in my head a little bit.
I went through the coaching process and through spending a lot of time with my coach, we uncovered that, “You could transition all the stuff you’ve learned in your many years of film and television, being in front of the camera, being behind the camera and all those experiences. You could teach people how to be more confident on camera because, as we’ve seen in 2020, everything’s shifted online.”Find your talent. Find the gift that you can give to others. And find the skill that you can teach other people. Click To Tweet
Zoom was the word of 2020. I feel like we were all on Zoom meetings, virtual conferences, virtual retreats, virtual this and that. Something clicked and I was like, “I can teach this to people how to show up more confidently, how to look better on camera, how to sound better, how to tap into their personality.” You then found me, Sam, and I’ve been hosting the People Strategy Forum. It’s all unfolded slowly.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself, as far as your passion for getting into the screen, how you became a producer and what that journey was like. Also, your particular evolution from starting out and getting in front of the screen to being the professional that you are now?
It all started way back when I was ten years old and I knew I wanted to be on camera. I kept nagging my mum and she was like, “Let’s get this child out. Let’s get us some acting, singing and dancing classes while we’re at it. Let’s get her out of my head.” It started all the way back there. It hasn’t been a very linear puff. That’s the thing with the entertainment industry. It’s not the straight trajectory like a lot of other industries. When you go to school, get your degree, maybe get an internship, start a company and work your way up the ladder.
Entertainment is more relationships, which is what I’ve learned because when I came out to LA, I was 22. I didn’t know anybody. I was starting from scratch. Basically, a lot of the things I had learned and done in Australia didn’t really count as much. Out here, it’s like starting over. It’s pretty much any opportunity that came up. I’m a yes girl. If it sounds good, I would put my hand up, go for it, meet people on set and talk to them.
The thing being in Los Angeles, it is known as very superficial and fake. A lot of people try to talk to you to see what they can get out of you. You do encounter a lot of that. If people realize that you can’t get them to where they want to go, they stop talking to you but I never let that deter me. I was like, “I’m genuine. I love people. I love to meet new people. I love new opportunities.” I kept saying yes to things and meeting people, connecting with them on set and then we’d exchange contact information.
It always happens. When something else comes up later down the road, you’re usually the first person they call. You want to always stay at the front of people’s minds. That helped me get along. As far as getting the camera, behind the scenes, at one point, I wasn’t booking a lot of work. I was like, “What if I start creating my own stuff?” I got a camera. I started shooting small projects for friends, sketch comedy and anything that I could find. It was all experimenting, to be quite honest.
I didn’t know what I was doing. It was a process. If someone asked me, “Can you shoot this for us?” Whether it was for free or pay it, I didn’t care. I wanted the experience. I did that for a little bit. It started to evolve. I started to book better work, better commercials and international work. A had a random segment on Telemundo, which is very random. I went with the flow. It would never really happen if I didn’t take the first step, dive in, be willing to mess up and not be the best at something because that’s how you learn.
If you don’t even try, you’re never going to get better. It’s the same thing in showing up on camera. You’re never going to be able to host a good Zoom meeting or speak at a virtual conference if you’re not willing to try, show up and make those mistakes. I still make mistakes all the time. I still get nervous in front of the camera sometimes. That fear never goes away. The more you do it, the better it gets. It’s like anything. Just practice, show up and it will get better with time. You will feel more confident and that’s how it goes.
It surprises me to know that when you started that entrepreneurship class, you didn’t realize that you had this talent. You have so much experience in front and behind the camera. You have a lot to teach the leaders about this and us because when we have business leaders out there, we don’t have those years of training. We need to show up on camera, on Zoom and lead the people like we’ve done before. It’s a steep learning curve. What you’re doing now is going to be very helpful for leaders across and I know it’s been very helpful for us so I want to thank you there. What are the first things that we should think about?
