Articles

Look and Sound Better on Camera March 07, 2017 09:00

Look and Sound Better on Camera

By Michael Moreno

It’s never the most comfortable situation to be speaking in front of people. Anything could happen and your nerves can get the best of you. It’s even more strange to be speaking to a camera, where there is literally NO feedback. There are ways to overcome this awkwardness and build a space for yourself to create much better videos that will be more conversational and much more engaging for your audience (and more fun for you)!

I’ve outlined a few tips below gathered from experience on stage and on camera as an actor in New York City. The important thing to remember is that EVERY performer gets nervous. EVERY ONE. Meryl Streep, John Hamm, and the President. With practice, and these tips, you can learn how to move beyond that and excitedly engage with your passion and share it with your loving audience. 

Prepare

Know your topic and practice what you have to say at least once through. This will give you a chance to know where you can look up and connect to your audience on an important point. Just like when you tell any story there is a beginning, middle, and end. If you know where the important points are you can make sure you connect with your audience in those moments so that they will really hear your most valuable information. 

Eye contact is one of the most intimate connections we make in our everyday life and the more you can connect directly with your viewing audience the more engaged they will be with your videos. It feels personal and like you're embracing them. 

Warm up your voice. It’s important to remember that even though you may have a mic, it can’t do everything for you. Take just a few minutes to blow through your lips, lightly massage your jaw muscles, hum while moving your tongue around the inside of your lips in a big circle, hum in a low tone and gradually move up the scale to a high tone, and finally do a couple of tongue twisters to get your whole mouth working. These tips will help your articulation and make your voice more resonant (or louder without having to push).

It’s also important to know where your mic will be. You only need to talk loud enough for the mic to pick you up, but you do have to talk loud enough. The common phrase on a film set is talk to the mic, not the actor. In other words make sure even your softer moments are loud enough to be heard by your mic whether it’s three inches or three feet away. You have total control of this set-up so you can create the best space for you and your style.

Commit

Sometimes we have the luxury of editing and that lets us make mistakes and do another take, but with the power of LIVE streaming video we don’t get to edit out the mistakes, so EMBRACE them! Don’t aim to be perfect; there’s no such thing. Your audience is there because they want to see you. They listen to your ideas expressed through your personality. Be confident in who you are and that we are all here to listen to you because we like you and love what you have to say. Know that there is support on the the other side of that lens, not judgment. This is you getting to do what you love. Commit to coming in with confidence and any mistake then becomes a real moment and a chance to engage with your audience (Oops! Well, we’re all human./This is what happens when you’re a busy parent./I’ll send you the update or link to the correct info in the comments. Thanks for understanding!)

Connect

It’s not natural to talk to a lens like it’s another person. There are a few tricks you can use to let yourself appear more personable on camera, though. 

  • Relax. Take a moment before you start your video to take a few deep breaths, clear your mind, feel your shoulders relax, and tell yourself how happy this passion of yours makes you. Coming from a place of relaxed positivity will boost your energy naturally and will ABSOLUTELY come across on screen. 
  • Imagine you are talking to your best friend! You have that friend or significant other that you can share anything with and be your most honest self. This is who is listening to you when you’re talking to the camera. They get all of your jokes, they love your smile and they are there listening close and smiling back at you the whole time. 
  • Place the camera at or slightly above your eye level. This adjustment will help you keep your eyes as open as possible and is a much more flattering angle than shooting from below. NEVER shoot from below.
  • Keep Breathing. Let a little voice stay with you that reminds you to relax and breathe while you give your talk. This will get better and better with practice, but the more you maintain your relaxation, the more confident you will be and the more engaged your audience will be too!

It’s always important to set yourself up for success, and the best way to do that is to NOT STRESS. No one is going to die if you make a mistake, miss a point, have some technical problems, or get nervous. This is your passion and it’s a beautiful thing that we live in a world where you can freely share that passion with others. Love what you do and share from a place of love. 

