Success

How to Make your Video More Interesting



Mike ThreeSixty: Are You Doing It Consistently?



Mike ThreeSixty: Body Language is the Key to Video Success



Mike ThreeSixty Stands in Your Shoes!



What’s Your Plan B?

Recently I’ve been reading about getting a Plan B in other blogs, and I even created a video for a client about the importance of a Plan B. I had no idea I would come up against this very problem myself.

In fact, days after the completion of the “Plan B” video in question, I was contacted by a Houston advertising firm to create a web commercial-slash-intro video for a new website for a national skin care company.

After I bid the job and it was awarded to me, I quickly began the process of casting and scripting and getting ready for my video shoot. Sometimes I’m asked to work within a strict budget, and this project was one of those times. The client wanted me to find four “regular, everyday female” models between the ages of 35 and 40 and make them look radiantly beautiful…without a heavily made-up look.

So the first step was finding a make-up artist who could tackle this kind of work. I knew after I completed this task, everything else would basically fall into place. I had worked with a woman recently on an interview-style shoot who was quite good, so I contacted her and was relieved to hear she was available and fit my budget.

After having booked the make-up artist, I began the casting process and found four lovely, everyday looking women with radiant smiles and beautiful skin (see photo above). I booked the studio where I would be filming and scheduled for all the talent to be there in a week. (Did I mention this was a rush job?)

Since the models were not professionals, and I did not need to go through a modeling agency, the negotiation of fees was a challenge.

After I had crossed all my t’s and dotted my i’s, I felt I was more than prepared for the big day.

On the day of the shoot, I arrived extra early to the studio and set up my backdrop and lighting. The shoot was scheduled for 10:00 A.M., and it was already 9:30. That’s when the executives from the agency arrived. (Why did they have to arrive so early!?  In fact, why did they have to be there at all?  Just to make me more nervous?)

Shortly after that, the first model arrived. She looked wonderful, but I knew that I had to get her into make-up right away…. Hello? …The make-up artist was nowhere in sight. I started calling her to see if she was lost or was running late. No answer. All of a sudden, the second model showed up!  Everyone’s timing was like clock-work, because I had staggered the models so that I could shoot them one at a time, and so that they could get in make-up one by one.

But still no make-up artist. Now I was beginning to panic. What if she didn’t show up? I didn’t have another one lined up!  Oh, no!  That was the Plan B I had been hearing about so much recently. And I didn’t have one!

After about an hour I realized the make-up artist was just not going to show up. I had to send all the models home and ask them to come back in the afternoon. That gave me a little time to find another make-up artist. Luckily, the models were all very accommodating, and I ultimately only had to pay them for the extra hour.

Once I found a back-up make-up artist (alleluia), the rest of the day went very smoothly. But I knew that I had been lucky. I was only out the one hour in fees to the models, and I produced a top notch video. Unfortunately I cannot show it here, because it is still in the client’s hands, and they have not launched the website yet. You can bet that when they do, I will post it for you…and for me to always remember to get a Plan B!

Here’s the Plan B video I created with Karen McCullough:



Ten Things I Learned From the 30-Day Blog Challenge

On July 18, one month ago, I committed to the “30-day Blog Challenge” with my friends and colleagues, and members of my new Mastermind Group, Crystal Washington, Bambi McCullough, Danielle Forget, Cecilia Rose and Karen McCullough.  Since then, and it has been exactly 30 days, I have actually learned a few things.  That’s what I find so incredible.  In just one short month, this one challenge has taught me remarkable things.

1.  That I can commit to something rather difficult and fulfill my commitment!  I am proud to say that I have logged in 30 entries in 30 days.

2.  That I enjoy writing.  I’ve always known this.  In college, I minored in English Writing.  Creative Writing was one of my favorite courses at Boston University, followed by Script Writing, and then followed by Journalism.  So why have I not been writing all these years?  Instead of wondering why, I am happy I rediscovered it. The main fact is that I had to push through the difficult part to get to the enjoyable part.

3.  The first part was difficult.  As was the middle part and the end part.  But after each entry, I felt an amazing little feeling of accomplishment….and that little feeling lasts a long time.  It really helps to get me through the day.  No matter what happens each day, I can look back and think, “Well, at least I wrote in my Blog today!”

4.  The process of blogging with a group of people, and then Tweeting about each other’s blog posts, creates miracles in the Social Network.  Since I started blogging, results.

5.  The act of blogging has gotten me into online networking.  Every morning, after I blog, I spend a good hour on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin…saying hello to new friends and followers, spreading news and reading news.  This has really kept me connected to the world and to my colleagues, peers and friends.  In the process of doing all this, I have been strengthening my personal brand.