I love that you said that leaders don’t really know. How could you? As a leader, you don’t think, “I’m going to take an acting class or an improv class.” That’s not something you would think about because you don’t think how it correlates to one another. I recommend everyone should try an improv class at least once because improv trains you to think so fast on your feet. Improv is all about yes, and-ing. If I say, “You’re wearing a blue shirt,” instead of you shutting it down and being like, “I’m not,” you say, “Yes and it has these gold buttons.” Improv is all about learning to go with the flow.
Yes, and-ing and thinking quickly on your feet. It gets you out of your head and body because you have to pay attention to another person and what information are they giving you in order to respond. I recommend everyone should get an improv class. You don’t have to be an actor. It also helps you stop worrying about what you look like, how silly you feel. It’ll kill all that. Improv 101, find one in your area. A lot of them are online now too. You can start there. That’s always a good one.
That sounds like a great team-building event. To have you take your team out and do an improv class together. It sounds like it might be a lot of fun.
That does exist. There are actors that come out and do that for corporate groups and stuff.
The social media culture, we used to look at like this lady is holding the phone up as being a, “She’s taking a selfie. She’s posting it on social media,” but I never thought I would be having so many meetings and Zoom meetings on my phone. Sometimes I’m out and about and I find myself doing the same thing and I’m talking to people on my team and coordinating because the phone is turned into something different now. It’s not just something you put up to your ear. It’s normal now to have a video conference on your phone.The entertainment industry is not about your degree or what school you came from. It's more about relationships. Click To Tweet
No one’s bothered by it anymore. I’m in LA, I see people filming TikTok dances in the street. We live in a whole different world now. I was on a Zoom call outside. I was having lunch and I did a Zoom call in this little nice park area. If you got to show up for that meeting, you make it happen. Everything that I’m now can be applied to any type of on-camera or video. If you have to lead a team on Zoom, speak to 500 people at a virtual conference, if you are creating Instagram stories for your company or whatever it is, all these things can be applied to all of that.
This isn’t just specific to one thing. You can take it and apply it anytime you have to show up on camera. These are the five things that I wanted to cover. Feel free if you want to write it down. Before we even hop on camera, I show up cold. That’s like going to run a marathon without stretching or warming up. I always like to do a pre-camera ritual. That’s what I call it. If you want to call it preparation, routine or whatever works for you, that can include whatever you want it to include.
Whatever you need to get in the zone, get focused, get your energy up, make a list of those things and then schedule out the time before you even have to show up on camera because I always think that being on camera, you’re always serving and giving value in some type of way. You can’t serve and give fully to people if you don’t fill up your cup first. By taking this time to get that routine going, you’re going to be showing up fully, having energy and emanating a different vibe rather than if you just rolled out of bed and showed up. What can you include in a pre-camera ritual?
It could be anything from meditation and breathwork, which I love to do because I talk so fast so sometimes I have to just take time to breathe and it helps me slow down a little. Movement is great because it elevates your physical and mental state quickly. Even something as simple as coffee. Some of us need that caffeination in the morning. If you need to grab some coffee, take a walk in nature, whatever it is for you, do that because this is like doing the inner work. By having that ritual, you’re going to be showing up a whole different way.
One I like to ask for our readers out there. If you have some pre-camera rituals that you do, I’d love to know them. What I noticed is when I’m working at home, I go out on my deck, I wander and taking nature for a bit. That seems to clear things up. I was surprised that you said walking and moving around a bit before that meeting. That helps me bring things together. I started thinking in my mind about, “What do we need to go through? What are the key things in that environment?” That helps. It is much better than for me, looking at my computer and going through a list. Being in that other environment helps.
There’s nothing better than nature. Nature is the best medicine for everything. It gets you focused. You’re not distracted by technology, kids, dog or anything. Having that solitude before going on camera makes a huge difference. You can play around with it. You can try the whole rolling out of bed, being scattered and stressed, checking social media, doing the whole comparison, “I’m not as good as this person,” and then show up on camera and see how that feels. It doesn’t even have to be, if you’re short on time. When I do the People Strategy Forum each and every week, I’m in a different time zone so it’s a little earlier for me, and I’m not a morning person at all.