 

Michael Moreno
Michael Moreno is an actor, father and entrepreneur in New York City. Working on stage, creating a web series, hosting a podcast for actors called The Actor CEO Podcast, and his work on Law & Order: SVU has helped him guide actors and public speakers on improving their on camera presence. His new company Wild Fire Video brings the right tools and techniques to Live streamers allowing them to dramatically improve their videos. 
Want to be part of the Wild Fire Video Beta? Find out more here: bit.ly/wildfirevideobeta

We're Boycotting Valentine's Day February 14, 2017 09:00

We're Boycotting Valentine's Day.

We're boycotting Valentine's Day.

Well, kind of.

When we were first dating, Ryan and I bought into all the typical Valentine's Day hooplah... we gave gifts, shelled out cash for overpriced mushy cards, and even made each other mixed tapes (yes, that ages us... I know).

Somewhere along the way, Valentine's Day became annoying to us. We didn't like being told that we HAVE to celebrate love on a certain day. Can't we just celebrate our love when we WANT to? What if the 15th is a better day than the 14th to go out to eat? Doesn't it mean more to celebrate our love spontaneously?

And what about people who don't have someone to celebrate the day with? Valentine's Day can be especially difficult.

So this year we've decided to boycott Valentine's Day. We're taking a stand. Call it a picket. Maybe even a riot (as long as it doesn't cause a mess in my house). Want to join us?

This Valentine's Day, let's do things a little differently.

Instead of store-bought cards, fattening candy, and wilting flowers, let's focus on what really matters:

Relationships.

Let's do what it takes to make our relationships strong, healthy, and productive.

How do we do that?

Start by telling the people who matter to you that they matter to you. Tell them you love them and want to build stronger relationships.

Then book a time to work with me. Whether you're thinking of your relationship with your spouse, child, friend, coworker, or family member, I will help you communicate with them. I'll help you get your point across, listen carefully, and resolve conflict peacefully. Whichever topic resonates with you, we'll work on it.

So this Valentine's Day, celebrate the day in a way that will last a lifetime: by building your relationships and making them stronger. Make a true difference. I'm now booking appointments for next month. Click here to reserve yours before they're all gone!


5 Tips for Communicating Without Getting Angry February 07, 2017 14:20

5 Tips for Communicating Without Getting Angry

Do you get angry? Do you find yourself infuriated and lashing out? We all feel that way at times. Certain things set us off, and we react in anger. We can curtail the anger, however, and it's important to do that so we can maintain our relationships.

Here are five tips for communicating without getting angry:

1. Talk often. Don't let things fester; deal with stuff right away. It's easiest to do that when we're having regular conversations. My husband, Ryan, and I have (almost) nightly coffee hour which really facilitates consistent communication. Because we are talking to each other so often, we are usually able to resolve issues when they are still small instead of trying to tackle issues when they've piled up and snowballed.

2. Ask questions. Seek to understand the situation from the other person's point of view. Listen without interrupting. Instead of making statements or accusations, it's important to allow the other person to express his or her ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Ask open-ended questions to gain a more thorough understanding of the situation. Don't pass judgment or assume anything.

3. Kindly and respectfully share your viewpoint. Be honest but nice. Yelling is not okay. Be direct and say what you need to say, but be kind. If you bite the other person's head off, it will be very difficult for that person to resolve the issue with you. Speak to that person in the way you'd like to be spoken to. Make sure you share everything you need to share. Don't hold back, but be nice about it.

4. Be okay with not agreeing. You don't have to agree about everything. Compromise. Many people believe that a relationship is "okay" only if there are no disagreements. That is false. Ryan and I disagree often, and we're fine with that. Seeing something from another perspective is valuable. We don't need to debate something to the death. We just need to be able to move forward with understanding. Neither of us needs to "be right" or "win" the argument because we're on the same team. We appreciate each other's viewpoints.

5. Speak to the other person the same way you'd like to be spoken to. Be kind and respectful. I've said this throughout, but it's worth reiterating here. Screaming never helps a situation. Ever. Take time to cool off before speaking if you need to. Be humble, and use the golden rule.

Ryan and I help couples learn these communication skills. If you'd like to work with us to learn how to fight right without killing each other, click here to reserve a FREE "Chat with Carrie" so we can talk more about it.


