Videotape Your Performance

August 4th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

One of the best pieces of advice for improving at public speaking is to videotape yourself and then watch the video, looking for ways you can improve. This technique is commonly used by the best speakers in the world.

But this idea can work for any kind of performance, not just public speaking.

If you’re a salesperson, tape one of your sales presentations. If you’re a realtor, record yourself showing a piece of property — just bring your own camera and tell people you’re videotaping the property as you show it to them. If you have a desk job, setup a camera in the corner of your office or cubicle, and tape yourself doing your work for 30 minutes or so. Your co-workers may think you’re weird, and they’re right, but that’s OK. Weird is good.

When you watch the video, you’ll probably be surprised by what you see. Take notes.

After you watch the video normally, make two more passes through it. On one pass watch the video without sound, and on another pass listen to the sound without video. By focusing on one channel at a time (visual or auditory), you’ll pick up more detail.

Now if you want even better results, find someone who’s more talented or skilled than you in your particular field, and invite them to watch your video and give you feedback. Have another salesperson watch your sales presentation. Ask another realtor to review your property showing. Have another speaker watch your speech. They’ll be able to point out even more ways you can improve. Even a single minute of footage can reveal volumes. Take their advice.

You can use this technique to improve in any area where visual or auditory feedback is possible. Videotape yourself making dinner, exercising, playing pool, changing a diaper, cleaning a room, mowing the lawn, sewing a dress, doing maintenance on your car, etc.

It may take a bit of courage to show your video to someone you perceive as an expert, but you’ll experience rapid growth by using this technique liberally.

If you manage other people, you can even turn this into a group project. Invite everyone to tape their performance (with their permission of course), and review the tapes together. Then invite round-robin feedback and suggestions to help each participant improve. Five minutes of footage + five minutes of feedback = ten minutes per person. If people care about their careers and possess a modicum of maturity, they should generally welcome this kind of feedback, as they’ll gain many new ideas for improvement and become aware of blind spots that are hurting them. However, if the idea meets with staunch resistance, you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands as a manager.

Grab a camera and start taping.


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