I do need about one good hour. Sometimes, I don’t always get that because I have to jump on here so early. As long as I get a meditation in, I feel good and I can sometimes blast music. Meditation is always my thing because I feel like it’s that time for me to breathe, do a visualization, how things are going to go and how I’m going to show up. You can let me know how it works. For me, always meditation. I love to get a workout in. If it’s like a heavy lifting session or a cardio session, movement is so important.
Think about Tony Robbins. Every time that man has any type of event, how do they start? They blast the music so loud. They are running in and high-fiving. He’s getting everyone pumped up because he knows that movement gets that nervous energy out. It gets us elevated mentally, physically, emotionally and we show up differently. It’s something simple too. We don’t think about it but just that movement.
It doesn’t have to be something as hectic as a HIIT workout. It could just be a walk around the block, a quick run or even blast your favorite playlist and have a little dance party by yourself. It sounds so silly but it does work because music is good for our soul too. If you get some of your favorite songs going, you start smiling. You want to move or jam out. It does make a huge difference.
Movement, meditation and coffee is a big thing for me. I need my coffee. My boyfriend always brings me a big mug because I feel a bit more wired when I have some. I also go into my talking points. When I have to hop on, I don’t like to just not go in a little rehearsed. I like to just go with, “These are the five things I’m going to talk about.” I go over the order a little bit. At least I’m going in a little more prepared and not stammering over, having that little bit of prepping and talking over things. Sometimes I’ll talk it out loud as well because it’s one thing to think about it in your mind but it’s another thing to speak it out loud and see how it sounds. They’re the main things that I do and it takes me about 1 or 1.5-hour. It’s a bit of prep but it’s always worth it.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that if I’m going into a big meeting, talking to a board or something like that, I want to make sure that I’m doing my best. I often find that if I’m fine talking with a trusted colleague that I feel comfortable with, I can go through the material, get some feedback and feel that uplifting energy. I know that they’re going to be supporting and so forth, go through and lift the spirits. That’s something I find that’s going to help with that piece to perform my best. One of the questions that we have from our audiences is what meditation app do you use? Do you use an app when you meditate?
I do. I love Insight Timer. It’s a free app. What I love about it is you can filter. If you want a guided meditation and the length. If you’re short on time, you can only do it for five-minute. They have a list of five minutes to under five-minute meditation. You can set the amount of time. If you want a voice, music, what kind of meditation you want to put in or you can just listen to relaxing music. I like it because I like variety and Insight Timer has a bit of everything.
I know some people use Headspace. I tried it. I didn’t love it. Insight Timer is all the way for me. Even YouTube has some great ones. The thing with that is you want to make sure that it doesn’t have a bunch of ads because there is nothing more jarring than when you’re like in your state of Zen and then an ad comes on like, “What to know what you can do for your website?”All that breathwork went to waste and you’re like, “It scared me.” That’s the one I love because there are no ads.
I’ve been using Headspace. I’ll have to try that Insight Timer as well. That sounds good.Just dive in and be willing to mess up. If you don't even try, you're never going to get better. Click To Tweet
Someone introduced it to me and I’m addicted. It tells you to check off every day that you do it so you can track your meditations as well and know whether or not you’re showing up for your meditation consistently. That’s a good one. Going back to what you were saying about how you like to get with a colleague and go over materials. Just so everyone knows, that’s what we do with the forum too. We hop in altogether before anyone is showing up before we go live and we go over it. It’s like a warmup almost.
We see how everyone is. We get that energy going. We get our guest speakers in and make them feel welcomed because maybe they’re a little scared to come to talk to two people they don’t know. Usually, they’re pretty confident but we can always get nervous. We try to welcome them, check everything is looking good. We do a little rehearsal. We make sure we have their bio correct so that when we hit live, everything is flowing and we’re ready. We are not stumbling around and trying to figure it out because that also wastes and the audience members’ time as well. No one wants the time wasted. We want to get going and get that information out too.
