I was recently picked to film a video for a project that Treeline is working on. The video was originally done by one of my colleagues but then we needed to re-record it due to technical reasons and he wasn't available. Long story short, I had to record myself doing this pitch that was written by him.
I spent a few hours in a room all by myself, staring into a camera, saying a pitch over and over again and when I finally felt I was done, I showed it to my CEO. I thought that he'd view the video and 'ok' it and I could get back to the phone. Wishful thinking.
"You are waayyyy too salesy in this!!" he says. "Do it again and stop being so salesy – be yourself." I am myself…I am not salesy…I'm Sean. Regardless, if the man wants me to do it again, I have no choice but to do it again. I spend a few more hours and change my tone, I try to be a little more candid in my approach and change the inflection in my voice.
I bring my CEO back in and with all the confidence in the world that I have given him what he wants, I show him the finished product. "Don't take this the wrong way, Sean, but you come across as arrogant. I know that you are not arrogant but the guy on this screen is arrogant. Do it again and try not to be so cocky."
So, I go back at it. I take all the color out of my voice. I pretend that I am reading stereo instructions and that my voice has only one tone. I sound like an automated voice mail service, "Please hold while the Nextel subscriber, you are trying to reach, is located…" I act like I just woke up with zero 'umph' – I am boring. At this point, I am doing everything he is asking, there is no way that I can be considered arrogant or salesy in this; this has to be a direct hit. I feel like I hit a home run and it only took me 8 hours.
I show my CEO for a third time. Six seconds into watching the new video he interrupts with, "I hate it. Take a break and we will have to see if you can take another stab at it tomorrow." Let the record show that I did not volunteer nor did I want to do this video but the fact that I could not do it was not sitting well with me at all. I am a competitive person and I hate losing…this was a huge loss.
I went home and I racked my brain through the night. As I polished off a bowl of ice cream, it finally hit me – the problem was not HOW I was saying the message but it was WHAT the message was saying. I sat down and I re-wrote the script. The message was consistent from before but now it was my words.
I got into the office early the next day and filmed it again. By the time my CEO got back in I had a few takes done and ready for viewing. "That is so much better." He said. "That is a genuine message and I believe in what you are saying."
I won. I was relieved at the fact that I was not incapable of doing this and the only reason that I questioned myself is because I was only looking at the problem from one vantage point. When you are faced with a problem don't waste your time and beat your head against the wall with one solution. Look for multiple potential solutions and see what works. It is not always how you are conveying the message, but the message itself…duh.
BTW, we decided not to use my footage at all and went with the video of my colleague – life lessons are everywhere…like remember to delete unusable footage. Someone got hold of mine – keep your eyes peeled on youtube for my outtakes. Live and learn.