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Rohini Makwana on Bouncing Back from Being Fired by a Celebrity

Video producer Rohini Makwana is my guest on the Engaging Marketeer Podcast today. Rohini helps businesses create video to promote their services and products, and to get across why they what they do to their potential customers.

I spoke to Rohini about how she gets under the bonnet of businesses and gets the story out of them, and why it is that you as a business owner need to use video marketing to promote yourselves.
The highlights of the interview are below, but this one’s absolutely packed with useful tips, so be sure to listen to it in full!

Rohini on getting into film

Darren: I’ve seen a couple of interviews you’ve done before and you mentioned how you got into film when your dad brought home a very large old camera.

Rohini: Yeah, do you remember the old digital Kodak cameras that were the size of your head? He was just super excited to start using it and I became fascinated with how it worked.

Darren: Did you start using that and make any sort of films or video with it?

Rohini: Yeah, even though I couldn’t do videos I was kind of pretending I could, and experimenting with the settings, doing little documentaries here and there and random things around the house. I became fascinated how things work so I became a kind of go-to person in the family where if something broke I was the person to fix it. Then I started to study marketing for a little while because again I was fascinated with how things work and how people work, and I wanted to go and work in the wonderful world of television.

…on being sacked from TV by a celebrity

Rohini: I was working with a very famous comedian on one of their talk shows – I’m not going to say who it was!

It was my third day on the job so I was still getting my head around everything, and the television studio itself was a humongous maze, and in the TV world it’s very fast paced and you have to pick things up as soon as possible otherwise you get left behind. In studio jobs in particular you can only talk to certain people within the crew, like your direct producers or people who are kind of at the same level as you. So I was a runner, basically the bottom of the bottom, which meant that I could only talk to other runners on the show, or two producers. If I was to talk directly to the comedian or with the writers, I could get fired.

So the producer said to me “Rohini, your job for this afternoon is to meet guests and bring them up to the celebrities’ dressing rooms.” Sometimes the guests would have friends and family members and we had to cater to them essentially, so I was told to meet them in a specific area of this massive reception place.

I said to this one group “Hi guys, who are you here to see?” and they told me the name of the comedian they were here to see, and I was like “okay great, how long have you guys known each other for? How do you know each other?” The questions I was asking were the ones I was told to ask by the producers.
This comedian they wanted to see was lying there on their sofa in their dressing room and I just walked straight in with these guests and I was like “Hi, your friends are here”, but it turned out they didn’t know each other. So I was panicking thinking “what the hell have I done?” It turned out that they were actually audience members and fans and desperate to meet their hero!

The producer came up to me and said “can we have a chat”, and it’s never good when anybody says that in a corporate life! Firstly, they were annoyed that I just walked straight into the dressing room, even though I said I thought the comedian was in rehearsals. Secondly, they said there was a list I was supposed to have, so why didn’t I check that list? I was like “how am I going to know about something that I haven’t been given?”

So the producer goes “you’ve got to go home”, and I was like “do I come back tomorrow?”, but they said “no, just go home and don’t come back!”

Darren: That’s awful! You were thrown into it there because you weren’t given all the information.

Rohini: That’s kind of the nature of the industry. It’s very cutthroat like that because they can’t afford to have mistakes. But it got me thinking and it unveiled the dark side of the industry and I’ve seen it happen to other people – people who get hired just based on their profile picture – so I’m actually glad it happened.

Darren: I should say so, yeah, because it sounds like you’re well out of it and you’re doing pretty well now. It may not have seemed like at a time but it was a good move and you got to watch the Lion King!

…on what video production companies do wrong

Darren: I speak to a lot of companies that say “we could do with a video for our website” and they never really know why they want one or what they actually want it to do. What do you think some video production companies that work for corporates do wrong in terms of producing the videos?

Rohini: I would say that some of them, not all of them, don’t look at the bigger picture – pun intended!

I asked one of my long-term clients “why did you choose to go with me?”, because they’re quite a big e-commerce company and they could have picked pretty much any production company out there. They said “when we called you, you asked questions about the purpose of the video. From the sounds of that conversation, the other production companies made him feel quite small because they were straight on to the budget, so straight away he felt like he was just money to them.

Our job really is to have a look at where they’re at now in their business and where they want to be in the future – and that could be six months’ time, 12 months’ time, or even 10 years’ time – and we’ll help them to create a bespoke video strategy that’s going to help them get from A to B a lot sooner.

…on being camera shy

Darren: How do you help people with video when they say “I know I need video for my business, but I’d be rubbish in front of a camera?”

Rohini: First of all, I’ve got to establish whether or not it’s a confidence issue or something else. Nine times out of ten, it’s going to be someone not liking how they look or sound on camera, so we can work with that. The other part of it is thinking whether having your face on camera is the right strategy, because sometimes having an animation is the better option.

I’ll talk through the confidence to begin. The first tip is to recognise where lack of confidence comes from, and when we start to address that we unearth limiting beliefs.

It took me a long time to get my head around the fact that actually it’s okay to make mistakes with video, and when you kind of stumble through things it makes it more relatable, funnily enough. I’ve also got a bunch of videos on how to create camera confidence that I’m more than happy to share.

But sometimes, having your face on camera might not be the best option. If you want to demonstrate something fairly complicated, or very boring, and you just want to bring it to life, an animation may be the better option for you and they’re actually probably more affordable than you think.

…on her video creating tips

Darren: What advice would you give to somebody who wanted to make their own videos and do it themselves so from a technical and planning standpoint?

In a nutshell, understand your audience and why you want to do videos, and the theory behind your purpose for doing videos.

Get yourself a selfie stick tripod that’s really lightweight. They’re like £10 from Amazon, so dead cheap and really durable, and they allow you to just prop up your phone and you can just record straight away.

When you get your phone, it’s going to come with the standard camera settings, so you need to make sure that these actually optimised.

Buy a nice big ring light – the bigger the better. I think they go for anything from £20 to £90 and they’re really helpful, especially if you’ve got a small recording space.

For audio, get yourself a lavalier mic so you can cut out background sound and make your audio a bit more crisp. Make sure it’s got three lines on the jack part of it otherwise it’s not going to connect properly to your phone.

When shooting, maintain eye contact with the lens, because that’s the equivalent of looking at somebody in their eyes. Don’t be tempted to look at yourself on the screen when you’re recording, look at the lens because that’s going to help the viewers engage with you on a subconscious level and build trust with you. It’s like if somebody doesn’t look at you in their face when they’re talking with you – does that person make you feel at ease or not?

…on script reading

Darren: What advice would you have for people if they want to deliver scripts in a natural way?

Rohini: I would say write it in a way that you talk. Get on Word and use dictation tools, so just speak and it will write your audio as text.

Darren: That’s a good idea!

Rohini: It will save you a lot of time. You can also download teleprompter apps, and that way you’re not having to try and memorise anything. You can actually pause and look down at the scripts or whatever because the script is directly in front of you, and the app will detect when you’re speaking, so it will keep scrolling up and then pause when you’re not.

Finally, remember that you’re the expert, and you know your stuff inside and out. I think a lot of people forget that people are watching this to see what can they get out of it, so you don’t have to prove yourself or anything like that. You don’t have to get the information perfect, but you do have to show up and be consistent with it.

Rohini offers video confidence courses for as little as £30. The best way to contact her is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or TikTok, where the handle is @livewiremediauk.

Another great interview, and if you enjoyed it as much as I did, be sure to subscribe to the Engaging Marketeer Podcast on your preferred platform for more great content like this.

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