That’s very important. The big piece is that if you’re doing a joint presentation with different people, it’s important to understand how they’re doing during that day for them to almost check in. Everybody has their ups, downs, bad days and so forth. Sometimes it’s like, “My child has got in trouble in school.” There’s something top on their mind that’s creating a block and maybe it’s not the best day for them to speak or maybe there’s a way that we can as a group, help them overcome those emotions at that particular time to lift their spirits. That’s something that I find that’s very helpful.
A question was brought up in the notes here as far as, “How do you become less nervous before a presentation in Zoom?” There’s nothing more powerful than to help elevate confidence than proven performance. The one thing that I would say is when you do it the first time, you are never very confident at it because this is your first time. If you do it over and over again then pretty soon you’re a pro and things happen. Proven performance, doing it over and over again will give you confidence that you can do that presentation well.
The confidence, that’s not saying anyone can teach you. That comes from within and from showing up doing the work. It’s like anything. You can’t pick up a violin and expect that you’re going to play at an orchestra level. That’s just not going to happen. If you do 10 or 20 minutes a day, build up to doing it consistently little by little, you’ll get there eventually. You got to have that patience and be willing to suck. Sometimes, I’ve hopped on calls. Sometimes you’re distracted by other things. You’re like, “I have this going on. I have this deadline.” I’m just not as present as normal and you’d show up and do your best anyway and use it as a learning experience. It’s not always going to be perfect and perfect is boring. Keep showing up and that confidence will start to grow.
I believe we’re in a golden age of this as far as personal expression and so forth. It was years ago where there was so much pressure on doing this perfectly. It’s like you do your introduction and do the steps. You have to come up and show this huge amount of structure, energy and professionalism. To social media and a lot of the videos that are coming out nowadays, the more genuine, the more human and things like that are more meaningful now than they’ve ever been before. That helped a lot, especially with me and being in front of the camera as much as I am.
We like people. You could tell me the most interesting information but at the end of the day, if I don’t vibe with you, I don’t care. If you are like this awesome person. I love your energy and the vibe you’re bringing. You’re making it fun and a humanized experience. That’s what draws people in. I will be talking about this. We’ll get back to the energy thing but people want to relate to you. When we look at some influences and things like that, it’s not attainable. Some of us don’t want all the surgery. I can’t rock a crop top so I don’t relate to the influence of that inner crop top.
We want to be more relatable to people. 2020 showing us to show up. We’re all stuck at home and we’re doing the best we can. I found even too with acting auditions, they were like, “We understand. You can’t go to a self-tape studio and get the professional thing. You can’t even get professional because nothing’s filming.” If it’s something at home, that’s totally fine. There were a lot of leeways given over 2020 and I think that’s great. It makes it more real. Let’s keep it real.
Before we move on, I’d like to talk a little bit more about extroverts and introverts. We’ve had some speakers in the past who are talking about networking as an introvert and so forth. I consider myself a very big introvert. I’m a numbers guy. Doing things like this takes a lot of energy. You come off as an extrovert. How would you classify yourself?
I’m an extroverted introvert because when I’m around people, I’m so excited. I’m like a puppy that’s excited by the world but I love to be home. Because I’m spending all day giving so much of myself and so much energy, at the end of the day, I find myself depleted. I need that time to recharge my battery. I love to be alone because when you’ve given all day long, you’re like, “I need to recharge so I can go again the next day.” That’s probably how I would describe myself. A lot of people don’t realize that a lot of extroverts are like that and a lot of introverts then get a little upset that, “I wish I could be as like extroverted as that person.” With a lot of us, it takes a lot of energy and then we have to recoup. Hopefully, that sums me up.
As an introvert, one of the things that I remind myself of when I go to a speaking event whether it might be in person or on Zoom, the most helpful information I received is that when you’re giving your presentation, people want you to succeed. The audience wants to be in a good experience. That takes a lot of the pressure away. A lot of times, I think if I have that mindset because I know that everybody has a positive attitude out there and they want to be entertained, learn and do these things. They want to have a successful engagement. That helps a lot.
