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Ready for Prime Time?

Noeleen McGrath provides media training to an executive
Noeleen McGrath provides executive media training.

My background is in TV news. I spent 12 years, both as a producer and a reporter, at the network and local news levels before I went into business for myself as an executive media training, executive presentation skills and executive on-camera coach.

Paying My Dues

I had to pay my dues as a network news producer before someone would give me a shot “on-camera” as a reporter and anchor. Even then, I needed to start out at a small TV news station because major local market and network news bosses told me that I would no doubt make some mistakes on-camera. In their experience, everyone does when they are starting out.

At the time, as a young 20-something with more than three years of network news field producing experience under my belt, I was outraged. Me? Make a mistake? NEVER!

Guess what? They were right. I made mistakes. Fortunately, they were rare and mostly minor. As the big bosses predicted, it was much better for me (professionally) that I made my on-camera mistakes in a small market where no one would care AND they wouldn’t impact the long-term success of my career.

Social Media Videos

Lately, I find myself thinking about those news bosses when I watch people sharing their videos on professional platforms like LinkedIn. This is not a forum for beginners. Your professional reputation is on the line, as well as the reputation of your company, products and services.

Does that mean you shouldn’t try video? No. But it does mean that you might need to work on your on-camera and video producing skills before you’re ready for prime time i.e. LinkedIn.

Tips

The fastest way to get better is to get some coaching and/or hire someone to help you produce your videos. If neither coaching nor video production assistance is in your budget, here are some suggestions.

Ask for feedback: Before you post videos anywhere, ask a friend (or two) what they think. If they didn’t know you, would they be interested in what you’re offering/selling? Would they want to do business with you? Do you come across as likable? If they don’t like something, ask them to be specific. Push them if you have to. For example, is there something about your appearance/ demeanor that is distracting or off-putting?

Keep your videos short: If you don’t have a lot of on-camera experience, limit your videos to one minute. It’s really hard to hold people’s attention for longer than that unless you are a very charismatic person with a lot of experience performing on-camera.

Limit your face time on-camera: The pressure to be good is greater when it’s just you on-camera. Reduce the time that you appear on-camera by covering yourself with video, graphics or even pictures.

Lastly, don’t expect to be great right away. I didn’t win any on-camera awards at my first small market TV station. It took me three years of being on-camera every day, multiple times a day, before I really hit my stride.

Executive On-Camera Coaching

If you would like more information about our executive on-camera coaching services, please contact us .

Should You Do
That Interview?

“Should I do that interview with…” is a question that I get asked all of the time by clients.

My response is: it depends.

The first consideration: are you one of those people who believes that there is no such thing as bad publicity? If you are– and you feel confident in your ability to handle tough questions– go for it.

If you disagree– and I personally do– then you should do some investigating before you agree to any interview.

CHECKLIST

1. Who is doing the interview? What’s his reputation? Does he have an axe to grind?

2. What, if any, news organization is he affiliated with? If he is, check out the organization’s reputation. For example, do they have political leanings that you need to know about?

3. Check out the interviewer’s last  six stories, blogs, interviews etc. and see what topics they covered. Was his writing fair and balanced? Were both sides of the story represented?

After you’ve done your homework, weigh the pros and cons. If the person is fair and balanced, I’d recommend doing the interview. If the interviewer has an axe to grind or a bad reputation, I’d recommend skipping it unless there was a good reason for you to take him on. And even then– I’d only recommend it if you’d been through an executive media training program and were good at handling tough questions.

More Blogs

If you’re interested in more tips, check out our other media training blogs.

Coaching

If you would like more information about our executive media training offerings, please contact us. We would be delighted to customize a program that fits your exact needs.

Chicago-Based, National & Online Options

We are based in Chicago, but routinely work with clients on both coasts and everywhere in between. We also offer online coaching for those that prefer to work with us remotely.

International Coaching

We have also worked with clients in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Australia and Antarctica are still on our bucket list. (Although Noeleen has visited Cairns and Sydney on vacation!)

Online Demand
Changes Interviews

The man behind the camera said, “Who are you and what do you do?”

The man being interviewed said, “My name is —- and I uh. Wait. Can I start again?”

Yes, I saw the whole mishap on-camera. And so have plenty of other people by now.

A few years ago, you’d never have seen that mistake– at least not in traditional media outlets. At most– a couple of soundbites would have been chosen and that would be that. BUT with greater emphasis on new and rapidly changing online content– more and more reputable and non-reputable organizations are posting interviews in their entirety online.

Part of that–as I said– is to create new online content for readers/ viewers. The other part is that you now have many people/ organizations who don’t know how to edit and/or don’t want to pay anyone to do it.

As a result, you need to really watch what you say. NEVER assume that anything is off the record. NEVER assume that someone will edit out your mistakes. From the time that you walk into the room to meet someone– you must assume that everything is on-the-record AND that everything that is recorded will be shown.