6.  Blogging means Learning.  In order to blog every morning, I need to do a little research.  That never hurts anybody!

7.  I have gotten to know my blogging buddies even better.  What a pleasure it has been to read Crystal Washington’s blog every day.  She is truly a miracle in my life today, and I am so grateful to have met her.  Of course, I am always interested in what Karen McCullough has to say…we are basically connected at the hip.  And I have enjoyed getting to know Bambi, Danielle and Cecilia in a different way, as well.  They each contribute to my day, each and every day.  That is such a blessing.

8.  I have connected with people I never dreamed of “meeting”.  Just by writing a post about Apple and how the Apple brand can help each of us as we form our own brands, I had the chance to “connect” with Steve Chazin.  And when I blogged about Klout, I got to “meet” Brian Ambrozy.  This was great, but on Twitter some of my Social Media and Professional Speaking idols started to follow me:  Connie Podesta, Mari Smith, Ed Primeau, Trey Pennington, Gina Schreck, Loretta LaRoche…just to name a few.

9.  I have been inspired many times.  Great ideas have come to me from blogging every morning.  Creativity just flows now.

10.  I am excited to keep on keeping’ on.  Blogging has rejuvenated my entrepreneurial spirit.  And that is worth gold.

Are You Getting the Micro-Message?

Are you sending out secret personal brand signals?  Yes, you are, and you are doing this without even knowing it!  I was just reading David Hoskin’s blog and began to think (obsess?) about my own brand signals.  Which ones am I sending out?

By now, most of us are aware of the value of personal branding and how our personal brand can enhance or devalue our professional brand.  But are we really aware of all the micro signals we are sending out everyday?  This is a sobering thought, but something many of us need to take to heart, especially in this era of self-promotion.  With the internet, we are each capable of pushing out content on a daily basis, and this content will undoubtedly help to form our personal (and thus professional?) brand.

Back to the micro signals.  Here’s a hypothetical scenario. We’re in a busy office, lot’s of interaction, many daily status meetings of various different departments that all interact.  Phones are always beeping, assistants are constantly tromping here and there with bundles of paperwork to be signed, and people are standing in office doorways chit-chatting as they conduct their business.  Then lunch comes around and many employees pair up or join small groups.  Some floors have lunch-and-learn workshops where pizza is served.  Some V.P.executives have business lunches with colleagues and new clients.  There’s a lot of interaction.

In any given moment, you have the opportunity to make an impression on many people, and visa-verse.  Somebody is standing in your office door just minutes before you are to meet another colleague for lunch, and they are completely unaware of this as they talk to you about their “busy” day.  They go on and on about the many little tasks that need to be completed, all the while thinking you will commiserate with them.  Instead, in your head, you are making a judgement.  “I wish they would shut-up so I could get out of here!”  That is a strong brand message.

You finally get to leave the situation and meet up with your lunch dates down the hall.  The first thing you say to them is something like “Wow, that so-and-so just wouldn’t stop talking!  He’s a nut!”  Moments after these words leave your mouth, your co-workers are making judgements about you.

As you make your way to the lunch event, you notice that one of your co-workers shoe is untied.  You look more closely at his clothing, and you see that his shirt is wrinkled.  Then, while you are eating, you notice he is talking with his mouth full of food.  At every point during your interaction with him, you are making snap judgements.  All of these judgements throughout the day are forming personal brands.

Now let’s move all this judging over to the social network. The same sort of personal brand building is going on there, but in a much more nuanced way.  Every Tweet you send, every photo you post, all the words you choose to use in your comments…they are forming your personal online brand.  Some of my Facebook friends are not aware of the micro messages they are sending with comments like, “Ugh! So busy today!”  or, “That business needs to learn about customer service! I just wasted an hour in the store!” or “It’s Friday!  I can’t wait to get out of here!!!!”  All of these seemingly innocent posts will eventually add up, maybe in a negative way.

On the other hand, I know a lot of online friends who are hyper-aware of the messages they send.  Some of them, send out inspirational messages every hour on the hour.  This approach can actually backfire, because they come across as being inauthentic.  It’s a fine line between being honestly you and artificially managed.

I realize that I’m probably freaking some of you out.  Don’t get discouraged, because this is what we do.  We’re human beings.  But there is a lot of power in what we do and say, especially when it collects to form a personal brand.  Harness the power of your personal brand by being aware of your micro signals.  It’s a daily practice and it actually improves with your awareness.  Start thinking about the brand messages you are getting in real life and online.  By noticing the personal brands of others, we can start to work on our own personal brand.

