Welcome to the Telling of Story Podcast. I’m your host, Storyteller Jewels, and along with my guests, it’s my endeavour to explore the art and science of storytelling, to attract, engage, and retain a business audience, and to unpack why it works for some, and not for the many that try.

Listen in as Ciara talks about how everything is marketing.

Ciara Ocasio: I was one to often say when I was more on the marketing side and not internal communications, I would tell everyone, everything is marketing. And I really do feel like everything is marketing. You know, the way you dress yourself for the day is marketing. How your house is decorated is marketing the music you listen to.

And I kind of feel that way about stories. Also, they’re there. And you can either cultivate them and use them in, in a way that’s going to be useful to you, or you could just kind of let them tell themselves and [00:01:00] maybe they won’t be as easily identifiable. But I think it’s all around us, the, the ShamWow commercial.

Jewels: In this episode, I have the pleasure of talking with Ciara Ocasio. Ciara’s journey in media production and videography began with a degree in photography. But a love for the moving images has been a constant force throughout her life. As a creative young professional, Ciara brings a unique blend of technical expertise and a knack for collaborative storytelling to every project.

Beyond the professional realm, Ciara’s ability to connect with people and her insatiable curiosity have been key drivers in her career success. When she’s not crafting compelling visuals, you might find her putting on events, volunteering or honing her skills at Toastmasters. What sets Ciara apart from her belief is the power of stories, both micro and macro.

To her, stories aren’t just enjoyable, they’re potent tools capable of driving real results. Her innovative approach to [00:02:00] videography and video editing reflects her commitment to uncovering and sharing the narratives that already exist in our daily lives. Ciara, welcome to the show. 

Ciara Ocasio: Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.

Jewels: Ciara, you started life in photography, but you’ve ventured into the video production world. Can you tell me a little bit about that journey and your commitment to what spiked the passion for storytelling in a professional context? 

Ciara Ocasio: I’d love to. And I would love to give you an answer when I can think of one, it’s something that truly snuck up on me.

Photography was something that I grew up seeing as very important. My grandmother is that woman that has photo albums on top of photo albums on top of photo albums. It’s kind of the well known secret of the family. God forbid, when my grandmother passes on, I know there will be a fight for the photo albums because there’s so much context and history there of our family.

So that is what I grew up seeing, how important photos [00:03:00] are and how much they can make you feel. But even knowing that I didn’t know that that’s what I was going to study in college. I had the privilege of going to a performing arts high school where I actually did ballet. I did dance there. And I say it was a privilege because I know a lot of people’s high school experience wasn’t all that great and you had to deal with a lot of the awkwardness of growing up and clicks in my high school.

Couldn’t have been further from that. It really was about the art. We had visual art. Vocal theater art. There was so much going on, and I used to do dance there, but in my last year of high school, when they were telling us to all think about, okay, how are you going to move on from here? What are you going to do after that?

Little spark of photography just kind of started to get a little brighter and a little bit warmer. I had not been studying that throughout high school or even in my adolescence, but something really kicked off in that senior year of high school where I said, I’m going to follow this thread and see where it takes me.

Took me to university where I studied it. And I’ve really [00:04:00] valued my time there. I value higher education, being surrounded by people that are working towards the same goal, but they’re all doing it a little differently was only beneficial. And Right after college, I was that age old story of not getting a job in my field right away.

It took me quite a few years to be able to actually find that role, and I didn’t let it get me down. I just continued to follow my instincts and follow The spark where I felt it and where I thought it would be useful. So before getting into an official role of official photographer, videographer, I had a lot of office jobs and front desk reception and things here and there.

And that storytelling part of me, that audio visual part of me always made its way into the work that I was doing. I was always trying to find a way either in a presentation or. Telling my boss, Hey, have we thought about presenting this, maybe this way? It was always making itself known. So it helped to kind of keep that driving when I wasn’t officially a photographer or [00:05:00] videographer, keep that drive going to keep me towards my end goal.

When I got the job that I had, it was photographer and videographer. It was really doing both, which was so hard at times because that’s a lot of work. I mean, a photographer, a full time photographer is enough work within itself. And then a videographer on top of that. I mean, it was a lot. But it was incredibly useful because I really had to wear both of those hats simultaneously sometimes or for working on a story that they’re asking me to do headshots for.

But I also need to get an interview for it. Those are two different things, but they are kind of the same story. And then I moved on from there to being a media producer. And now I’m a full time remote video producer. It’s, it’s what I wanted for many, many years. And I’m really grateful to finally be here.

And when I got here, I go back to your original question. And I had to ask myself. Okay, how exactly did I get into this type of work? What is it about this type of work that I actually like? And I went all the way back to me being a kid, and I remembered something I used to do that I almost [00:06:00] erased from my memory.