Are You Using Facebook Live to Grow Your Business? February 03, 2017 09:33

Facebook Live

Are you using Facebook Live to grow your business? Are you getting the results you want?

If not, it's time.

Facebook Live is a great tool for growing your business. It helps you really connect with your followers. They're able to get to know you on a more personal level. That leads to that "know, like, and trust" factor that you need.

But Facebook Live can be daunting. Not everyone loves to be behind the camera. Maybe you aren't sure how to get started, or maybe you don't know what to talk about.

No problem. With a few simple steps, you'll end the fear and frustration. Click here to get your FREE COPY of 3 Actions You Can Take TODAY to ROCK Your Facebook Lives, and learn how! Want to really dig in to Facebook Live? Check out our course:


Just Say No to #AllTheThings January 24, 2017 09:15

Just Say No to #AllTheThings

Somewhere along the way, busy-ness started being celebrated. Now we almost brag about how much we have to do and how we "don't have time" for anything else. It seems the more we have to do, the more successful we are. 

But what are we so busy doing?

Being busy working on projects we love or spending time with family might be energizing. If we're busy with activities that excite us and that we enjoy, those are the right activities to be busy with.

On the other hand, if activities are draining you or if you dread them, it's time to reconsider your schedule. It's time to prioritize. It's time to take control of your calendar because it may just be controlling you.

How do we do that?

1. Start with a blank calendar. Seriously, just totally start over. Make a conscious decision to only add items to the calendar that are absolute priorities. Give some thought to how many days each week you want as "free space" and don't schedule anything there. 

2. Prioritize your activities. Only add the "must-do" items to the calendar. If an activity isn't enjoyable or you feel obligated to do it, don't add it to the calendar. Some things will have to go, and that's okay. You'll thank yourself later.

3. Get good at saying "no." You'll need to say no to activities that you don't enjoy. You'll need to determine how many activities your kids can participate in. You'll need to decide which volunteer activities actually bring you joy and make a difference. Say "no" to everything else. 

It's your calendar. You are the master of it. Don't allow other people's priorities to fill your calendar. Rather, fill your calendar with your own priorities. You'll be glad you did.


Put Your Spouse Ahead of Your Kids January 10, 2017 10:38

Ryan and Carrie Sharpe

When I was first dating Ryan, he was my whole world. I thought about him all day long. I would count down the minutes until our next date or phone call. We got engaged and later married, and he was my first priority. I wanted to spend all my time with him, do nice things for him, and make sure he felt important (because he was). He did the same for me.

Then we had kids.

I knew nothing about babies. As a teenager I hadn't done much babysitting for kids younger than 3, and I was pretty young when my own sister was born, so I really had no experience with newborns or babies. To say I was a mess when our first baby arrived would be quite an understatement. I had no clue what I was doing. I felt like a disaster and a failure.

When our baby was born, my OBGYN told us that when we came for our 6-week postpartum checkup he would ask if we had gone on a Date Night during that time. He told us that was our assignment. At some point in those first 6 weeks, we needed to go on a Date Night without the baby.

I laughed at him. I really did. Date Night had never been a problem for us. In fact, almost every night was Date Night before we had a baby! 

But the truth is we struggled to get that Date Night in before that 6-week checkup. Rather, I struggled to get that Date Night in. I didn't understand the importance of making sure my husband was getting my time. I didn't realize then that I needed to purposefully position him and our marriage as my #1 priority, even over our children.

I learned my lesson when we finally went on that Date Night. It felt so good to laugh together and focus on each other. It was a huge relief to get a break from a baby crying. We reconnected, and I remembered why I love being married to him. 

Since then, Date Night has been an important part of our marriage success. Yes, there are times that the children need us, and their needs at times must come first. Yes, there are times when too many days go by between Date Nights. But, getting time alone with each other, without children, is a vital part of our marriage. We make each other our #1 priority. We have five children now, and after they all leave home one day, we'll be left with just each other. I don't want to wake up after the kids are gone and realize I don't even know my husband. I want to prioritize him every day to keep our marriage strong.