(For more info on Personal Branding, my colleague Karen McCullough and I are working on a four-part online series.)

 

 

What’s Your Score, Baby?

If you have a high Klout (score), people will notice you. When they notice you, they’ll talk about you. When they talk about you, people walk in. Therefore, seeking out ways to genuinely increase your Klout …score is a valid social media strategy.  Brian Ambrozy

I just started using Klout about two months ago, and while I’m not sure how strong my score is or how effective my internet presence is, I know that Klout has helped me with one thing. More on that one thing later. (By the way, at this moment, my score is 50.) Oh, and the other thing about Klout is that it is the word Clout spelled with a ‘K’, so you know it’s clever.

Klout is an online services that takes your Facebook and Twitter (and now LinkedIn) accounts and measures the strength and size of your reach.  They do this by calculating 35 different variables and distill the data to come up with three measurements: True Reach, Amplification Probability and Network Influence.

I’m not a social media genius, so I have no idea what those mean, but I am guessing a few things. True Reach, I would venture to say, means how many people you actually interact with…not just how many followers or fans you have.  I’m hearing a lot about social media gaming, or manipulating the networks to work to your advantage without actually doing the real networking. There are so many companies (not individuals) that have joined the scene, and many of them have several different accounts…and some even sell these accounts to people who want to “get 10,000 followers”. Well, from what I understand, Klout manages to see which of these followers are actually real followers who actively engage with you. (I’m starting to feel like we’re in the movie Minority Report.)

Amplification Probability also sounds fairly self-explanatory. I’m guessing it is a measurement of how many times your message gets reposted or retweeted. How likely is your message or conversation to be spread around? This is also a way to separate the internet robots from the real people.

And Network Influence? I am going to take a stab at this and say it has to do with how influential your actual friends or followers are. Do you have followers who have other real followers and who engage regularly, or are your followers simple “voyeurs”, as YouTube likes to call it’s non-members.

What is nice about Klout is that it gives you a fairly realistic measurement of your online engagement and presence.  The one thing I really like about Klout (and the reason I am spending any time writing about it) is that it helps me to feel as if I’m actually getting somewhere with my social networking.  If you are like me, every morning you wake up and turn on Facebook and Twitter.  You check your messages, see how many followers you have, and start doing the deal.  It feels kind of like Groundhog Day.  Until there was Klout, I always felt like I was typing and clicking in the dark. Now I am developing a strategy, of sorts.  I know that according to Klout I need to engage…so I make a valiant attempt to do that with my friends and followers.  I also actively seek new people to follow, and I try to stay in my lane.  I can even use Klout to engage with my Twitter followers because Klout lets me give people K+ awards (letting people know they influence me in a certain category or field).

If you are like me, and just starting to find your way in the social networking realm, give Klout a try.  It might really prove to be a big help.

Mining for Gold: The Vertical Challenge

This post is a revival of an older post from 2009, but I thought it might bear repeating.

Sometimes it’s good to talk about success: what works and what doesn’t.  Because I work mostly with speakers, I have a certain affinity for them, for their struggle to forge their own path in a strange landscape that has no real road map.  One of the most daunting challenges for a public speaker is to find their target sweet spot.  What audience will respond the most?  Who will continue to hire them?  Where will they find the most gold?  Only then can they truly begin to market themselves.  Until a speaker has this puzzle figured out, the road is dark and uphill.

I work with a talented man by the name of Chris Loomis, and for a few years now, I have watched as he has struggled to find his target sweet spot.  He is a large, imposing man with a booming voice and a likable and aggressive demeanor.  I have worked with him over the years, capturing his talks on video, sitting with him in seminars on branding and watching him get in front of audiences to speak on Leadership, Success and Sales.  As time goes on, and as .  As time goes on, and as the challenges become greater, a speaker can get discouraged.  But not Chris.  His determination was attractive.  Chris was always willing to try another way.

There came a moment when Chris decided to reach back to his corporate past and focus his expertise on what he gained as the Marketing Manager for DuPont’s environmental and safety services division. Little did he know that this shift would be the key to his finding his target. The amazing part of this story is that it unfolded so quickly. Chris changed his speaking topic to Safety Education, put up a video on YouTube and on his website, and before he could take a breath, had Exxon Mobil knocking on his door. The Oil and Gas giant has hired Chris to speak to it’s teams all over the globe on Safety. Not only once or twice, but as an ongoing project to last three years.

My own part in this success story was on encouraging Chris to keep recording his presentations on video and getting them up on the web. The right key words and tags got the search engines to find Chris and bring him back to the audiences that really needed to hear his talk. Check out the video.