And I used to put DVDs at the time in my computer, and it would open up on Windows Media Player, and I used to record movie scenes from movies. And then I would go into whatever free video editing software was on my computer at the time, and I would re edit it. For fun, this is what I did for fun. And when I looked back at that, I was like, Oh, wow, this framework has really been there a lot longer than I even realized.

Just this desire and passion to create stories, even when obviously like movies, they are a beginning, middle end. There was something there that I saw that I could work with and have fun with and play with and just make something new. So. That’s my long answer for that question. 

Jewels: How old were you at that point?

Ciara Ocasio: Oh boy, I think I was in middle school, if not elementary school. And I forgot that I did that until I just looked back and thought how did I get here? Because no one in my family this isn’t like a family trait, no one in my family does video production or media [00:07:00] production or storytelling really. So to look back and see that that’s kind of where it started for me was interesting.

It’s kind 

Jewels: of natural. And was your grandmother like a photographer who just wanted to capture every moment? Did she always have a camera in her hand? Was she composing the shots or was it kind of just haphazard and she just happens to Keep taking lots of photos. 

Ciara Ocasio: It’s so funny you say that. I don’t ever remember seeing a camera in my grandmother’s hands when I actually think about it.

I can see it in my mother’s hands and my aunt’s and things like that, but not really in hers. It, I don’t know if maybe she just kind of said that. That baseline for all of us and we all just kind of acted accordingly, but it’s photos that she took. It’s also photos that other members in our family took.

There’s pages that are just photo booth images when that was more popular. It’s really just is our family and it is kind of a lost art, which is hard to admit. Printed photos are not really things that you see. 

Jewels: No, I’ve [00:08:00] transitioned myself being of a certain age. I’ve transitioned from having lots of physical photos.

So we used to, I used to, I’ve taken photography myself since I was quite young as well and got into it quite a lot in my early twenties or late teens, just casually, but I really enjoyed the process. I’ve had lots and lots of physical photos. And then obviously we’ve, you know, since then we’ve transitioned into digital and it is very much a lost art, as you say.

So. After a while, I’ve also collected tens of thousands of digital photos and obviously digital is so much easier to take because it’s not a waste of a photo. And I remember carefully taking photos when it was print because each one cost you a dollar or so, whatever it was at the time. So in more recent times, I’ve felt that drawback to having something that’s visible because once you take a digital photo, unless you physically go through your phone or something like that, you don’t tend to look at them as much.

So I’ve gone to the extent of [00:09:00] getting some of those digital frames and connecting the photography to that. So they’re always visible somewhere in the household at any point in time. So And that way you’re always sort of feeling or getting drawn back to those moments, because I love that bit, you know, you look at a photo that’s 10, 20, 30 years old, and you’re immediately drawn back to that moment and that event or whatever it is, so it is a lost art.

Ciara Ocasio: It’s incredible. I actually just bought a photo album from the thrift store with the intention of starting to print photos that I have digitally. Even photos from when I was in high school digitally, that’s still Many, many, many, many years ago, printing that out and putting it in an album will still serve that, that same purpose.

So hopefully I get to that soon, but yeah. 

Jewels: In your bio, you talk about micro and macro stories. Can you tell me a little bit about that? And for context, can you just explain what that is? What marker and macro stories are 

Ciara Ocasio: sure. So I think there’s probably different opinions on what a micro and a [00:10:00]macro story is.

There’s probably different opinions on what storytelling is, right? That’s why this podcast is not one interview with one person and that’s it. You’re talking to a bunch of different people cause we all have different perspectives, but I think. In my opinion, micro stories could be quite a few things. So for the formal definition, I would say is kind of a short or a smaller story that is effective in grabbing maybe initial attention or making someone kind of feel.

Related to the story in a small way, and then the macro story is kind of like the overarching narrative. Of those micro stories to kind of create a broader 3. Theme, excuse me. And maybe just overall, like a brand identity. So for micro stories, I have a more formalized example, but before I even get to that, personally, I feel tick tock is a really good example of micro stories.

Obviously you have people that are trying to spread a story out part 1, part 2, part 3, but there’s some that [00:11:00] really exists within their own universe. I would even argue a meme could be considered, you know, a micro story depending on what it’s about and what it is. I really think you can get kind of.

Niche about what you think stories can be in general, but I pulled up an example because I figured this question would come up and one of the better campaigns. I could see for this and it happens every year. It’s a Google year and search campaign. So the micro side of it would be the Google year and search is highlighting those topics and events and stories that people have searched the most throughout that year.

So each little snippet that they show, each search query represents kind of a micro story talking about the concerns and the joys and the experiences of individuals. But the macro story of that is kind of the collective human experience, the power of. Information that search engines like Google provide us.

So then the overall impact of that would be how [00:12:00] the macro story reinforces Google’s role as a facilitator of knowledge and connection for all of us. Which is kind of like a mouthful, but if you watch the campaign, I think you’ll get a better visual idea of what I’m. Saying, I do video production, words are not my forte, I speak in images.

