I’m primarily an introvert. At least when I am in need of a recharge, it is alone time that tends to refresh me. In other words, talking to people – especially those whom I don’t know well – isn’t my most natural state. While there are some for whom talking to anyone comes naturally (my mother, for example, could hold a conversation with a post) for me it’s been a skill I’ve had to cultivate and develop over time.
I work as a videographer. This is a profession you may not associate with heavy conversation, nor perhaps with customer service in the traditional sense. And indeed large stretches of my time are spent in relative solitude, immersed deep in editing with my headphones on, keeping all outside distraction at bay. When I’m out on location filming, however, it’s an entirely different situation. But first a little backstory…
For a time in my earlier life, I found myself working in the world of retail at a ski shop (partly because I love winter sports, and partly because at that point nothing better was available to me). While it felt somewhat like a ‘placeholder’ job in that it wasn’t preparing me for a specific career, looking back I now realize it had a profound impact on my professional abilities. One of the greatest lessons I learned was the ability to talk to people. And furthermore, to be able to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. People of all ages and ethnic backgrounds came into the shop, and I had to be able to be engaging, ascertain their needs, and truly be helpful, all the while being friendly and personable with every single customer.
Now, when I am out on a video shoot I try to keep this same kind of attitude in mind. Even though I may not be selling the client a physical product, I am still a representative of my company and need to be aware of, and responsive to client needs as they arise, and be personable and engaging all while I’m getting the shots I need. Instead of just ‘hiding’ behind a camera I try to be accessible, communicative, explanatory if necessary, and pleasant to work with. Not only can this interaction with clients sometimes help me get a better feel for the direction of the video or the culture of a school or organization with whom we may be working, but it is also my hope that being personable on location helps provide the client with a quality experience even in the middle of this sometimes weighty process. Creating a video can be a major investment for some organizations, and I believe that by being accessible and engaging at every point in that process, you can alleviate some of the stress or uncertainty a client may be feeling.
Videography can be perceived as a profession that relies heavily on technical skills. And certainly, these are prioritized in the craftsmanship we bring to all our videos. But embedded in and woven throughout the technical and editorial requirements is this set of ‘soft skills’ that honestly may be just as important in making the client feel at ease and drawing out the most engaging story – ultimately resulting in a better video. In the end, every part of the video creation process can benefit from prioritizing that personal engagement – that element of customer service. And if this old introvert can do it, so can you.