Thursday, May 31, 2012

How can I encourage camera-shy experts to break out of their shells? 4 tactics

You're a communicator wielding a camera, wanting to get your expert to practice. She's doing an elaborate version of "talk to the hand," perhaps by saying she needs to leave the training early to go to an essential meeting (uh-huh) or using delay tactics like asking lots of questions about less important matters. That sudden fascination with meetings and minutia likely means just one thing: Camera-shy.

"How can I encourage camera-shy experts to break out of their shells?" was the question of one registrant in my June 19 workshop for communicators on how to 'Be an Expert on Working with Experts.'  Here are three of the tactics we'll be discussing related to using cameras to prep your experts for media interviews, speeches or public presentations:
  1. Cameras are the great equalizer: Nobody likes them. More precisely, no one likes how they look or sound on camera, from the best broadcasters to the never-been-seen newbie. Make sure your expert knows that the discomfort is normal, and something they have in common with people they admire.
  2. Why are you using a camera, anyway? Please explain. I don't use cameras in practice to help my trainees create picture-perfect broadcast-quality productions. I use them for two reasons trainees can appreciate more readily: To help them see themselves in action--something they can't get any other way--and to help catch things we can correct and improve upon. Establish the goals and don't assume your expert knows why the camera is there.
  3. Don't confuse shy with introverted, and vice versa. Susan Cain, author of the recent book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, offers some clues in Are you shy, introverted, both or neither? The skinny: "Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments." You'll do better if you warn an introverted expert ahead of time to expect camera practice in a safe environment, and in some cases, if you train her alone. For the shy trainee, use tactics like letting them be the first person to give feedback on their own video--they'll be much more honest and negative than you ever could be, which lets you come back in and correct misimpressions.
  4. Help them embrace the playback. I've seen trainees watch their videos while wincing, covering their eyes with their hands, or sliding down under the table. To allay their discomfort, make the process constructive, rather than destructive, by giving them guidance on what to look for and how to learn from it. I give all my trainees Instead of wincing, 10 things to look for on that video of your speech, and walk through it with them.
We'll be dishing tips like these and more at the workshop--and there are still seats available. Go here to register, find out what other kinds of questions and challenges the participants want to discuss, and learn about the great network of communicators who are already participating. Registration goes through Sunday, June 10, or until the seats are filled.  UPDATE: You can register for the newest session, October 8, 2013, right here.

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