So I suggest everybody go and look up kind of the Google year and search and they have it for every year. It’s a beautiful example of micro stories being brought together in a macro story, then kind of tying into that overall impact of what Google wants to be to us. And 

Jewels: in a business context, how would you use those two forms?

Ciara Ocasio: Well, you know, it really, it depends. And I feel like I. Frustrate people often with that. When they come to me asking about, well, how do I make a good video? Like, you know, everything is so dependent on exactly what you’re working on and who you’re working with and what you’re trying to accomplish. So you would know what is best for your organization, but let’s say there’s [00:13:00] a campaign that you have to work on within your org and you know where you want to end, but you’re not really sure where to start.

Micro starts small. You don’t have to have the entire campaign thought out and solidified, and this is what it’s going to be. It’s a lot of work. Not that it’s not valuable, and sometimes that is likely what you’ll be asked to do, but if you have the gift of time, Think in the micro first. Okay, where are the small stories that I think tie to kind of the bigger impact we’re looking to have?

Oh, maybe it’s interviewing this employee, or maybe it’s peeking further into the campaign we did last year that might tie into this. Kind of working at that micro level first. Then, if you do that enough times, you oftentimes will have kind of that overarching micro story already built within itself. So that’s kind of the secret, right?

So you can work on the smaller stories initially, and that can be its own thing, but then you can harness those to create a bigger [00:14:00] story that Also becomes its own animal that then can feed into the bigger goal before you’re looking to do. I think sometimes people can get a little bit overwhelmed initially, and that might be a better way to break it up.

Jewels: Yeah. So, instead of trying to think of the big overarching theme necessarily straight up, if I’m hearing you correctly, start with those little stories that sort of a naturally there anyway. And see if a theme develops. So once you’ve done a handful, I guess, you might start to see some patterns, something sort of emerged that maybe you haven’t even thought about.

And then that sort of becomes its own macro story. Like that becomes a theme that overarches and then you can further develop smaller stories to further enhance it, right? 

Ciara Ocasio: Absolutely. That’s what I would say. That snowball effect, I’ve seen it happen on more than Three occasions, probably. It’s kind of just that thing that happens.

If you are doing good work and your organization is doing good work, those things happen naturally, which is helpful. 

Jewels: Yeah. So tell me a little [00:15:00] bit about that using those, you just said there that some of those micro stories or small short stories are good at, Attracting attention or gaining attention.

Tell me a little bit about that idea is because obviously there’s several parts to keeping the narrative going for people. So first you’ve obviously got to stop them in their tracks because we’ve got, there’s so much noise in the marketplace. There’s so much going on. There’s no lack of content in the, in, in the world, right?

So we’re constantly looking for the thing that’s going to grab our attention. Good man. Night. Seemingly is getting harder and harder because we’re scrolling faster and faster. We have less and less attention span when it comes to those micro stories. At least tell me a little bit about developing a short story, but still having enough impact, but somebody actually stops.

Ciara Ocasio: Ah, age old question. Right. And I will tell you now, I don’t have all the answers for it. And unfortunately, 

Jewels: damn, I was hoping you’d let me know, right? 

Ciara Ocasio: You would have like, something would come over me and it would just come out. [00:16:00] I think the answer for that is creating something relatable. What I’ve heard when I’ve researched kind of that same question is people like things that they can relate to, or people like things that they can put themselves in.

One of the biggest, not roadblocks, but one of the biggest comments I have when I’m working with people or questions is, who’s your audience for this? And more often than not, you’d be surprised. I hear, Oh, everybody. Or a huge group, or I said, well, if everybody’s your audience, nobody’s your audience. No, I’m not surprised.

Jewels: I’m not surprised because I hear that all the time. Yeah, it’s good. It works for everybody. It’s like, no, it doesn’t. 

Ciara Ocasio: Right, which is so fascinating, but they can keep saying that because it keeps me in a job. So I’m happy to explain to them why that’s not the most useful thing. But if everyone’s your audience and no one’s your audience, right?

So starting there, who am I really looking to capture with this? Like you said. There is a fight for people’s attention, so you’re not going to get everybody’s attention. I’ll [00:17:00] go back to TikTok as an example. It’s hot right now, and it’s easy to explain this concept. I’m often watching TikToks at 2x speed because I can’t even deal with the 1x speed anymore, which is a bad habit.

But, and again, if something doesn’t catch my attention right away, then I go on to the next thing. That’s what that platform is all about. But the things that I focus my time and attention on are things that either I think look fun, or things that make me laugh, or things that are relatable, or things that are beautiful.

But that is me. Again, TikTok is created with its algorithm, its magic algorithm. That’s what people love so much about it, is it was speaking directly to you, your for you page. So I think getting really honest with yourself about who your audience is for whatever you’re trying to accomplish. And getting curious about what is it they might want to see again, I don’t know exactly what that would be for you, but usually starting there is probably the best place to start, because you can’t really go wrong from there, I have found.[00:18:00]

Jewels: And that question in itself is something that is a hard one, right? It’s and it’s difficult to unpack. Because people are kind of afraid, you know, once you go from, it’s, this thing will work for everybody, I’m selling to everybody, and then trying to get them to pick one or two types of people, can be quite challenging for an individual, right?

