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Why Our Shortcomings are Invisible to Us, but Glaring to Others

As I go about coaching entrepreneurs to look and sound on video and live presentations like the go-to experts in their niches, I constantly get the same reaction when pointing out their shortcomings:

“I can’t believe I didn’t see that!”

That’s because we’re creatures of habit, and not of self-analysis.

It’s all about years of living out our comfortable patterns, based on our long-held assumptions and daily reinforcement of our habits of thinking and behaving.

In fact, we are where we are today in life and business because of the accumulated assumptions we’ve accepted about ourselves…and the behavior habits we’ve adopted to cope with challenges to those assumptions.

We’re too close to those comfy patterns to see how odd they seem to others.

BEING CLUELESS

Short example here…over the years in directing audio talent for professional productions, I’ve learned that some people are clueless about how they sound to others.

A life insurance company hired me to produce a video series for their employees on changing relationships with customers from “Adult-Child” to two adults communicating.

The actor hired to deliver the key lines, however, kept saying “adolt” (like a dummy) and could not in any way hear that his pronunciation was wrong…no matter how much I coached him to alter the sound.

The same kind of blinders appears with people who want to influence others, but sound dull and lifeless in their vocalizations.

They read a script aloud, or share their elevator pitch for a podcast, feeling the enthusiasm and energy – unaware that most of that intention stays in their heads and never makes it to their vocal chords and body language muscles.

When the recording is played back, they’re amazed at how dull and lifeless it sounds, as though the recording equipment somehow leaked out all the captured enthusiasm!

“But I felt so much energy and emphasized all the important stuff! Where did it all go?”

It’s a form of psychological disconnect that tends to make many folks blind to how they look and sound to others.

I help them fix the problem by ramping up their energy beyond what they’re normally comfortable with, so they start to calibrate to a feeling of a certain amount of “exaggeration” that produces the compelling result they want to deliver.

BLIND TO THEIR OWN DISTRACTIONS

Another form of this disconnect: most online entrepreneurs I talk with are amazed to discover their videos and live presentations are infected with as many as two dozen or more off-putting distractions from their important marketing message.

No wonder they’re getting such frustrating lack of sales and clients!

Not until I point out each distraction, and why it chases away their ideal clients, do they awaken to the reality of their uneducated mistakes.

For example, they discover that when they don’t start presentations on time, waiting on stragglers and late-comers, the on-time participants take that as disrespect for their busy schedules. Nobody likes to be dissed.

They learn that when their low camera position is shooting up their noses and showing a lot of ceiling, viewers are uncomfortable and find the experience unpleasant…not the life-changing coach they were looking for!

They also learn that the cluttered background of their home offices (with all of their favorite memorabilia and posters from life) is distracting enough to make viewers lose the thread of the speaker’s message and drop out (disconnect) before the speaker could share a solution to their problems.

They’ve been blindly performing in ways that distract and disconnect, chasing away who knows how many potentially ideal clients, simply because they couldn’t see themselves through the eyes of others.

As Albert Einstein would say (paraphrased a tad), “We can’t get to a higher level of performance with the thinking and behavior that got us where we are now.”

SELF-SABOTAGE

What has to change to allow such a mindset and performance leap is one or more of our long-held, comfortable assumptions.

But the human psyche tenaciously holds onto those assumptions in its effort to protect us from trauma, to keep us thinking and feeling we’re in our safe zone.

So our subconscious literally fights any change, any challenge to old ways, any discomfort at all.

That human commonality is exactly why, for the vast majority of people, “self-improvement” is an oxymoron. We can’t get there with the thinking and habits that got us here.

So we really can’t make the mindset leap alone, because we don’t have the tools of that higher mindset to make sense out of letting go of our precious assumptions and coping behaviors.

It’s still less painful to fall back into the comfort zone than to risk failing at something that scares us.

We don’t, in fact, have in our experience a clear awareness of different and better ways to think and behave. No matter how much information we gather, the decision-making process is still emotional, not logical, and our assumptions anchor our emotions.

Until the pain of continuing old ways is noticeably less than the pain of trying new and scary things, the human subconscious will continue to pull us back to its safe haven.

Until the embarrassment of our limiting assumptions is greater than our fears of looking foolish and stupid, we’re trapped in the easier route of protecting the old ways.

Until we begin to see our limiting behaviors through the eyes of those who have moved on up before us, we don’t have the awareness of tools and options to free ourselves from the grip of our own self-fulfilling prophecies of failure.

KEY TO OPEN THE PRISON DOOR

The key to unlock the pathways of change – to convince us to allow ourselves to try something new — is firmly in the hands of those individuals who understand the transformative coaching and mentoring process needed to help people expand their comfort zones and self-confidence.

I’m not talking about the pretend coaches who drop 1:1 mentoring quickly for the 1:many money-making systems, who share information and rah-rah motivational experiences but don’t know a thing about changing assumptions.

No, I’m talking about passionate individuals who are committed to the real mentoring process over time that guides us step by step through a greater awareness of choices, like Socrates did.