Your Video Editor is Your Coach

If you are just starting out in the speaking business, if you’ve been doing it for decades, or if you are an executive who needs to speak in front of an audience, I have a technique for improvement that is as good as any from a professional coach.  Use video to record and evaluate your style, technique and content.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be included in a Mastermind group.  It was my first meeting with the folks whom I admire and respect (Karen McCullough, Bambi McCullough and Crystal Washington), and I was soaking up the discussion and information like a sponge.  When the conversation got around to me, we began to discuss the success I’ve had with certain speakers who have used my video services over the years.  By working closely with their videographer, these speakers actually improved by leaps and bounds over a very short period of time.

See, the trick is that they had someone videotape almost every presentation they gave, and after each presentation they sat down together, with their video guy (me), and went through the footage frame-by-frame.  I’m sure the technique would have had value even if the speaker didn’t use a videographer but recorded the presentation themselves.  However, reviewing the footage with another party is where the lightbulbs started to go off.  In my experience, when working with speakers this way, we have found gold by mining unexamined content…things like:  great jokes where the punch line was hidden, ideal places for pauses so that audiences could process important points, the identification of unnecessary gestures that detract from the message, annoying tics and blunders, voice modulation and variation, etc.

By going through the material piece-by-piece, sometimes the speaker will even see major thematic errors that, when corrected, make their entire presentation come together and make sense as if it were given for the first time. There was one speaker I worked with who had a wonderful, stream-of-consciousness style that was unique and enjoyable to the ears. Yet, when we watched the footage together, we realized that there were no pauses that made  sense within the material. This realization might have never been made were it not for a video editor’s eye.

See, as the video editor, I was also looking for places where I could ), and I was soaking up the discussion and information like a sponge.  When the conversation got around to me, we began to discuss the success I’ve had with certain speakers who have used my video services over the years.  By working closely with their videographer, these speakers actually improved by leaps and bounds over a very short period of time.

See, the trick is that they had someone videotape almost every presentation they gave, and after each presentation they sat down together, with their video guy (me), and went through the footage frame-by-frame.  I’m sure the technique would have had value even if the speaker didn’t use a videographer but recorded the presentation themselves.  However, reviewing the footage with another party is where the lightbulbs started to go off.  In my experience, when working with speakers this way, we have found gold by mining unexamined content…things like:  great jokes where the punch line was hidden, ideal places for pauses so that audiences could process important points, the identification of unnecessary gestures that detract from the message, annoying tics and blunders, voice modulation and variation, etc.

By going through the material piece-by-piece, sometimes the speaker will even see major thematic errors that, when corrected, make their entire presentation come together and make sense as if it were given for the first time. There was one speaker I worked with who had a wonderful, stream-of-consciousness style that was unique and enjoyable to the ears. Yet, when we watched the footage together, we realized that there were no pauses that made  sense within the material. This realization might have never been made were it not for a video editor’s eye.

See, as the video editor, I was also looking for places where I could cut (a cut was needed to splice, as we used to say back in my film school days) the footage into two separate clips. Sometimes we need to cut the material into smaller clips for video snippets that stand alone, for either the speaker’s demo video or for short clips to go on their website. But when watching the footage together, my client and I couldn’t find any good places to cut the material. This may have never crossed the speaker’s mind before had they not sat down with their editor, simply because audiences were always responding positively to their material. However, because the speaker was open to suggestions (by their editor), suddenly their material was kicked up two notches in effectiveness and quality.

I remember another time when I worked with a  speaker who was asked to speak on a topic that wasn’t in his repertoire.  The material was new to him, so he wasn’t as polished as he would like to have been.  He had me film him, nonetheless.  When the presentation was over, he was ecstatic, on cloud nine.  So much of his presentation was improvised, yet he was getting huge laughs from the audience.  None of those laugh points would have been remembered were the entire presentation not recorded for posterity.  The next day, he and I sat down and carefully extracted all the “jokes” from the material…the things that he said off-the-cuff that had elicited such big laughs.  From that point forward, that particular topic, which had never been in his roster of topics, became one of his most requested programs.  A major factor in this success was that we were able to mine the comedy gold from his “stand-up” bits and integrate them into his new speech.

Think of how video can help you with your next presentation, even if you have to speak in front of your team at the office.  The review of your footage can help with other areas you might not even think of, such as:  eye contact, your energy level, your facial expressions (are you smiling enough?), how many times you say a particular word as a way to catch your thoughts (um, like, etc.).  All it takes is a video camera, a video editor and an openness to suggestions.