Because you’re now saying, it’s not everybody, it’s only one or two types of people, which could narrow it down significantly, and it’s quite difficult. What sort of exercise or what sort of prompts can you give you? People out there may be listening that would that is in that same situation thinking if I had to niche down Where would I start like how do you niche down or niche down depending on where you come from?

Into something that is directly as you say it needs to be relatable to one person So somebody needs to feel like you’re talking to me And so the more narrow you get often the more feeling that you get that it actually is hitting the mark Well, that’s hard, right? So what sort of prompts would you give somebody listening?[00:19:00]

Ciara Ocasio: I am a big proponent in seeing where you’ve been to know where you’d like to go. So we’ve asked ourselves the question, okay, who is this for? So why don’t we go back and see who has either engaged with us already? Who are we doing well with already? Who are we trying to hit those same people? Or do we feel confident that that sect of people is already being communicated to?

Let’s say we’re confident that that sect of people is already being communicated to. So then let’s look at, okay, what margin of people are we not addressing? Who are we trying to speak to, but It just isn’t working as much as I love being creative and creativity. I really love numbers and data because the data doesn’t lie.

And when you have the numbers and the data, that gives you kind of that creative force to move forward and decide how you want to proceed. So you’ve identified who you haven’t been reaching, but you would like to. Then from there, maybe do a little bit of [00:20:00] research on. Who is similar to us that has been successful in this campaign?

Now we’re not going to do exactly what Google did or we’re not going to do exactly what Apple did or Dove body care. We don’t want to copy other people’s campaigns, but let’s see who was successful and let’s have a group conversation because I don’t think good work only happens in one mind. I think it takes a lot of people.

Let’s have a group conversation or ideation on Why do we think their campaign was successful? And I think those conversations start a lot at kind of like, well, they had this amount of money for the campaign or this is how it looked and that’s a good place to start. Right. But when you really start to boil it down, this campaign made people feel validated, or this campaign spoke to insecurities that this group of people has, you know, when you really kind of get to the feeling of it, Take all that back and then kind of build your own thing when you start at those base level things.

[00:21:00] My therapist is always trying to get me. What is it really? Like, let’s dig. And I’m like, I don’t know how. It can be a little harder to try to get down there and figure out what is this really doing to the person that is hearing it or watching it or reading it. at the core level. And I think a lot of magic happens there.

I hope that answered your question. Yeah, 

Jewels: no, it does. So in effectively, we keep asking the question, why? I guess, why is that working? Or why does that make a difference? Or why does it feel that way? Or What’s that bringing out for you, those kinds of questions to keep scratching past the obvious stuff, the obvious layers, and then keep going down until, like, as you say, get to the root of some of those reasons why it made you feel a certain way, which is interesting segue into a question I was going to ask is photography and videography is a very creative environment.

And in a entertainment perspective, and you sort of even mentioned there in TikTok, you’re, you’re looking, you know, personally looking for stuff that will kind of be fun or [00:22:00] entertaining or beautiful and that kinds of things. And we, we do tend, we can get lost in the creative aspect of it, to make it look beautiful, to make it have meaning and purpose, but in a business context, We’re always trying to take that from some sort of feeling or a moment in time that you’re having with or interacting with that piece of content.

But what we’re ultimately trying to do is get them to engage, right? To actually take a step or learn something from you or engage with you in some way, shape or form. How do you balance that when you Want to have these beautiful, creative moments and get to the roots and have those people feel what you’re trying to get them to feel.

But at the same time actually take, get them to engage, get them to actually do something about that. Because I think they’re quite different things. It’s one thing to look at something or laugh at something because it’s funny. And they tend to go viral, right? But does it actually translate or [00:23:00] can it translate for the average person, we’re not talking about the big plays here, the average business person who’s trying to get somebody to their website to buy something or to book an appointment or engage with me somehow, download something from me so they further understand who I am.

How do you bridge that gap? It’s a long question, I’m sorry, but. 

Ciara Ocasio: No, not at all. I think the answer to that is building trust. So, there is not going to be that perfect TikTok or that perfect video or image or story that I read that is going to convert me immediately, right? I need to feel that I trust whoever it is or whatever it is I’m engaging with.

That’s the goal. One of my, I feel like I have three secrets to kind of the work that I do. Building trust is a huge one. Constant curiosity is a huge one. And just listening is a really, really, really, really big one. I mentioned to you Jewels, before we [00:24:00] started the interview, I’m usually on the other side of this, I’m never in front of the camera and half of my job is the video production side.

And the other half is really just talking to people, listening to them and making them feel comfortable. And really what I’m doing, it’s building that trust with them so that they know when they are in front of my camera, that I’m going to do the best that I can to make them look professional and sound professional and just feel comfortable.

