Last September I began recording a video for every blog post I published. I decided to do this because I thought doing so would be a good way to expand the community here. I’m not sure how many of you found me and the community here through my Youtube videos, but making these vlogs has been worth it nonetheless because of all the other things I’ve learned.
I’m not sure you’ll have the same experiences I’ve had, but regardless I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned from recording videos. I hope to give you some perspective on things you could conceivably learn if you decide to become a vlogger as well.
It’s Ok To Suck And Be Embarrassed
Unless you have prior speaking experience, or significant natural talent your first several vlogs are going to suck. It’s difficult to make something of quality when you have no experience talking into a camera, and you don’t know how to edit your videos yet either. That’s ok though. It’s just the way things are. Everyone has to go through the suckiness.
I remember being embarrassed of my self-improvement videos the first few months after I began recording them. Whenever we were given laptops in class I would be paranoid because I was afraid someone would search my name on google, discover my videos, and get the rest of the class to laugh at me after seeing them. I experienced anxiety every time someone was on Youtube and every time I heard someone open a video because I thought I was about to be “discovered”.
Fortunately I was only “discovered” a few times this past year at school. Every time people found my videos they were cool about it as well. Most people thought my early videos were a little over their head and that I was a poor to mediocre speaker. I’m not sure any of the people that found my videos became regular viewers, but nobody insulted me or my videos, and most people thought vlogging was a cool hobby as well.
If you experience fear around creating videos because you’re afraid of what others think you’re probably making things bigger in your head than they really are. We all think that everyone else is watching us, but in reality most people don’t care because they’re too concerned about what others think of them.
The important thing is that you don’t let any fear you experience paralyze you. It’s better to be taking action and feeling embarrassed than doing nothing at all. As your speaking skills improve and you become more comfortable with yourself you’ll also likely find that you’re not so afraid of others “discovering” you either.
Your Public Speaking Skills Will Improve (Though Not Linearly)
I believe I’m a much better writer than speaker at this point, but even having said that I’m amazed at how far my speaking skills have come. If you look at my first video and my most recent video the difference is tremendous.
My ability to articulate my thoughts, and speak improvisationally have come a long way. In the past I had to game plan exactly what I was going to say even if it was just a 1 or 2 minute video. Now, however, I can have a general idea of what I want to talk about and often give a decent 4-10 minute speech on my first attempt.
I’ve improved in using hand gestures as well. If you look at my first couple videos my arms may have seemed as if they were glued to my body. After giving 100 speeches, I’m still not perfect, but now I tend to incorporate many more hand gestures into my videos.
Most of all my vocal tonality has improved. I can still be a bit monotone at times, but things have improved significantly over the past year. I’m able to project my voice better and I’ve also diminished my tendency to end sentences with an upward inflection.
However, what’s important to realize is that much of my improvement was the result of me consciously evaluating how I could improve as a speaker and using deliberate practice to pursue that improvement.
You will become a better speaker even without evaluation or coaching if you make the commitment to consistently give speeches. However, you can greatly accelerate the process by identifying individual skills you need to improve and focusing on them.
If you notice that your videos lack emotion you can record a few speeches with a deliberate intention to improve your expressiveness. If you notice you never use hand gestures you can record a couple videos where you focus specifically on the skill of incorporating your hands into your presentation.
By doing this your videos may seem a tad uncalibrated to the viewer, but you’ll ultimately be developing the skills that spur your improvement as a speaker. Realize that improvement is rarely linear and sometimes you need to take a step back to take two steps forward.
Consistency Is King
I’ve found this to be true with both writing, and recording videos. The more often you write and record the easier it is to do so. It’s easy to record a video when you’ve got momentum and have recorded a video every day for the last two weeks.
However, it’s a lot more difficult to record when you haven’t recorded in two weeks. For that reason I recommend establishing some kind of regular production ritual. In the school year I like to dedicate Saturday and Sunday mornings to writing and recording. In the summer I try to write and record everyday (though I’ve admittedly struggled a bit this summer).
Writing and/or recording everyday is ideal, but if you’re not at a point where you can throw that much time towards creating I’d recommend establishing a habit of producing something at least once a week.
You’ll find that the more frequently you’re producing the better the whole process flows. You’re able to come up with ideas more easily and you’re better at executing on those ideas as well.
With that being said it’s important to remember…
The Resistance Never Goes Away
I’ve written about 250 blog posts in the past 1.5 years and recorded 100 videos this past year and I’m still subject to “The Resistance.” People think that at some point a writing or recording habit is going to effortlessly come together for them. They’re wrong.
I still struggle with putting things off all the time, and as long as you’re an artist you will as well. You’ll always find excuses to rationalize why writing that blog post or recording that video can be put on hold. It’s easy to give into them. Often you’ll be tired from a long day and your brain will try to convince you that you can put off producing your work until tomorrow.
How do I know? Because I’ve been in that situation countless times before. I’m in it again right now as I near the conclusion of this post and begin preparing to record tonight’s video.
I just want to shut the computer and go to sleep. I can’t though because I know how important finishing my work is. If I don’t finish this blog post there’s nothing stopping me from skipping the next one. If I don’t record tonight’s video there’s nothing preventing me from skipping the next video.
If you commit to blogging, vlogging, or any other creative pursuit I think you too will understand at some point that you’ve got to ignore the voices in your head telling you to stop. If you ever want to do something that truly matters you’ve got to continue pushing forward when others would’ve already quit.
That’s how you stand out and I think that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from recording day-in and day-out. A fulfilling life never reaches a point where things are easy. You can stop challenging yourself, but doing so kills your engagement and passion for life.
Life is supposed to be hard. The best thing you can do for yourself is put yourself in a position where you’re subjected to difficult challenges. Overcoming them will be excruciatingly painful, but in the end living life on your terms, living a life you can be proud of, and living a life without regrets is well worth it.