This also means that the need for media training is greater than ever. Not only do you need to watch what you say, but you need to have enough content to fill ten or fifteen minutes.

More Blogs

If you would like more media training tips, check out our other blogs.

Coaching

If you would like more information about our media training or on-camera coaching services, please contact us. We would be delighted to customize a program that fits your exact needs.

 

Chicago-Based with National & Online Options

We are based in Chicago, but routinely work with clients on both coasts and everywhere in between. We also offer online coaching for those that prefer to work with us remotely.

 

On-Camera Makeup for Men

After yesterday’s blog on makeup for women, I received many emails from men wanting to know whether they should wear makeup on-camera. YES!

Never fear– you don’t need to buy a liquid foundation. You need some type of powder (pressed or loose) that will keep the shine off your face. It’s a fact that we all sweat under hot camera lights, so you need something to prevent that sheen of sweat from forming on your upper lip, forehead and/or nose. (And if you’re bald, you might need to dust some powder on top of your head.) Laugh all you want, but you’ll thank me later when you don’t look like the anchor in Broadcast News with flop sweat.

What Should You Buy?

Your options run from loose powder to pressed powder. The loose powder is usually packaged in a round container. The pressed powder will be found in a compact. If you can, try to find a shade that matches your skin tone. If that’s too difficult, look for translucent powder that doesn’t add any color. It’s sheer and just absorbs moisture.

One word of warning– the loose powder tends to be messy. It can get all over the place if you shake out too much. A compact is much easier. It comes with a powder puff or sponge and all you do is swipe your puff over the pressed powder. Then pat the powder puff all over your face. Voila! You’re ready for your close-up.

Brands

If you’re shopping in a drugstore, try NYC, Physician’s Formula or Coty Airspun for loose powder. For pressed powder in a compact, try Cover Girl or Maybelline. Both are available in a wide variety of shades.

If you’re willing to spend a little more money–and you are brave enough to walk into a MAC makeup store– I highly recommend their Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. It’s marketed as an on-camera makeup for men and women.

Final Note

Remember, if you choose an on-camera makeup that adds color to your face, you will also need to put makeup on your neck. Otherwise you’ll have have this terrible two tone look i.e. a darker face and a lighter neck. Both your face and neck should be the same shade.

In Case You You Missed It

Here’s our on-camera makeup for women blog.

If you are interested in more tips, check out our other on-camera blogs.

Coaching

If you would like more information about our media training or on-camera coaching services, please contact us. We would be delighted to discuss all of your training needs.

Ways to Work With Us

While we are based in Chicago, we often travel to both coasts– and everywhere in between– to work with our executive clients. We also offer online coaching for those who prefer to work with us remotely.

On-Camera Makeup

Update: October, 2013– Smashbox is discontinuing its High Definition Healthy FX Foundation. In its place, they are offering their Liquid Halo HD Foundation SPF 15.

Koh Gen Do also offers a newer HD makeup: Aqua Foundation SPF 15.  It comes in a jar whereas their Moisture Foundation comes in a red tube. Both are $62.00.

When I first started out in TV news, a makeup artist told me, “If you feel comfortable walking down the street with the amount of makeup you have on, you aren’t wearing enough to be on-camera.” (She knew that I was a girl who went for a natural look in my everyday life.)

Even with the advent of High Definition Television that still holds true BUT now you need to make sure your foundation melts into your skin. Otherwise we’ll really see every imperfection. In other words, the days of heavy and/or pancake makeup are over. Or they should be if you want to look your best on-camera.

HD Makeup

For years, I have recommended that clients go into MAC stores and ask artists to help them purchase on-camera makeup. Lately, I haven’t had great customer service experiences with MAC, so I hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend them. But you can still meet great MAC makeup artists who will help you at their stores.

If you’re doing this on your own, there are two HD liquid foundations that I recommend.

My hands down favorite, especially if you have sensitive skin, is Koh Gen Doh’s Moisture Foundation. A Hollywood makeup artist introduced me to it at the end of the summer. It melts into your skin and a little goes a long way. Plus my sensitive skin LOVES it. You can find it online at Sephora or on Koh Gen Doh’s website. You might also try contacting Koh Gen Doh’s delightful customer service reps. When I emailed them about shades, they offered to send out samples that helped me choose the best one for me.

My second favorite HD makeup is Smashbox’s High Definition Healthy FX Foundation with SPF 15. This also melts into your skin with a wide range of shades. It goes on best when applied after Smashbox’s Photofinish Foundation Primer. You can find both at Ulta, Sephora or on Smashbox’s website.

In Case You Missed It

Here’s our blog post on men’s on-camera makeup.

And if you want to learn more tips, check out our other on-camera blogs.