So you cannot underestimate that trust and it takes time to build. It’s not going to happen right away. But I think the answer for that is trust for sure. 

Jewels: It’s a really good answer and it is one that I use as well, right? Trust is a massive thing. That you must build, and it takes time, right? You don’t buy trust, you earn trust, right?

So it can take quite a bit of time. But it’s also very difficult to measure, right? So in a world of marketing, in a world of marketing when we’re measured by clicks and likes and web views and all sorts of other weird and [00:25:00] wonderful, what I call them vanity metrics, like they make us feel good, but they don’t necessarily translate.

Into anything, how do you measure trust or can you measure trust, or is it just something you’ve got to believe that will occur, assuming you do the right thing over a long period of time? 

Ciara Ocasio: That’s such a good question. And it’s funny, because that is a question that I’ve had in my own organization lately.

I do video production. All I have really to go off of our video views. And The vanity metrics, like you said, I’m actually going to use that when I talk to my boss next, because it’s that thing of, okay, how do you measure changed behavior? Cause that’s a lot of what I’m doing within its internal communications, right?

And I don’t really have the answer for that, but to your point of what you just said, I do believe in saying what you mean and meaning what you say as an org, as a brand, whatever, as an influencer, I feel if you do that. And continue to do [00:26:00] it, you will build that trust over time. I don’t see how you couldn’t.

So I’m trying to figure that out myself with the type of work that I do, but I think if you just keep doing the good work, it will build over time, definitely. 

Jewels: Something that popped out in your bio as well, was uncovering and sharing the narratives that already exist in our daily lives. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Ciara Ocasio: Sure. I hope I don’t get too heady about it because this is a topic that I can really start to sound a little hippy about, I think. But I was one to often say when I was more on the marketing side and not internal communications, I would tell everyone, everything is marketing. And I really do feel like everything is marketing, you know, the way you dress yourself for the day is marketing.

How your house is decorated is marketing the music you listen to. And I kind of feel that way about, you know, Stories also, they’re there and you can either cultivate them and use them in a way that’s going to be useful to you, or you can just kind of let them tell themselves and maybe they won’t be [00:27:00] as easily identifiable.

But I think it’s all around us. The sham. Wow. Commercial. That’s an incredible story. You know, if you remember that, it had such an impact and it was so strange, but there was something engaging about it. And you might, someone might not think about that as a story, but I think it is because I think. Almost anything can be when we started talking before our interview, you know, he asked me about the pronunciation of my name.

There is a story there of how I became to be named Ciara, you know, there was several names on the table. My parents couldn’t decide on one. My mom likes Sophia. My dad thought it was an old lady name, no offense to the Sophias out there. I think it’s a beautiful name. Sasha was another one. My dad didn’t like it.

And they finally settled on Ciara because of a perfume advert that they saw in a magazine. And my mom loved just the letters. Uh, C, the I, the A, R, A. She thought it was gorgeous. And it was a name that everybody was able to settle on. So, I mean, right there, [00:28:00] someone might not think how they came to be named as a story, but that’s very small one, but it’s, I think they’re everywhere.

I’m curious, do you feel the same way or do you have a different perspective? 

Jewels: I have absolutely the same view. I think, particularly in business, right? So in business, I think we can get a little bit lost in our own, uh, Desire to build something sort of magical, I guess, right? So if we do go down the path of let’s do some sort of video or some sort of narrative or whatever it may be We tend to think about stories as these mystical things that blockbuster movie kind of style Like it has to have all this action and stuff going on But the reality is that’s mostly fiction, right?

Like that’s the way you build a fictional story But in business, what we want to do is actually capture the essence of who we are and what it is we do and why we do certain things. So the stories that help generate all of those things within our business is the things [00:29:00] that people want to hear about in order for them to build that trust that we talk about, right?

So, And it’s actually, when you stop and think, that is far easier to capture something that’s already there, to something that’s already happening, rather than try and think of something fictional, which is actually not going to resonate with the audience because it has no meaning to you or them. Right.

So we don’t necessarily want to build something that’s has a fantasy element to it. Sure. We can be creative about it, but the actual root story really is about what is going on and about your customers and how they’re using your products and all those kinds of things. So the stories are definitely there.

What I think we’re not really good at is recognizing that, as you say, like the stories are, they just got to look for them. You’ve got to see them. And so one of the sort of little exercises I often talk about is to actually start capturing everyday events, even mundane things [00:30:00] initially, because what you’ll start to see is that most days, or if not at least Most weeks, something will happen in your organization that might not be a hundred page novel or anything.

It’s, but it is, could be one of those micro stories that just captured a moment. It could be an interaction with a customer or a conversation you’ve just had or an internal conversation or a whiteboard session that you’ve had with somebody that sparked an idea or something like that. All of those things are happening every day around you.