I spoke about this topic on a podcast episode with Modern Twin Mom, Sunit Suchdev. I'd love for you to listen in as we discuss the importance of prioritizing your marriage over kids. Click here to tune in. It's Episode 3.

Wife ChatIf you're a wife, we'll encourage you, support you, and share resources with you over in our Wife Chat community. Click here to join!


We Need Communities January 03, 2017 11:40

We Need Communities

We can't do life alone. We need input from others in both our professional and personal lives. We need other people's expertise and experience. We need to learn from their mistakes and successes. Brainstorming with others and getting their perspective is invaluable.

That's why we've created two new communities for 2017!

The first is for business owners and other professionals who would like to incorporate public speaking into their visibility strategies. If you're interested in Facebook Live, video, on-stage events, teaching, or webinars, this group is for you. Whether you're new to public speaking or you're a seasoned pro, we'd love for you to join. Sharing experience and learning from each other is what this group is about, with the overall goal of helping each other connect effectively with our audiences. Click here to join our Communicate to Connect community.

The second group is for wives who want to communicate effectively with their husbands. It's a supportive and encouraging group to learn from others and share resources and experience. Marriage is a journey, and becoming a great wife can be hard work. You don't have to do it alone. Wife Chat is the perfect place to meet other wives on this marriage journey and learn from each other. Click here to join Wife Chat.

We hope that you'll join one or both of these new groups. We're so excited to engage with you in this more personal and productive way!

 

Know someone who would benefit from our communities? Please share this article with them!


3 Reasons Your Marriage Needs a Break December 27, 2016 09:00

3 Reasons Your Marriage Needs a Break

The daily grind and never-ending family activities can really take a toll on your marriage. Days and weeks can fly by in a blur of grocery shopping, house cleaning, work, and parental taxi service. Before you know it, you look over at that person you married and can't remember the last time you talked about anything that didn't involve responsibilities, obligations, or the family calendar.

Your marriage needs a break.

Taking a break together is absolutely essential to a strong, healthy marriage. You need regularly scheduled Date Nights, but you need an overnight (or better yet-- an entire weekend) getaway to take the break that you both need. You may think you don't have the time or money to take that kind of break, but you seriously can't afford not to take a break. Here's why:

1. You need to unwind. Getting away alone together gives you time to de-stress without the dirty dishes, TVs, and Facebook newsfeed calling your name. When you get away alone together, you can hear yourself think. You can focus on each other instead of work and bills. You can shut your brain off for a little while and recharge. You need to. You both do.

2. You need to talk without interruptions. Child chatter and ringing phones do not make perfect atmosphere for adult conversations. You and your spouse need to be able to finish a complete sentence without a child interrupting to have his butt wiped. You need to be able to have an entire conversation without looking at an electronic device. Taking a break together sets the stage for reconnecting and communicating effectively. Whether you need to discuss how to tackle a challenge you face or you just want to talk about ice cream flavors, taking a break together will provide the opportunity to do that without interruption.

3. You need to laugh and have fun together. It's hard to enjoy each other if all you ever do is work (career, house, and otherwise). You need to get out of your usual surroundings and be able to let loose a little. Having fun together reminds you why you fell in love in the first place and encourages you to make enjoyable new memories together. Laughter is good for your soul and for your health, so do a few activities that are fun for you both. 

Taking a break doesn't have to be a huge production or an expensive venture. Cash in your hotel points, utilize family and friends for babysitting, and take a couple days for yourself. Go hiking. Go camping. Visit a museum. Check out a new coffee shop. Whatever. Just get our of your normal routine, and leave your worries behind for a couple days. Just focus on each other. Have fun. Talk and laugh. Fall in love all over again.

Your marriage needs that break.

 

101 Date Nights

Click here for your FREE COPY of 101 Date Nights: Affordable Ways to Have Fun & Connect!


3 Ways You're Not Listening December 13, 2016 09:42

3 Ways You're Not Listening

Most people assume they are good listeners. They probably don't give listening much thought at all. It just seems natural to listen, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, effective listening is rare. That's why there is so much miscommunication in the world. It's why incorrect assumptions are made. It causes fights, conflict, and anger. If you think you're a good listener, it's easy to tell if you're right.