Coaching

If you would like more information about our media training or on-camera coaching offerings, please contact us.

Ways to Work With Us

While we are based in Chicago, we often travel to both coasts– as well as everything in between– to work with our executive clients. We also offer online coaching for those that prefer to work with us remotely.

Taking a Great Headshot

If you check out my Eat The Lens logo, my website or my social media profiles, you will see my professional headshots. They were all taken by the wonderfully talented photographer, Paul Audia.

They are great pictures of me and I am often asked about them on twitter. Who took them? How did you find your photographer? How much did you pay?

People also ask me for advice about their headshots. What should I wear? How do I know which side is my good side? Should I airbrush my pictures?

Here’s my advice for taking a great headshot:

1. How do I find a photographer? Find someone whose headshot you like. Ask who shot it. Check out the photographer’s website. Ask whether the photographer has experience working with non-models. This is critically important because some excellent photographers don’t have the patience or the personality to work with amateurs. You want someone who does great work AND likes working with real people.

2. How much should I pay? If you’re lucky, you can find someone good for under $300.00. If you’re on a budget, ask friends if they know anyone with a great camera, who would be willing to take a picture of you. (Read below for details about special pricing for a session with Paul Audia.)

3. What should I wear? Wear bold, solid colors. Steer clear of prints or patterns. Choose a color that looks good on you. AND if this is a professional picture, make sure what you’re wearing is appropriate for your business.

For example, my brother is an attorney and I would tell him to wear a suit for his picture. You can also change it up. I wore my sapphire blue top for a creative business look and my purple jacket for more of a corporate look. I consult with both groups of people.

4. How do I know which side is my good side? Ask a friend to take pictures of you while you’re looking to the right, left and straight ahead. For most people it is obvious which side is best. Some people are lucky and they have options. For me, straight on is best.

5. Should I airbrush my pictures? That’s entirely up to you. Personally, I only want a little airbrushing. I don’t want my pictures to look like someone else. I subscribe to the L’Oreal tagline when it comes to airbrushing…”You, only better.”

My Experience

Normally I hate sitting through photo sessions. I know that’s an odd thing for a former TV news reporter to say, but it’s true. I can talk on-camera all day long in front of thousands of people. (And I have.) But when it comes to photo sessions, I am just never really comfortable. I hate sitting still and holding poses. BUT that all changed when I finally found someone that I loved working with: Paul Audia.

Audia truly is one of the nicest, most gifted photographers that I have ever worked with. Not only is he a brilliant photographer, but he’s a lighting genius. As such, your photos won’t need much airbrushing. Best of all, he put me at ease right away. He quickly assessed what angles were best for me and he gently directed me throughout the shoot. It only took him 30 minutes to take more than 100 shots of me in three different outfits. Of those– I probably loved at least 30 of them.

Advice 

Finding a great photographer, whom you really like, is the best advice I can give you in terms of taking a great headshot.

And if you’re in Chicago, I recommend that you take advantage of special headshot sessions that are offered only a few times a year with Paul Audia.

Normally it costs $500 for a session with Audia. (He has taken pictures of President Obama and other celebrities.) But if you catch him during one of these special sessions, you will pay around $200.

Check out @simasays on twitter to find out when she’s offering the next Headshot Days with Audia.

More Blogs

If you would like to read more of our tips, you can check out our other on-camera blogs.

Working With Us

If you would like more information about working with us, please contact us.

Charisma

Question: True or False–You’ve either got charisma or you don’t.

Answer: True. BUT there are some things you can do to up your charisma quotient.

Explanation: Some people can learn to be charismatic, but that’s a very small group. An equally small group: people who not only have charisma, but know how to turn it on and off. When those people enter a room, all eyes are on them. They are the flame; everyone else is a moth. Their charisma is obvious.

But not all is lost if you don’t possess that spotlight-grabbing type of charisma, particularly if you possess other talents. There’s something to be said for people who are quietly confident. They are usually very bright and well-spoken. They have good content and know how to deliver their messages. They understand the power of brevity and answer questions succinctly. In short, they’ve received executive presentation skills coaching or executive media training from someone like me, who taught them to make the most of what they’ve got.

You too can be successful if you assess your strengths and play to them. If you’re great at messaging, focus on that. You’re a good storyteller? Make that work for you. If you’re good at talking to people, have a conversation with them. (Don’t know your strengths? Consider getting some coaching.)

If you accentuate the positive, you can often eliminate the negative. Even without a show-stopping performance.

Coaching

If you would like to learn more about connecting with your charisma, please contact us. We would be delighted to help you play to your strengths… and become a more charismatic communicator.

Chicago-Based, National and Online Options

While we are based in Chicago, we often travel to both coasts (and everywhere in between) to work with our corporate clients. We also offer online coaching for those who prefer to work with us remotely.

Ready for Your Closeup?