Something that will help all introverts out there that are like, “I don’t want to be on camera. That’s so scary.” My next two points will probably help you with that. The next point I had was reduced nerves. Obviously, I say reduce and not eliminate because a little bit of nervousness is good. It keeps you awake, on your toes and engaged in what’s going on. It’s so easy to say, “Don’t be nervous,” but that’s not effective. I don’t think telling people to imagine everyone is naked is effective either. What helps me reduce any nerves is I always go in and ask myself one question, “How do I want these people to feel at the end of my presentation?” Not, “What do I want them to learn?” That’s important.
Do I want them to feel empowered? Do I want to brighten their day? Do I want them to leave laughing? Do I want them to feel inspired to take action on that project? Whatever it is, think of that one way that you want to make them feel and that is already going to take you out of your head, away from, “I’m not good enough. I’m going to suck. This isn’t going to go well. My shirt is the wrong color.” It’s going to get you out of your head and focus on your audience because they’re the people that matter. I find that shift helps reduce nerves. Obviously, you want to think about what you’re sharing and teaching but it comes down to feel.
My third point was talking about energy. We’ve covered that a little. Energy is everything. It’s contagious. Think of the people that are happy, have a good vibe, have good energy and are fun to be around. How does that make you feel? You want to be as lively. You’re like, “I want to come to this party. This party is fun.” Have you ever gone to a CVS and the cashier is slouched over, barely speaking, hates their life and their job? How does that make you feel? You feel like, “I’m sorry. What did I do wrong?” It’s not the vibe. We want to go and think about energy.If you're distracted by technology, nature is the best medicine for everything. Click To Tweet
Going back to introverts and extroverts, when we talk energy, I’m not saying in your face, “Let’s go.” If that’s not your personality, it’s going to come off fake. We’re going to feel that. It’s going to be a cringe-fest. Don’t feel pressured that you have to be bubbly and high energy at 100. We were talking about Sam. He has a more commonly reserved personality and his energy is not super hyper but it doesn’t make us want to listen to him any less. We’re super engaged because his energy comes from a place of passion. He’s enthusiastic. He has a lot of knowledge and dying to share that with everybody each and every week. That is what draws us in. That’s where your energy comes from.
If you think, “I want to share this. I want them to feel inspired. I want them to take action. I want them to thrive in the workplace,” whatever it is, that’s what’s going to fuel your energy and cut emanate out of you. When I say energy, it’s not like the big Tony Robbins event. It can be chill but if you’re showing up with enthusiasm and passion, that’s going to shine through.
It’s interesting that you say that. Thinking about how you want them to feel at the end of the presentation. I’m a detailed guy. It’s like, “We got to cover this.” That has been told to me by Colleen Stanley. She was our sales speaker before about focusing more on the feeling of how you want them to leave the room after the discussion. I’m like, “The comp plan is we need to cover these things. We need to tell them about X, Y and Z and go through these details.” She’s like, “No. We need to make sure that after this, they have a basic understanding. They go out of the room, engaged and motivated. They can always come back and ask questions or we can refer materials.” You don’t need to go through every single step by step. I’m glad that you say that.
It’s good to have a structure. You don’t want to go and being like, “I’m just going to wing it.” If you can, if you’re at that point in your life and career where you can shoot off for 30 minutes, I’m jealous. That’s awesome. It’s absolutely great to have that structure because you want them to walk away with value as well. You don’t want them to be like, “I didn’t learn anything. I don’t know what happened there.” She was fun.
Having a good combination of both but real feeling. Why do you go to the movies? Why do you listen to certain songs? They make you feel a type of way. Some songs and movies make us cry because we can relate to that person dying. Like a love story, we want to feel. We’re humans. We are designed to feel. We’re not robots. Humanizing the whole experience as well for people will really help. I’m talking about the educating and energy factor. The three things that people want most when they show up to a Zoom call, conference or presentation is they want to be educated.