Once you start to see them and then capture them. Then you have content that you didn’t realize you had. And that can be an easy way to get into content building as opposed to having to think about something new all the time is to actually just document. I talk about document, document your every day.

And continue to document it. So I always have a camera I’ve got right now. I’ve got two cameras. One is the camera that we’re using to do this interview, but I’ve got a secondary camera on the side and that’s [00:31:00] my sort of capture camera. So that’s almost always running and recording because I’m always online.

I’m always having conversations with people. And so you never know when a piece of content might come out of my mouth or out of the person’s mouth, the other person’s mouth that that’s worth capturing. And it’s very difficult to repeat right after the event. If you ask me what I’ve just said, it’s like, Oh, I might remember most of it, but I won’t say it the same way and it won’t come out with the same intent.

Right. So you’ve got to capture it as it’s happening. So have a video in the corner of the white in the meeting room. If you’re doing a whiteboard session, have a camera there, or at least even a a recording device of some description so they can capture that moment. Right there. That’s where the stories come from.

Ciara Ocasio: That is so interesting. I never really thought about it from that perspective. I would imagine because it’s what I’m hired to do. So I am fortunate that a lot of the stories come to me and I’m just there to kind of spruce it up, clean it up and really make it something effective. [00:32:00] But that is a really good tip.

I’m going to keep that in the back of my mind. I like that. 

Jewels: So assuming there’s no privacy issues and those kinds of things, you don’t want to obviously capture a moment that you’re not supposed to, but with permission, Have a camera in the corner if you can, uh, particularly if you are in that kind of presentation mode too, like if you’re presenting something to a board or if you’re presenting something to a customer, that might be a really good opportunity to record that piece and just have a snippet of it.

Cause you might say something that’s 20 seconds long in an hour long presentation. And that 20 seconds becomes something that might, you know, Be useful, that could go up on LinkedIn or TikTok or wherever you choose to publish it, which again, says something about you, but also starts to build that trust.

Ciara Ocasio: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s natural too. That’s a great tip. 

Jewels: It’s very natural too. You don’t, you’re not consciously, cause I think a lot of people get quite frightened when if you turn up with a camera and all of a sudden there’s a camera six feet and four feet in front of me facing right at my [00:33:00] face and you’re asking me questions and I’m staring into a lens, that can be quite frightening for a lot of people.

And I get that people like freak out at that. And so they don’t become natural. They put on this persona because they think that’s what the camera requires. And we do need to. Amp up the energy for the camera because most people talk a little bit like me, a little bit monotone and tend to be very flat, but for the camera, you need to sort of amp up a little bit, but you don’t want to be so amped up that you just become somebody you’re not either.

And the words that come out of your mouth still have to be at you. 

Ciara Ocasio: Yeah. We don’t want ShamWow commercial. ShamWow commercial worked for that. It’s not, we’re not all trying to get that level of energy. Two things I wanted to just jump off of from what you just said. Customer testimonials. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

They are gold. If you have access to access to them, that might be a great first place to really start playing with that storytelling because just you can’t get much better than a customer testimonial. I just wanted to make, yes, I wanted to double [00:34:00] down on that because it’s so useful, but yet to your point of Having someone in front of my camera, I mentioned before I’m a full time video producer, but completely remote.

So I’m no longer in the room with said person when I’m interviewing them. And I cannot decide which was more difficult getting people comfortable. I think it actually might be like this. You would imagine that people within their own environment would feel more comfortable behind their own camera, their web camera.

But I think there was something to be said about being in the room with them and kind of. Having that authority that made people feel a little bit more comfortable, maybe because that was how business was done for many years and still is. Not everyone’s a remote video producer. A lot of video still takes place in person, but I think there was some familiarity to that that made people feel comfortable.

And now having to do this in a totally virtual space has been really exciting. I’ve really enjoyed it, but it’s come with its own set of challenges of building that trust and That [00:35:00] camaraderie with somebody that I maybe hadn’t met in person. And I have to build that in a very short amount of time to move forward.

One of the things we do to try to combat that is pre interviews. So that might also be a good tip for people if they’re kind of looking for that story. You would be shocked at the amount of information that comes out in that pre interview that we knew nothing about of like, wait a minute. That’s great information to know, like, I’m so glad we talked before we recorded, otherwise I never would have learned that you had 10 years experience as a volunteer firefighter.

That’s going to be great for this story. Or your family grew up working for this company too. We had no idea. And sometimes the subjects, I guess, just don’t fit. Have that storytelling cap on right. They, they maybe don’t think to mention it beforehand because they just don’t think about it as an important piece of information.

But us on the other side, we know that those details really, really add. So those pre interviews sometimes are God sends to the end product.

Jewels: Something I learned many years ago, I’ve done a little bit of video [00:36:00] production as well, just through, through the work that I do. I’m not, I’m not certainly not an expert.