If you do any of the following, you might not be listening as well as you could be:

1. You formulate your response while the other person is talking. It's impossible to truly listen to what is being said if you are doing that. You'll miss vital details, and you won't be in tune to the other person's verbal cues. If you find yourself thinking while someone else is talking, shift your focus to the speaker. Don't worry about what you'll say next. Simply listen. You'll have plenty of time to think and decide what to say when the other person is finished.

2. You interrupt. If you finish other people's sentences or jut in to share your own stories, you can't possibly be listening. Interrupting is frustrating to the other person, and that person will stop truly sharing. It sends the message that your ideas are more important. Instead, bite your tongue. Wait until the other person is totally finished speaking before you say anything. You will have plenty of time to share your thoughts when the other person is finished.

3. Your cell phone is your priority. For the love of God, put down that darn phone. Nothing shows disrespect quite like staring at a screen while someone is talking to you. Shut off the ringer, and refuse to look at it. Even checking a message or answering a text is a clear indicator that you are not truly listening to the other person. No one can multi-task like that, and it's rude anyway. Your phone can wait.

If any of those ring true for you, it's never to late to change your habits and hone your listening skills. Pay attention to it and make necessary changes. It's worth it because effective listening shows you care and ensures that you'll truly hear other people.

 

Communicate for a Change email challengeFor more help developing your listening skills, join our FREE Communicate for a Change email challenge! Click here for more information.


Building Stronger Family Relationships During the Holidays December 06, 2016 09:43

Building Stronger Family Relationships During the Holidays

During the holiday season, there can be a lot of stress. We're overscheduled, our budgets are tight, and we're dreading that family visit that includes old Uncle Harold and his distasteful jokes. Despite all of that, we can come through this holiday season with stronger family relationships if we try. We just need to create opportunities to disengage from electronic devices and promote face-to-face conversations.

Stronger relationships won't "just happen." We have to work on them, and we have to be purposeful about it. Here are a few tips for doing that:

1. Plan a favorite family activity. Our family enjoys snowshoeing, card games, and game nights. None of those costs much, they don't require much planning, and they all provide opportunity to talk to each other. Some of our best memories have been made while snowshoeing when we're taking in beautiful views and laughing about something one of the kids said. Find an activity your family enjoys, and be sure to do that during this holiday season.

2. Try something new. Take a cooking class together. Try downhill skiing. Check out a museum you haven't visited before. While we love our familiar favorites, sometimes it's nice to try something we haven't done before. Doing that as a family provides an opportunity to work as a team, get vulnerable, and help each other be successful. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll make memories.

3. Volunteer together. Nothing builds a family bond like doing good work together. Whether you take a shift serving lunch at the homeless shelter or simply decide to shovel driveways in your neighborhood, you'll create a bond with your family while helping other people. Working together to make life easier for someone else forms a bond like nothing else.

4. Give Secret Santa gifts to each other. Sometimes we focus so much on what we're getting that we forget how giddy we can feel when we give. If that's the case this year, draw names and start a Secret Santa program in your family. Simply give each other tiny gifts for a few days in a row. Your family will bond while thoughtfully choosing gifts for each other, and when you reveal who the Santas are, you'll have lots of laughs and great discussion.

5. Deliver cookies to friends and sing Christmas carols on the way. For this one, you'll spend time together while baking and decorating the cookies, and you'll get time together in the car while you deliver them. Christmas carols add to the festive atmosphere, so turn them up loud and sing along. Having fun together as a family is a great way to build a bond. 

These ideas should help you think of ways to spend time with your family while promoting stronger relationships. Choose an activity you all can enjoy, and utilize it to start having conversations. You'll laugh together and create memories for years to come.

 

How to Stay Sane During the Holidays The holidays don't have to be stressful! For more tips for enjoying this holiday season, click here to grab your FREE COPY of How to Stay Sane During the Holidays.


