Imposter Syndrome – why I haven’t got it

by Sarah Lockett on May 29, 2020

OK, now I sound like an unsufferable big-head. I’m not. But here’s my reasoning: I am freelance, so if I was no good, no-one would ever employ me again. I’d do one job for each client, and then I’d never hear from them again. So, the fact that I keep getting repeat work means I must be doing something right.

If I were a permanent employee (“staff”) then I’d be waiting for the day I am laid off. Every day, I’d think: this is the day I’m going to be told they’re phasing out my position, downsizing/reorganising etc. But, as a freelance, I’m always delighted any time any new work comes through the door 🙂 I think, well someone, somewhere has passed on my details and said, Sarah’s OK, give her a call.

Sarah Lockett, TBD Media

And in fact, in the lockdown, some pieces of work have come completely out of the blue. An old schoolfriend who is now an exec at a software company saw one of my blog posts about Media Training; the cogs started turning, and now I am delivering some remote training for them. Another colleague who I hadn’t heard from since 2012 (as I discovered from searching back in my emails) recommended me to a client and I ended up doing a really interesting piece of work for them (remotely). So I have had a ‘good lockdown’, as it were (equally, all of my traditional work has evaporated, so I have had to adapt).

On Imposter Syndrome: I definitely used to have it in my 20’s and 30’s. But somewhere along the way, the facts have to be listened to. People keep employing me, so I must be OK! And just because people don’t tell you you’re fantastic all the time, it doesn’t mean you’re not.

So, have faith and keep going, work on improving all the time and expanding/honing your skills. Check back with clients to make sure you’re giving them what they want (“take direction” as they say in the movie business) but at the same time, offer advice if you think your way is the right way (remembering however, as an old boss used to say, “It’s their train set,” if they want it a different way).

That’s a lot of elements to remember, but – in a nutshell – if you love your work and think you’re good at it, keep going.

An old joke, but true! Never mind the headlines, did the presenter do, wear or express something through his/her body language that distracted you from the story?

We know 70% of communication is non-verbal. And, as I teach in my Media Training sessions, these factors can be very off-putting and stop you from putting across your message effectively. Today I am thinking about: body language.

Sarah Lockett, TBD Media
Sarah Lockett, TBD Media

I would include in that: facial expression, eyes, eyebrows, head movement, hands, arms, shifting weight from foot to foot (if standing), bobbing up and down, swaying, glancing around shiftily, absent-mindedly looking around the room (if on a remote call), eye contact (with the camera/webcam or interviewer, if they’re with you). Plus some off-the-wall examples I have seen, including: stroking your thigh during an interview (yes!), twisting the fabric of your jacket, fiddling with bangles/watch etc. These are what a poker player would call your “tell”, the leaking out of your anxiety, a displacement activity for your nerves.

I love it when interviewees have energy and spark! At least they’re not dull and closed-off. BUT this can come across as anxiety or panic – and it’s not calming/reassuring when you have to communicate that you are in charge, on top of a situation, in control. People who run/jog, or who are pretty fit, often have this kind of energy – giving the impression they’d rather be hitting the tarmac and working off their energy in a marathon instead of sitting in an office being trained by me. I hate to dampen people’s sparkle, but in SOME candidates, it’s better to calm that boiling energy and focus it a bit more.

There’s a whole 45 minutes I could do about body language! But this is a short blog, a taster of my thoughts on the subject. Get in touch for details of my Remote Presentation Training – 90 minutes, usually via Zoom – and I promise not to crush your fabulousness!

Am I judgey?

by Sarah Lockett on May 22, 2020

…or just observant? When I watch TV, or do a Zoom call, I look at the people on the screen and say (actually out loud!) things like, “Hat, fringe, perm, goatee, polo-neck, dangly earrings, roots… etc etc”. I say what I see, the first thing that pops into my mind as they appear. I may even pause the TV so I can critique/assess their home (when they’re #wfh). I’ll say, “Messy room, guitars strewn around, blank wall, back-lit, bad lighting, bad camera angle, dressing gown on back of door, coat on back of chair, broken venetian blind… etc”.