A photographer came around to take a group picture at an event I attended. And before he could get everyone arranged, a woman shouted out, “No, I need to go to the other side. My left side is my best!”

Three women replied, “How do you know that?” And she said, “I’ve had my picture taken enough over the years to know.”

She jokingly added, as she cheated the left side of her face to the camera, “I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!”

I chuckled because it is one of the questions that I get asked most often on twitter: How do I figure out which side is my best side?

Simple. Get out your phone or digital camera and ask someone to take pictures of you. First– straight on. Next– with your left side slanted towards the camera. Finally with your right side facing the camera. These are not profile shots. Rather you’re angling or “cheating” one side of your face towards the camera/ light.

Now look at all of the photos with a critical eye. Choose the one that looks best. For most people, it’s an obvious choice. If you’re not sure, take a survey among your trusted friends. Go with the one that most people like the best. Then you’ll be ready for your closeup.

More Blogs

If you’re interested in reading more about looking your best on-camera, check out our other on-camera blogs.

Coaching

If you would like more information about our on-camera coaching, executive media training or executive presentation skills coaching programs, please contact us. We would be delighted to collaborate with you to create a program that will help you achieve your communication goals.

Chicago-Based, National, Online Options

While we are based in Chicago, we routinely work with executive clients on both coasts– as well as everywhere in between. We also offer online coaching for those that prefer to work with us remotely.

International Coaching

We have also worked with clients in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Australia or Antarctica are still on our bucket list. (Although Noeleen has visited Cairns and Sydney on vacation! New Zealand too!)

Taking Risks

The catcher threw the baseball low and out of frame to me. I caught it with one hand. (I was holding the microphone with the other.) And I quickly pulled the ball up and into frame so viewers could see it.

When I returned to the newsroom, I received a standing ovation for my liveshot. I laughed and bowed and was about to head for home when the executive producer stopped me.

“Noeleen– that was so great! But it was such a big risk. Weren’t you afraid that you’d drop the ball? ”

“No. It never occurred to me that I’d drop it.”

Background: I grew up playing 16″ softball in Chicago. (Yes, the ball is 16”.  And we don’t use gloves.) When I was nine, I was robbed of a surefire hit to left when the shortstop leaped into the air and caught my line drive one-handed. For the next month I threw a 16” softball against a wall until I could catch it one-handed with both my right and left hands. So, catching a tiny baseball was no big deal.

“But what if you dropped it? What would you have done?”

“Then I would have dealt with it and moved on. For example, the catcher’s throw was really low today and I handled it. No big deal.”

Confidence

I know I’m a confident person, but I am always amazed at people who are afraid to take risks. Without risk, there is rarely any reward.

Whether it’s public speaking, presentations or media interviews, you need to be willing to put yourself out there.

As I’ve said before, it’s the difference between playing not to lose and playing to win.

Winners take risks.

Coaching

If you’d like to learn more about taking risks during presentations or media interviews, please contact us. We’d be delighted to discuss how we might be able to work together.

Chicago-Based, National & Online Options

We are based in Chicago, but routinely work with clients on both coasts and everywhere in between. We also offer online coaching for those that prefer to work with us remotely.

More Blogs

If you liked this blog, you might also be interested in our blog about the difference between being memorable or perfect.

photo credit: chemisti via photopin cc

Memorable or Perfect?

My first TV news anchor reel wasn’t great, but at the time I thought it was perfect. Perfectly written, perfectly edited and perfectly memorized.

Yes, that was the problem– perfectly memorized. We didn’t have a teleprompter in CNN’s Chicago bureau, so I had to memorize a three minute anchor segment. I wasn’t sure what lines our editor would cover with video, so I memorized the whole thing. And it showed.

I sounded like a robot. I lacked spontaneity. I was blah.

In sharp contrast, I recently misspoke while moderating an early morning panel discussion. I said the opposite of what I meant while ad libbing an introduction of one of the panelists. She quickly corrected me, and I laughed. I explained that I wasn’t a morning person– that my synapses didn’t start firing on all cylinders until the noon hour. Everyone laughed and I went on with the introductions.

After the event, several people came up to me and told me what a great job I did. Was I perfect? No. But I was charismatic and spontaneous. I listened to what the panelists said and I followed up. I steered the conversation, so the audience could learn as much as possible from these talented panelists. In short, I was memorable.

Today– 20 years after my first anchor reel– I know that when my choices are memorable or perfect, memorable beats perfection every time.

More Blogs

If you’d d like to read more tips, check out our other presentation skills blogs.

Coaching

If you’re ready to seize the day and would like to schedule a presentation skills coaching session, please contact us. We would be delighted to customize a program that fits your exact needs.

Ways to Work With Us

While we are based in Chicago, we often travel to both coasts to work with executives. We also offer online coaching for those who prefer to work with us remotely.