They want to leave inspired and entertained. If you can master doing all three then you’re good to go. If you’re educating, great. That’s cool. That’s awesome. If you inspire, it’s even better because people are going to feel on top of the world. They can achieve whatever it is you’re talking about. If you throw in the entertainment factor, they’re going to have fun with it. If you think of any insurance commercial-like Geico, State Farm, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “I’ve seen the commercials.” What are they? They’re educational but entertaining. They’re fun. Why? Because insurance is so boring to talk about.
These advertisers have to get together like, “How do we make it fun? Let’s create a talking Geico. Let’s have flow in all these situations. Let’s make her a quirky character.” That’s what we remember. When we go to think of insurance, we have those associations. If it was a boring commercial, no one’s going to remember that. We remember those things because maybe the Geico made us laugh and Flo did something funny. That entertainment factor people want. If you can combine those three things, education, inspiring and entertainment, your presentations are going to go from, “Yeah,” to amazing.
I’ve been thinking about that because my biggest worry, especially in my job as compensation is that if I bring in the cartoon or make it funny here and there, I’m afraid that people are going to think, “He’s not serious.” I don’t think that’s something to worry about anymore. That’s a good point. You definitely want to educate and entertain in a way that people are going to remember.
A lot of us are visual learners, especially men. If you can make things more visual, colorful sound, songs, it helps people retain information better. Going back to when I was in the third grade and I was learning my multiplication tables, my teacher had songs. I still remember some of it. It was like a whole song and we would do a little dance to it. I still remember parts of it. That was like years ago. It shows you how things get into our bodies. By doing things like adding in some music, visuals, characters to it or whatever it is, it gets into a body on a deeper level. It’s not a surface level.
Let’s talk about looking your best. I know that we have a lot to say there. When you say, “Look your best,” what do you mean?
I mean two things. Obviously, look your best in the superficial sense that you want to show up looking you’re your best because you can roll out of bed. I’ve seen people on Zoom calls roll out of bed with a messy bun, with a bag of Cheetos and they’re just eating the Cheetos. When I see people like that, I always think, “Would I want to work with people like that?” If that’s how they show up to a Zoom call, we do want to keep that element of professionalism. If that’s how they do that thing, it’s probably how they’re going to do everything in life. I would recommend you don’t have to be slapping on eyelashes, hair extensions, makeup and wearing a tux.
It’s nothing like that but you do want to show up in something that makes you feel good because psychologically, if you wear something that makes you feel empowered and confident, that’s a little psychological trick that’s going to help emanate that energy that we were just talking about. If it’s a shirt that you love to wear, a cologne you love to spray or a perfume, that always helps. I like to spray a bit of perfume before I come up. I don’t know why but it does something for me.
I love having my power turtleneck. It’s a black turtleneck that sometimes I wear on the forum. When I wear that, I don’t know what it does. It changes my personality. It’s like an alter ego. I’m more confident. I’m sure you all have something in your closet that makes you feel that way. It makes you show up more confidently. Make sure that you are looking professional, shave, brush your hair and look your very best.
That’s super important because I don’t know how many times nowadays I get on a Zoom call and it can be with an executive, CEO, CFO and they’re lounging back and their ball cap. Some of that is cool. I do a lot of technology companies and I get it. It’s comfort but the thing is that, “What does it communicate?” When we meet with people, let’s just think about that first date that you have. You want to make sure you look your best, you look good because you care about the outcome of that engagement. That’s the same thing. When you dress up or you dress professionally, it shows that you care about the people that you’re talking to. It’s important to keep that mindset. It’s not just comfort but it’s also showing that you care.Your energy is everything. Click To Tweet
If it’s someone that you know well and you’ve known the person a long time, that’s one thing. That level of comfort, you can kind of get away with it. If I’m showing up to speak to 500 people, I keep going back to that 500 people at a veteran conference, then I want to make sure that I’m making the best first impression. I don’t want to come off as sloppy because that’s not how I work. That’s not how my business operates. Everything is very professional, pretty structured and fun. There’s definitely a fine line. If the people that you’ve never spoken to are meeting you for the first time, why not take that extra effort to make the best first impression? There are so many of us doing very similar things out there.