In my Remote Media Training Sessions, I teach people about the importance of looking smart and presentable (which includes the room) so as not to distract from what you are saying. But I have become increasingly conscious that I might be a bit judgey!

studio interview with Sarah Lockett
studio interview with Sarah Lockett

If we want to have pink hair, wear a hat indoors, dress down in a hoodie, stencil on our eyebrows, or just look a bit frazzled and working-from-homey, then that’s fine, isn’t it? And other people (me) should be a bit more accepting, tolerant and just kind! People are dealing with a lot right now, they’re doing their best, just keeping their heads above water. And if they manage to do a Zoom call, in between the home-schooling, endless cleaning and cooking for the family, then they should be applauded.

Yes, that’s all true. So I have actually modified my collection of photos of people looking messy/work-inappropriate, which I use in my media training sessions. And I am not having a go at people who aren’t model-beautiful: we don’t all have to be Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Some people wear wigs (after cancer treatment), others wear toupees for self esteem, others LIKE a colourful, wacky, artistic wardrobe; others feel comfortable in more casual clothes. In fact, a client I trained from a large tech company told me: the tech guys actually aren’t taken seriosuly if they dress too smartly, if they DON’T wear hoodies and jeans!

But… having said all that, some rules still hold true. I always say: dress one notch up from how you’d normally dress – one notch smarter, tidier, cleaner, more polished. One client swore she “knew where everything was” in her massively untidy home-office. I advised her to tidy, and I see from her podcasts – she has! And it looks great! Much less distracting.

I promise I’ll be kind and gentle if you book one of my Remote Presentation Skills training sessions, carried out via Zoom. They’re also fun! and if you really want to know what pops into my mind when I see you, I’ll let you know, kindly.


Are you dull?

by Sarah Lockett on May 5, 2020

By which I mean: is your voice dull? Is it monotone, lacking in “light and shade”, changes in tone and pitch? Flat, repetitive, difficult to listen to for any length of time? Hard to understand? Do you have a heavy accent? Do you feel self conscious putting expression and emphasis into your voice?

Sarah Lockett, TBD Media
Sarah Lockett, TBD Media

Or are you, like me (according to my mum) a terrible show-off who just likes listening to the sound of her own voice?! You have to be a bit of the latter to be a good communicator. But not over-the-top, obviously.

There’s a great line in Channel 4’s “Father Ted” when Ted needs one of his friends to make an announcement over a department store’s intercom. A likely candidate pipes up, “Ted, do you need someone with a dramatic, resonant, theatrical voice?!” seeing his chance at fame. (The answer is no, we need someone with a terribly dull voice). But my point is: you do have to be a bit theatrical to get your point across well.

Teachers are usually good at this (not always) because they need their students to understand, to follow and absorb what they’re saying. They need to transmit the emphasis, the important aspects of any given topic. If they see their class is not following, they think of another way of expressing it, working around the subject until it’s understood. We all need to be teachers when we’re speaking – we need to ask: are we communicating well, and are people understanding?

I have been teaching communication skills for a while now, and in these Coronavirus times, I have pivoted (terrible corporate jargon, sorry) to teaching remote/Zoom video skills. One of the key aspects is using your voice well. If you’re someone who naturally likes to be in the background, then put a bit more expression into your voice, and don’t feel embarrassed or self-conscious. If you’re not a “front-of-house” type – even a bit shy – then get over it! When people can only see you as a 5cm square on a Zoom screen (or smaller on the phone), they need more expression from you, or ‘projection’ as they say in the theatre 🙂

This and many more techniques are covered in my Remote Video Presentation Skills course, delivered via Zoom/Microsoft Teams or a platform of your choice. Get in touch, or even call me, with your best, resonant, theatrical voice!