5 Ways to Cope as an Introvert in a Video World
For us introverts, it can be difficult to put yourself out there, especially as appearing on video becomes increasingly necessary and common. Here are some ways to deal with it.
I am an introvert at heart. People often don't believe me when I tell them this because I seem so obviously extroverted. After all, I've had several management and leadership positions in large advertising agencies and have done countless interviews, presentations and keynotes over the years. And now, I'm out there promoting my own brands, MASAMI (clean premium haircare) and Isle de Nature (bee-powered luxury home fragrance). But the truth is I'm an introvert who has become a learned extrovert.
It's taken me many years to get comfortable in my own skin, to overcome my fear of public speaking and be okay with looking at myself on video (I still don't like it, but I do it). Being an introvert isn't inferior to being an extrovert — it's just different. Extroverts replenish their energy in social settings while introverts find social interactions drain them of energy. A Myers Brigg test can help you better understand what makes you tick and where you fall on the scale of the 16 distinctive personality types, including introversion and extroversion.
Some of the greatest leaders are introverts, including Elon Musk, Marissa Mayer, Warren Buffet, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt. But if you're an introverted entrepreneur like me, it can be challenging. Being an entrepreneur means that you need to tell your founder story — which is a key part of your brand story. Customers want to know who is behind the brand, what his or her values are, what he or she cares about and, ideally, how accessible the person is. Figuring out how to do this on video and in interviews without giving yourself massive anxiety is a win.
Here are a few tips that I've learned over the past year that will hopefully help you too get more comfortable on video.
1. Find less intimidating channels to "ease" your way into video and bigger platforms
This could be blogs and articles or podcasts (I did over 75 in the past year!). I found it's easier not having the extra pressure of needing to look good on video — I could just focus on the story. I also enjoy the one-on-one conversations of the interview format; to me, it's like having a conversation with a friend. So, find formats that suit your personality and style.
2. Know your material inside and out
If you're going to do a video interview, make sure you're prepared. Yes, I know that seems obvious, but nothing is worse that stumbling over a question and replaying it over and over in your head later (especially if it was live and had a lot of viewers). Many interviewers will be willing to do a prep call and talk through the basic structure of the interview, including the specific questions.
3. Start small
Don't shoot for a CNN interview right out of the gate. There are plenty of webinars, vlogs, livestreams and more that can work well to give you practice (and whose audiences aren't so big to give you angst), build your confidence and work your way up to bigger stages. My MASAMI co-founder and I have found that getting into the regular habit of telling our story on video and livestreaming has honed our pitch in ways that are hard to quantify, but are meaningful. We watch videos of ourselves from a year ago and are amazed at how far we've come. Even though content (video included) is theoretically online forever, the ones with smaller followings, views and search terms will eventually fade into the background as you do more and more — so you really shouldn't worry too much about videos you don't like sticking around.
4. When all else fails, take some media training
There are some great coaches who can help you objectively work on your presence, speech cadence and posture. These are small things to master, but they can make all the difference in a successful video interview. If you Google media training, you'll also find several resources that offer free guides. A lot of the training is pretty straightforward (easy to learn), but many of us are just not used to looking at ourselves with the eye of a publicist, so you'll find a lot of helpful reminders and tips.
5. Don't forget about the setting and the lighting!
It can really make the interview look professional and help you look your best. If you start to do a lot of videos, invest in a ring light. Try to avoid being backlit if you can. And set up your space with the video at the right height (better to look down at you than up), the right lighting and the right background (no clutter).
I hope these tips help you get comfortable as you venture out into the video world. I'm learning more every day and hope to keep getting more and more comfortable myself. I embrace putting myself out there because it's necessary in the startup life.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor