We Live in a Visual World

By Elaine Hausman

 | June 27, 2022

From the moment we walk on a stage or appear in video we are being judged. Our every move speaks volumes before we say a single word. It is even more so in video where everything is amplified and magnified.

“Behavioral scientists call it the first impression bias: a limitation in human information processing that causes us to make quick and incomplete observations about others based on the first piece of information we perceive.” [The Decision Lab]

If science tells us first impressions can lead to quick assumptions and snap judgements, what do we do if those decisions are not in our favor?

What can we do to prepare ourselves to have some control over what people instantly feel? To prepare for that reality, meet it, take control of it, and direct it?

As much as video magnifies every aspect of where we are or where we aren’t, it also serves an equally important function. Video serves as a mirror with invaluable feedback that allows us to envision where we would like to be. To envision for ourselves, decide for ourselves, and find within ourselves what we want to exhibit and broadcast.

Even before we press record or step onto a stage how we feel about ourselves is what people pick up first. Before needing help with technology or where to begin with messaging, the primary concern I receive from clients is not liking the way they look or feeling confident about the way they look on camera. And often, feeling they don’t look like themselves.

It is damaging to every aspect of our confidence, self-belief, and authority if we don’t like the way we look or feel confident about how we appear.

I’ve witnessed this even more profoundly in women who spent most of their lives feeling and being beautiful. Finding it very hard to reconcile how they look and feel about themselves in their later years. Making it even more difficult for them to appear in front of a camera.

Having been an actress for many years before becoming a Video Performance Coach, I knew the emphasis on the visual, along with its intense scrutiny especially placed on women. Thankfully, I also gained a control and confidence from the profession to ‘bend the elements’ to my will to look my best in video and feel beautiful.

But what if my clients couldn’t do that? What if they didn’t have that ability or control?

Early on I came across a commercial director who gave his clients an exercise to help them feel good about themselves on camera. What became immediately clear was the reason we don’t like the way we look on screen.

We hold a younger version of ourselves in our mind than the age we are. That disconnect makes us feel we do not look like ourselves or like the way we look. That discrepancy is what needs to be reconciled. To see, meet, and accept ourselves for where we are in the present.

I performed the exercise, found it deeply rewarding, and created my own version that has been an integral part of my work ever since.

The exercise is a private and quiet journey that takes place facing a mirror. A simple, gentle, neutral observation of the woman looking back.

A space where judgments from the outside world and our own aren’t invited. Where relentless comparisons and the fixation on youth aren’t allowed.

Where the discrepancy between what we think you look like and how we actually appear slowly resolves and a natural coming into oneself occurs.

When spending time face to face for a few moments of gentle observation every day, leads to deep feelings of gratitude and appreciation and ultimately, to genuine self-love, self-acceptance, and feeling beautiful.

If we have the power and the ability to influence how we are perceived, to control that first impression; imagine how differently we will be judged holding such positive thoughts about ourselves.

Imagine what people will pick up first when we easily and naturally exhibit and broadcast the belief we have in ourselves and own exactly who we are.

From the moment we step onto a stage or appear in video, nothing could be more attractive.

Published in the first issue of The Contemporary Woman Magazine June 2022

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