009: Being Yourself On Camera (aka Authenticity Is Not A Dirty Word)
The podcast dedicated to giving you a no-bullshit look at what it takes to build relationships through video. This is for the scared, the overwhelmed, and the awkward as fuck, and all those who believe diy doesn't have to mean amateur but don't know where to start ...
Welcome to the Video Matters podcast.
In this episode ...
I want to have a quick chat about authenticity, because it’s still a word people throw around, and it’s still a word that’s getting a bit of kickback. Personally, I think authenticity is always relevant, even if it is overused. So I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on this topic in true Tors fashion, with a hint of vulnerability and a heap of irreverence.
Let’s start by making sure we’re on the same page: what the fuck is authenticity anyway.
Well, the actual, literal definition of authentic is something genuine, something made or done in a traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original. It can also mean reliable, dependable, honest and trustworthy. For entrepreneurs, who're unlikely to ever physically meet most of our customers, it’s easy to see why authenticity is such a huge deal when it comes to being able to sell.
Spoiler alert: even if you don’t have products or services, you’re still selling. It may just be an ideal, a lifestyle, your perspective or experience, a fashionable look (or an unfashionable one), but make no mistake - you’re selling.
As I’ve been figuring out my business, my brand, what I stand for and how I want to present myself, the question of authenticity and what that actually means smacked me over the head like a tree falling, alone, in the middle of a forest.
If no one online knows the real you, are you really being inauthentic?
Perhaps more importantly; does it even matter?
Let’s look at it from another perspective. People buy from people they trust, authenticity - or the appearance of authenticity - is important in building trust.
Lack of authenticity is often seen as lying, so you better be damn sure you’re showing up in a consistent way. And by that I mean, the personality you display is consistent, not just the days of the week you do stuff.
So how do you know if you’re being authentic?
Here’s the undeniable thing: being authentic is when you’re being you. And that sounds lovely and simple and all, but really, what does that even mean?
Because we’re not single layer cakes of chocolatey goodness. We’re multifaceted humans, complex, emotional, slightly nuts, and each of us completely unique. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? There’s literally no one else on the entire planet, out of the billions of humans who live here, who are exactly like you in every way. Not a single one.
Not to mention, we show up in different ways depending on the situation, adherence to expectations (or not), and people we’re interacting with. We don’t talk to our best friend and our grandma the same way, just like we don’t talk to a kid and a roomful of peers the same way.
We’re used to tailoring how we communicate based on who it is we’re communicating with, and I think that’s where we start running into trouble when working online. Because who the hell is it that we’re communicating with, right?
We’re talking one to many, often we’re not interacting in real time, the people we’re talking with are from all over the world so their cultures are different, sometimes their language is different too! In real terms, we’re not talking to one person, or communicating in a situation we’ve ever experienced before. So we go looking for people who have to see how they do it right? Tell me I’m not alone in this.
What we end up with is a lot of people who sound like each other, which would be pretty hilarious if it weren’t sad. We start tailoring ourselves to follow the template laid down by other people, who’ve probably followed someone else’s template too. Instead of being us, the way we best like to be, we start being someone else so we can get the likes and approval we’re all secretly wanting. Validation people, it’s no joke.
I challenge you to think of the people who stand out the most to you in our online business sphere, and think about what it is about them that makes them memorable.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest it’s not because they sound like everyone else.
You might be sitting there thinking, well that’s all well and good Tors but that doesn’t help me figure out how to stop doing that.
And you’d be right. So here’s how you stop doing that.
Sit down and think about who you hang out with that makes you feel like the version of you you like the most. What does that version look like? What does that version feel like? What sort of words does that version use? What sort of facial expressions and body language? What kind of clothes does that version wear? What makeup, hair style, accessories does that version love?
I want you to get really really clear on who you are in that person’s company, so clear that you can put that version on like a fantastic new outfit. You know the kind, the one that makes you feel like you can do anything. I want you to become so familiar with that version that you can turn it on and off regardless of who you’re actually talking to.
And then I want you to start using it on camera. Oh yeah, we’re going somewhere with this.
That version, it’s often super relaxed, fun, funny, and sparkles like sparkly thing. It’s probably the tipsy version of you, mine certainly is. The version where you laugh and smile and play without worrying too much about what anyone else thinks. You’re in control, but less bothered by outside opinions. These things are infectious, and translate through the lens.
When you’re relaxed and having fun, so’s your audience. And a relaxed, fun enjoying audience is likely to come back, because they like feeling that way.
Let me give you a quick example for those of you who’ve seen me on camera. I’m about as introverted as you can get on the introverted scale, I’m super shy and I’m socially awkward. I hate being the centre of attention, and - as I’ve mentioned in past episodes - I hated being on camera for years. I stick to the edges of rooms in a crowd, and I’m more likely to be found geeking out over the latest Marvel film (or my favourite novels) than living it up as the life and soul of the party. In fact, I’m more likely to be at home reading than at the party at all.
Does that make me inauthentic to put myself out there?
Does that make me inauthentic to be personable, relaxed and clearly enjoying myself … at least I hope it’s clear, because I really am enjoying myself.
Does it make me inauthentic to show up on camera looking and sounding confident when I’m not like that in real life?
Oh hell no. Because I’m only not like that in real life around people I don’t know, and that sure as shit isn’t the best version of myself. No one likes that person, not even me, which is why I work so hard to become better than the stories in my head.
This person you’re hearing is the best version of me. To me, right now, I’m talking to my bestie. That person you see on screen when I’m on camera, that’s who my bestie gets to hang out with, especially when you see me downright having fun. Wanna see what that looks like? Watch the video below and see me indulging in a tremendous amount of silliness and I fucking loved it.
Now, a word of warning as I begin to wrap this up.
Showing up as the best version of yourself is a very different kettle of whitebait than oversharing. One of these things is not like the other, and makes people uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable people don’t buy into you and they certainly won’t buy from you. No guesses for which one that is.
The way I see it, to be authentic you need to figure out what’s important to you about how you communicate and present yourself to the world. Then stick to it. It’ll be uncomfortable for a while, because you’re making a stand on something that makes you feel vulnerable. I promise, it’s worth it. Choose to embrace the things that make you different, that help you stand out from the crowd, and that you enjoy about yourself.
For me, it’s about refusing to conform to an image of something I’m not. I’m not a polished, traditionally feminine woman who loves make-up and hair products, and I won’t lie about that by cloning myself into the fashionable and expected. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m also a fan of swearing, and I refuse to censor myself because society thinks women should have a more PG-appropriate vocabulary. That shit does not fly with me. I didn’t want to be the type of video producer that I personally found un-relatable, that’s my line in the sand. And it’s important to me that other women learn to become comfortable enough in how they look, and certain of the importance of their message, that they too can go on camera with confidence.
Take the time to figure out your line in the sand, your best version, and then practice being that. Embrace your authenticity, and let’s stop treating it like it’s a dirty word.
Tors is a television professional, who studied all aspects of television production before launching her career spanning almost a decade. She's worked with a BAFTA nominated production team, has her own entry on imdb.com, and has even walked the red carpet several (terrifying) times.
She's had chips thrown at her by David Tennant (it was an accident, he's got terrible aim), she's interviewed some amazing actresses, and she attended the cast and crew screening of Empire Strikes Back at the grand old age of four.
Now she lives in south Wales with a large dog and a small cat, where she uses the knowledge she gained in her television years and beyond, to help online biz owners step in front of the camera and connect with their audience.