The coach who knows that building self-confidence is far more important that the constant blah-blah-blah of a talking face with the curse of knowledge on a subject.

The patient guide – facilitator of the change experience – who knows that with each win comes a boost in our expectation for good, and one more limitation set aside in our progress toward the freedom to be who we really are.

Find yourself such a mentor, and such a path, so you can become fully aware of what amazing potential you have within you, just waiting to be set free.

Even the Biggest Gurus are Cursed by Video Voodoos

Could you be scaring people away with your videos?

You’ve probably seen many presentations online where the presenters (even famous and wealthy coaches) do distracting things that  are “turn-offs” that make us want to go find something more professional. They’re turning YOU off like you could be turning off the people who need you the most.

I’m talking about unthinking practices such as…

  • Delaying the start of a webinar while carrying on a Chatty-Kathy or Talkative-Ken party fest with shout-outs to the speaker’s faithful online roadies…
  • Placing the camera too low and shooting up the presenter’s nose with lots of ceiling in the background…or
  • Cutting to a second camera angle of the speaker, yet he/she is still looking at the first camera…and so on.

I coined the name “Video Voodoos” to describe all such non-professional and distracting behavior – because these unthinking habits can quickly curse your presentations and chase away your ideal prospects.  In fact, I have a short video class that highlights about two dozen of the most common voodoos out there (a story for another time).

Let me briefly explain why each of the three Voodoos above is such a no-no – and  what you can do instead to look and sound like the professional your prospects are seeking.

VOODOO #1:  SHOUT-OUTS TO YOUR TRIBE

You’re busy with lots of other things to do, but still you think maybe THIS event will be the one time you get a quick and easy solution to your whatever problem or challenge you’re experiencing.

You register to attend, get the reminder messages, and login right at the official start time.

Then you hear something like this:

“Okay, it’s about time to start…oh, hey, Jill, how have you been? Haven’t seen you since the mastermind last spring!  And Mary Beth, hey girl, thanks for joining us…Bob, missed your party, sorry…(etc. etc. etc.)”

First, shout-outs are a waste of other viewers’ time.  We need a quick fix for our urgent pains, and not party time.

Second, such social “cliquery” doesn’t make anyone feel either welcome or connected to the presenter as the pro who supposedly has a plan to fix my problem.

It’s a red flag right from the start that always makes me wonder how useful the rest of the presentation could possibly be.

The time for such connection with your peeps (if at all) is in the minutes before you start your presentation. Say you’ll take two minutes to acknowledge some folks who are successfully applying the skills and knowledge from your programs – without being overly personal. Frankly, you don’t want to give the impression that you’ve gotten all of your friends to be in the event to make you look good, nor do you want newcomers to feel like outsiders in your “insider circle.”

If you’re going to make personal acknowledgements at all, speak to the strangers in a welcoming way also, so everyone will feel appreciated and glad to be there.

Then when the second hand hits the advertised start time, it’s all solution time from there onward.

VOODOO #2:  SLOPPY CAMERA POSITION

You don’t need my four decades as producer/director of film and video to recognize and fix the one common mistake with the biggest ripple effect in cursing your presentations.

I’m talking about unthinking, funky camera position.

You’ve seen the same goofy results of putting the camera too low and shooting upward:

  1. Viewers get to look straight up the speaker’s nostrils, two gaping holes that from now on are all you can think of, and
  2. Bonus:  spectacular view of a not so spectacular ceiling.

So you have a couple of choices:

A – Just turn on the camera and make sure you’re in the shot. Trouble is, this lackadaisical approach is distracting and doesn’t bode well for being seen as prepared and capable of solving your ideal customer’s key needs.

Or…

B – Take the time to learn basic video camera setup:

  • Always put your camera on a tripod at eye level so viewers see your face as though talking with you in person. It’s also much easier to avoid reflections in your glasses from the lights than shooting upward from below.
  • Stay back from the lens to a “medium” shot like you see of TV announcers, from waist up, or sternum up at the very closest.
  • Tilt the camera up/down until your eyes are about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the picture. If your hairdo or hat disappear off the top of the frame, you’re too close.

These little but critical adjustments remove distractions and let people concentrate on your face and your message.

VOODOO #3:  TO WHOM IS THE SPEAKER SPEAKING?

You’re watching the speaker looking you in the eye (i.e., at the camera lens).  Then the picture cuts to the same person talking, only the angle is off to the side, and the speaker is still looking at and talking to the original camera position.

Who is he/she talking to now?  Not you, because there’s no more eye contact.

Becoming aware of the production process snaps us out of being immersed in the message and makes you think about the strange shot.

This ill-chosen technique is what’s called in the film and video industry “director’s conceit” – something the director thinks is really cool but doesn’t fit naturally in the situation, thus snapping viewers’ attention away from the story or message.

The hardest challenge in videos and on-camera presentations is to keep people emotionally involved with your core message so they’ll click for a solution.

ANYTHING that distracts from that tunnel-vision involvement with your message is a voodoo that will curse your results.