Encouraging Good Behavior During the Holidays November 29, 2016 09:00

When Kids Are Impolite

I often wish my kids would behave more like adults, especially in public or at formal events. Let's face it: I want perfection. I really want them to display good table manners, say "please" and "thank you," make small talk with good eye contact, and refrain from doing anything that might embarrass me. I wish for the same during the holidays. There's nothing like a family dinner or holiday party to test even the most well-behaved child's behavior. I've learned over the years, though, that perfection is totally unrealistic and actually even overrated.

Parents may feel out of control during the holidays, but we aren't entirely powerless. Here are a few tips for surviving the holidays with kids:

1. Get enough sleep. Everyone gets cranky when tired, so be sure your children get enough sleep during the holiday season and especially before a big holiday event. Same for you. Enough said.

2. Be reasonable. Young children cannot be expected to behave perfectly for 8 hours straight. They also cannot keep a formal gown spotless for an entire day. They cannot sit perfectly still or put up with their annoying cousin for hours on end. Be sure to think through the reality of the situation and don't ask too much of your kids.

3. Prepare your children. Bring toys or activities to keep them busy during holiday gatherings. Make sure you have sufficient snacks. Discuss the plan with them so they know what to expect. Talk about the manners you want them to display. If there will be a guest present who is troublesome for your children, talk about how to handle it ahead of time. Give your kids an escape route if they sense trouble starting. Let them know they can come to you if there is a problem. It's a good idea to inform them how long they will be at the event, what foods will be available, and what your expectations are. Talk about it all so your children are well prepared.

4. Make corrections in private. You'll embarrass your children if you correct them in public, so if a correction is necessary do it in private. Your child will appreciate the respect, and a break from the activity is a good idea anyway. If a situation at a party gets completely out of hand, simply leave. Sometimes it's better to just cut your losses. You can discuss the behavior after everyone has calmed down.

5. Get over it. Nothing is perfect, including children and holidays. If an event ends up less than enjoyable, don't dwell on it. Simply learn from it and move on. You may be disappointed or embarrassed, but the important thing is to remind your children that you love them. Your family is so much more important than a single event or holiday.

The holiday season is full of fun and enjoyment, but it can be overwhelming and downright stressful at times for both parents and children. Plan well, and follow our tips, and your family will make it through this holiday season unscathed.

 

How to Stay Sane During the HolidaysThe holidays don't have to be stressful! For more tips for enjoying this holiday season, click here to grab your FREE COPY of How to Stay Sane During the Holidays.


Our ultimate holiday gift guide is here! November 21, 2016 17:25

Ultimate holiday gift guide

It's time to choose the best gifts for all the important people on your list.

We want to help, so we're listing a few of our favorite things to help your friends and family develop better communication and stronger relationships in the upcoming year. Happy Shopping!

[Full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Affiliate links are present in this list.]

 

Douwe Egberts
You know we love our nightly coffee hour! That's how we keep our marriage strong!

Douwe Egberts is our favorite brand of coffee to brew. We like it hot (iced coffee is GROSS!), and we drink it black.

We have a cabinet full of coffee mugs that each represent a place we've visited or an event we've attended, too.

Order yourself a couple bags of Douwe Egberts, and join your spouse and friends for a coffee break. You'll be glad you did!

Click here to check it out!

 

 

Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, by Mark Gungor
Mark Gungor's Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage is our absolute favorite DVD set to recommend to married couples.

Mark is hilarious, and his marriage advice is absolutely top-notch!

This is a great gift for any married couple, whether they are newly married or have been together for decades!

Click here to check it out!

 

ClueClue is our favorite family board game. We think your family will love it, too!

There is nothing better than a board game for some good old family time. You'll laugh, communicate, and strategize together while making memories that last a lifetime!

Click here to check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personality Plus
Personality Plus, by Florence Littauer, is the most useful book we've ever read. It revolutionized our marriage!

It taught us to understand our personality differences and to really learn how to utilize each other's strengths and not be so annoyed by our differences.

This book also helped us relate to our children better. You'll have a blast reading this book and seeing your family members in it!

Click here to check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bing Crosby Christmas musicPlay classic Christmas music while your family wraps gifts or bakes cookies together.

Bing Crosby is our favorite for Christmas music! His voice is recognized by everyone and is the perfect compliment to your family function!

Click here to check it out!