There’s competition. I don’t think we compete with anyone but there’s a lot of people that do the same thing. How are you going to differentiate yourself from those other people? If you’re showing up your very best, people are going to be more drawn to you. It’s how it is. That’s how humans are designed. We’re more drawn to people. When you see someone in the street and they’re rocking a cool outfit, we turn around versus if you’re just in sweats and flip flops with the socks, it’s less, you’re not going to turn around.
It’s something that’s so easy to do. You can have a business on the top potty and bottom. I always do. No one has to know. Just showing up on that little screen, can go a long way. The other side of looking at best is not just physical appearance but it’s also just how you show up on the screen. That’s important as well. We’ll talk a little bit about framing. I don’t know why I’m still seeing it on Zoom calls sometimes. People are close to the camera, like fully close.
You’re just like, “What is going on?” Think of it in a real-life situation. Would you be that close to somebody, especially now? Definitely not. In general, do you want to be up in people’s faces? That’s how it feels like when you’re so close to the camera. Back it up a little. The best type of framing is the bottom of the screen is just about chest level and then we leave a little about 1 to 2 inches of room above our heads. You want about even space on either side. That’s going to be a good framing. It feels comfortable. No one’s freaking out that you’re too close. You’re also not too far back where we can’t see your facial expressions and also struggle to hear you as well.
By having that framing in mind is going to help. Another thing that is going to take your on-camera game up to the next level is good lighting because so many times someone is sitting in front of a window and that’s never good. What you want to do is face the window. If you have a big window in your house, sit in front of that window. Let the natural light hit. That’s what I’m using because I have a big sliding door. I love when the sun hits because if you sit in front of the window, it’s going to create shadows on your face.
We can’t see you properly. It actually can make you look older because you start to get all the different shadows. We want to look as best as we can. Sit in front of that light. If you don’t have good natural light in your office, your house or wherever you are, you can just get a box light from Amazon. They’re like $30 to $50. Set that up in front of your computer or a phone or a ring light is a good alternative as well.
What about those other things? I’m using this virtual background. Zoom has the ability to do face tune-ups and these different things. What do you think about those elements?
The background is important because no one wants to see your pile of laundry in the background because that goes back to that looking your best. We want to be putting our best foot forward. The background is important. The main thing with a background is it doesn’t matter if it’s virtual, a backdrop if it’s your home office or a plain wall. You want it to not be a distraction. What I like to do is I hop on before every Zoom call or before I get on camera. I take a look inside my little box and I see what is behind me. I check, “Is this water bottle sitting there? Is that going to be in the way? Is that poster distracting? Are there too many books on my bookshelf?” I like to keep it pretty plain. I’m boring. I like to keep it pretty simple. It doesn’t have to be anything too crazy.
You want to make sure that there are no distractions because you want people paying attention to what you’re saying and what you’re delivering versus, “What books does he read? What’s on his shelf? What’s that in the back?” You want to keep it distraction-free so they can focus on you more. A virtual background is fine, a plain color wall. For some of the better colors, blue is a nice color. It works for every skin tone. It makes people pop. Things like gray can work. If you’re a little lighter skin like me, it can tend to wash you out a little bit. If you have darker skin, gray is good too but blue is the color that works for everybody.
The angle at which your camera is that is important too because we want to do our best to flatter ourselves and look at our best. A lot of times, if you have the framing that we were talking about, you should do it. Ensuring that your camera is level with your eyes so when you are looking at that camera, it looks like I’m talking right at you. I’ll use my phone as an example. They have it down here. If your phone is down here and you’re talking, we’re seeing up your nose, everything gets wider and it creates extra chins that you don’t have, it’s not the most flattering angle. If you can have your camera at eye level, that’s going to be great. If you are on your phone, I always say go a little above, a little higher than eye level because what that does is the camera creates a more slimming appearance. It hides any chins, slims your face and it’s a flattering angle. Angles are very important as well.
