Be Yourself Plus 10%
If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, or doing a video show, or speaking at a conference, you’re essentially going to be putting on a show for people.
There’s this weird thing that happens when you’re being recorded. You feel like you’re being totally normal, but when you watch or listen back to the recording, you sound positively dull. You even look bored.
“That’s weird,” you think. “I don’t remember being bored. I was actually having a great time!”
We feel like we’re being more animated than we are. When you’re sitting on your couch watching Netflix, you want to be entertained. When people are watching your video show or listening to your speech, they’re also wanting to be entertained. The problem is:
How you feel like you’re acting does not translate on stage.
Go Over the Top
What feels like going way over the top is actually only going to register as mildly entertaining. To compensate, you actually have to overact. If you think you’re naturally entertaining and engaging, you want to be yourself plus 10%. Then it will actually come across at the same level.
The real trouble comes in where you’re naturally dull. If you’re like me, your default state is introversion. You’re quiet, you’re monotone, and you naturally sound dull and uninterested. It’s not that you’re a dull person, it’s that you don’t find it in your personality type to be naturally animated.
I’m going to give it to you straight: this is a major disadvantage. I’d tell you it’s ok to be yourself and you’ll do just fine on video, but while that might make you feel better, it’s simply not true. I can say this because I’m naturally very dull.
Compensate for Introversion
How I speak on video and on my podcasts actually takes a tremendous amount of work for me. I probably come off mildly entertaining, if not even somewhat dull, compared to many other people. Imagine if I wasn’ttrying!
Take it from me, because I’ve had to practice this very thing: if you’re an introvert or you’re naturally reserved, be yourself plus 100%.
That’s what it takes to register as even mildly entertaining or at least not so mind-numbingly dull that people will immediately stop paying attention to you.
It’s just like with actors and actresses. The people who look like they’re not wearing makeup are wearing makeup. The people who look like they’re wearing makeup are wearing tons of makeup. They’re all wearing it!
You have to be yourself plus 10% for your energy to translate.
It’s going to feel in the beginning like you’re being disingenuous but you’re not. You’re simply respecting the translation of the medium. That’s like saying smiling in a picture or color correcting a photo is being disingenuous. It’s not. You’re compensating for the fact that energy is lost in the translation and you have to compensate in order to recreate the experience for the viewer.
Over the Top = Mildly Entertaining
If you want someone to perceive you on video as not being bored, you have to actually feel excited. If you want to be perceived as excited, you have to be extremely excited. If you want to register as though you’re extremely excited, you need to be positively manic!
It’s going to feel strange at first. You’ll feel abnormal. You have to think of it as a show. You’re literally acting. You’re acting to recreate a feeling for someone. It takes time and practice but eventually it will feel as natural as it looks.
The way in which I used to speak on recordings five years ago is downright comical to me. I couldn’t do it even if I tried. You’d seriously think I was exaggerating.
Attention is the Game
If you’re naturally very expressive, you have an edge here. But I’m living proof that you don’t have to be genetically or sociologically gifted to expressiveness.
Introverts, you can make excuses, but whether you like it or not, attention is the game.
Whether you like it or not, attention is the currency of this age.
If you want it, you have to work at it.
Think of it like a game of photo copy telephone. You want to send a message to your co-worker who is 20 people removed from you. You get to put anything you want on a piece of paper, but the rule of the game is that your neighbor will run your page through the copy machine and hand the copy to the guy next to him. This guy makes a new copy and passes on the page. The process repeats 20 times and your co-worker on the other end of the building receives the final sheet with much degraded quality.
If you want any message to successfully make it through to him, you need to draw it very heavily with bold lines so that it can survive the translation. It’s the same with you and your personality.
Hey, I think you’re awesome, but the default you is not enough. Be yourself plus ten — or even one hundred — percent.