So take this with a little bit of a grain of salt because I don’t do it sort of every day, but it is a trick that I learned that has served me very well ever since. One of the early productions that we did, it was the typical, somebody turned up to the, office and we set up in a meeting room and it was all very formal, lots of lights and cameras and whatever.

And they had, they had pre written themselves like a, you know, 10 questions, I think it was, of things that they wanted to say in this particular interview. And so we started this session and somebody asked question number one and they started saying it and they, God, they were so nervous and so inside their head.

That we asked the 10 questions and it was just awful. Like it was really, just really, really bad. And what I said was to the person sort of behind the camera, I said, look, let’s turn the camera off for a second and let’s just sort of warm up again. Like, let’s just start from scratch and [00:37:00] whatever. And so what they didn’t know is I didn’t actually turn the camera off.

I left the camera running. Right. And so then it just became a really cool thing. So I started asking them about themselves and a bit of their background and sort of that, as you say, that sort of pre interview kind of stuff. And I started to get them a little bit warmer. And then I sort of just through that process, once I felt like they were just getting a bit of breathing and they started to breathe in and out in that order kind of thing.

Once I felt that they were getting more and more comfortable, then I sort of said, well, okay, one of the questions that you wanted to explore was, Question I would ask the question and say, well, how would you ask that if I said it, if you were going to be upbeat about that? Or how would you ask if that was quite a serious topic?

How would you answer that? And they would sort of answer it sort of casually. Well, they didn’t realize I’m capturing every moment of it. And I would ask the question, but I might ask it three or four different ways, the same question, and they would just respond in a certain thing. I said, well, what if you had to sort of stand taller and sort of say it with a [00:38:00] bit of emphasis and like, if, as if you, you know, there was a stadium of, of 10, 000 people, how would you shout that out to, and I would just get them to say it in different ways until I felt like I’d captured that question enough ways.

And in post editing, we were able to slice and dice that however we wanted. And what they didn’t realize is that they were fabulous. By the end of it, they were so relaxed because after all of that, they said, okay, I’m ready. I think I want a caption. I said, no, it’s already done. We’ve done it all. We’ve been, we’ve actually been recording the whole time.

It’s only when the camera was on that you got nervous. Once the camera was off, you were fine and you became natural and you became who you were. And it was just a great little tip that I kind of learned on the fly many, many years ago. And I’ve used ever since, particularly for those people that are really nervous.

And for that, that’s most people don’t like being in front of the camera. They’re not natural. And so, yeah, just really relaxing them and having the camera supposedly off made a massive difference. So I [00:39:00] think 

Ciara Ocasio: it’s okay to be sneaky if it’s for the greater good. Yeah. Yeah. So you may say you’re not an expert, but what you just, the story you just told universal experience when it comes to video production, it happens constantly.

So to try to combat that in the virtual space, I do my very, very best to not send the questions ahead of time. Because I find that people will type out their answers, and because they’re virtual, one, they can pull them up and read them, which can sometimes mess with the eyeline, right? We want people, when they can, to look in the camera because it feels like you’re looking directly at who’s watching you.

So that’s one thing we try to avoid. The other reason I don’t like them writing out their answers is if they’re not reading it, they get very frustrated with themselves if they don’t deliver it perfectly. And And we’re not looking for perfection. We’re really just looking for them to share whatever it is we’re asking them to share.

So I try not to send the answers ahead of time. If they’re insistent, I’m not diligent about it. I’ll send them, of course, because it’s a [00:40:00] relationship that we’re trying to accomplish the same thing together. So I don’t completely deny people questions if they really would rather have them. But if they ask for them initially, I may resist a little bit and explain why.

And for the most part, people are happy to kind of move forward. And yeah, really just making people feel comfortable in the virtual space. It’s kind of that same thing. We use a platform called open reel, which I highly suggest if you are someone who does video production in a virtual space and I will click the record button and we just kind of leave it.

And some people forget that it’s going and we’re just chatting other people, you can do everything in the world and they still will just be on the more nervous side. And that’s when you just rely on your editors to really clean it up and make it sound as good as you can. And then you’ve got those folks that are just.

Wonderful on camera and you love them and they’re just the best. Then you keep their name in your back pocket from when you need something else done. You can work with them. 

Jewels: You are one of those people. You are fabulous. So thank you so much. Oh, 

Ciara Ocasio: thank you, . [00:41:00] I’m very nervous. I promise. 

Jewels: You’ve been an absolute pleasure and joy.

Just as a parting thought, for anybody who’s listening and is thinking, look, I should be doing more. Videography or I should be doing more content in general. What sort of parting tips would you give people just to get started? How, where would I start? I’m in business. I want to build a presence. I want to build that trust as you spoke about.

I haven’t necessarily got huge amounts of funds or a dedicated team necessarily, but I do want to get started. Where would you point them? What can they do to make a little difference? 

Ciara Ocasio: God, my brain is filling up with things to say. The first thing might sound a little counterintuitive, but video is not the answer to everything.