The last point is conversational.
We’ve covered it throughout but no one wants to be sitting there and listening to a rigid, monotonous presentation with no energy. I’m reading off of a slide which you could have done on your own. No one wants that. No one’s going to be engaged with that. They’re going to shut off real quick. Remember to keep it conversational, humanizing the whole experience and acting like you’re talking to your best friend. It’s relaxed. It’s not, “This is what we are going to learn.” It’s not rigid and stiff. Think about when you get to talk with family members, friends, it’s casual. It’s a conversation with some educational factors some entertainment factors throwing but at the end of the day, people are going to relate more. They’re going to listen better if it is kept conversational.
That’s one thing that I find super important and we can learn from other cultures. For instance, an American style is more about facts, especially with those sales presentations that you hear a lot. It is like, “Our platform is the best. We have X, Y and Z.” In countries like Japan, it’s more relationship. It’s not just about the product. It’s about the people behind the scenes. By being more conversational, telling stories, sharing stories, learnings and showing your human side, that’s a much better way to connect and to have your products and services shine.
I 100% agree with the stories because we all have them. I don’t care if you’re like, “I didn’t have anything interesting to say.” Yes, you do. Everyone has a story. There are so many things you’ve gone through your life. There are many different things that you’ve encountered, different workplaces you’ve been at, different bosses, you’ve probably had that. You could probably share a lot of stories on good and bad. We are all human. We’ve all gone through things. People definitely relate to stories. It makes the presentation more interesting.
With stories, we get to know you as a person so we can figure out, “Do I want to come back for that next session that they’re going to have? Do I want to follow them on Instagram? Is that content something I even want to see?” Having those stories in your back pocket helps. I do a whole thing on stories. That’s a whole separate conversation. If you go and write down everything in your life that stands out to you, that’s helped you transition into something that stands out to you, that helped you make a transformation, they’re all stories you can pull from. We love that because we’re all nosy at the end of the day. We all want to know about people’s lives and how they got to where they’re at. The more you can share that, the more people will be engaged with you.
It helps to find your personal brand. Everybody should have their own story or their narrative that they talk about themselves and how they’ve come to be and why they have the passions that they have. That’s super important. I want also want to call out our sponsor. It’s always important to not forget about our sponsors that bring us here. The TMA Method is a great way for you to get to know your people whether it may be a new hire or a person on your team, to help them coach and develop their passions and see where they best fit.
If you would like to sign up for a free TMA assessment to see how that works, it’s basically a questionnaire that goes out to you and you complete that. It will tell you about your work style and the preferences and what drives you as an individual, as a manager, a recruiter or a leader. You can use that information as part of a dialogue with that person to get to know them better to understand how they tick and what they want out of their work life. As we come to a close here, I want to thank you, everyone, for joining us in this conversation. Thank you, Julie, for your passion and for sharing your knowledge with us.
Thank you for having me. It was fun to change things up. We’ll be back to your regular programming next episode. I’ll be back to hosting.
Take care. Bye.
My career started in the entertainment industry as a film/tv actress and on camera host. In between film projects, I worked as a freelance event marketing assistant and spokesmodel with brands such as Chevrolet, American Express, Youtube and traveled around the USA, Australia and UK for various events and conferences.
Later on, I founded Girl in Heels Travels, a luxury lifestyle site and I was given multiple opportunities to travel and create content for various brands and businesses in countries Like Cuba and Panama. This site has now expanded and partners with various brands in the wellness, travel, luxury and beauty industries.
Currently, I am enjoying working as a Creative Director, On Camera Host and Coach and helping entrepreneurs amplify their brands and businesses through video.