I have a lot of people that come to me saying we need a video for this thing. And when I get a little bit more information from them, I’m like, I don’t think video is the best fit for this. If you’re finding that your video is 80 percent words. That’s not a video. That’s a slideshow. The [00:42:00] video is not going to be the answer to all of your prayers.

So you have to first really ask yourself, why am I trying to do a video? What am I hoping it will accomplish? Once you solidify that, there’s so many different ways you can be successful, I think. If you have access to a smartphone, They’ve just gotten better and better and better when it comes to video and photography.

When I started my career in nonprofit work, talk about not having money or a team to do stuff. I wasn’t technically a media producer or a video producer there. I was a fundraiser, but if I wanted to raise funds, I had to create some content that was going to be compelling for people. I would say about a hundred and one percent of that content I created.

was with my iPhone creating video from that. There are a ton of free video editing apps also within the iPhone. It’s not my preferred way to do video production, but if you really are starting at a baseline and you just need something, that’s a good place to start. I will also [00:43:00] say viewers are more forgiving of subpar Video, as long as your audio is good.

That is the one thing that people really don’t negotiate on. And you can do an experiment for yourself. You could try to find a video that the video quality might not be that great, but you can hear everything and then try to find one where the video is exceptional, but the audio is not. You will find that you’re able to watch one over the other.

That’s something that not many people realize, but your audio is almost more important than like the crispness of your video. And I guess to end, I would say, just be curious. Be curious, keep asking yourself why, or how would this look if we did it this way, or if we did it that way. It will take you very, very, very far.

And if you’re working with somebody that wants to do a video, or if your boss has asked you to do a video, or what have you, another tool that I often use are other video examples. So, if I were to say, Jewels, can you think of the color blue for me right now? [00:44:00] You and I have two totally different colors in our minds, but we think we’re thinking about the same thing.

Right? So, and I’m thinking of something totally different. So really getting clear with the folks that you’re working with on what visually you’re trying to accomplish. So you can ask them, do you have visual example of kind of what you’re thinking of? And maybe not exactly how you want it to look, how you want it to feel.

Just getting more of a idea of exactly what people want to see. accomplished with the video, with the visuals will really set you up for success. That was kind of spitfire. I hope something was useful. I 

Jewels: think my key take out to that was you’ve probably got the tools you need, so don’t get hung up on having to go all out and buy all this stuff and set up and all that kind of stuff.

I think the tools are all there. You also have, as we discussed, if you start thinking about. Documenting and capturing the everyday, you’ve also got the stories to tell. You just need to [00:45:00] put those two things together, right? So use the tools that you’ve got, capture the moments as they occur, and possibly the only time and effort and energy that you need to put into it might be in that sort of editing.

If you can’t do the editing or you’re not good at the editing, it might pay to outsource that or get somebody who’s capable. And that could just be a family member or a staff person who’s kind of handy on the tools. It doesn’t have to be an actual cost, but you’ll find that you’ve got everything you need.

The hardest bit Is forming a new habit because to me this is like a habit that you actually want to form and it’s a little bit like going to the gym, right? You don’t all of a sudden go from sitting on the couch to gymming two hours a day, five, six days a week. Right. Or if running a marathon, you don’t just suddenly get off the couch and run a marathon.

Everything is a builder and it’s a process of getting better and better and further and further and more consistent and more often. Right. So don’t try and start out too big, [00:46:00] right? Just do a little bit, do one a week. If that’s, if that works for you or one a fortnight, even if that’s okay, ultimately you want to get to.

Better frequency and more consistency in that, but it’s hard work, right? So you’ve got to form that habit as well as being able to capture those moments along the way. 

Ciara Ocasio: Absolutely. And even before you get to the doing part of it, if you just kind of take stock within yourself and ask, not the fiction stuff, like we said, like the nonfiction, maybe a documentary or something on LinkedIn, what am I seeing that is making me respond and why?

You can just start there and that might be a good place to kind of start the habit a little bit. And also, yeah, people that you know in your life that you think are creative, or if you want to DM me, feel free, happy to talk about this all day. The people are around you and I ultimately feel that people want other people to succeed.

So if you go into it with that mindset, I think you’ll be good. [00:47:00]

Jewels: Ciara, you’ve been absolutely fabulous. I’ve totally enjoyed our conversation. Where can the listener find out a little bit more about you? 

Ciara Ocasio: I am on almost everything with just my first and last name. Kept it very honest in that way. So Ciara Ocasio, C I A R A O C A S I O on the things.

And I would love to connect. 

Jewels: Fabulous. I’ll put links to those in the show notes. Thank you so much. I’ve enjoyed it immensely. 

Ciara Ocasio: Thank you. It’s been wonderful. 

Jewels: Cheers. I love Ciara’s tip. If you’re struggling to know where to start, start from the micro stories, which may illuminate the bigger themes. I also love Ciara’s big three, trust, constant curiosity, and listening.

Much love. Chat soon.

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