How to Captivate the Crowd
with Elaine Williams
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Are you using video in your business? If not, it is time to get started! In this episode, Caterina welcomes award-winning Video & Visibility Coach, Speaker, Best Selling Author and Comedian, Elaine Williams. Elaine shares how her journey led her from selling candy as a child to becoming a comedian, to now coaching mission-based female entrepreneurs to help them harness the power of video. Don’t miss this episode with great super tips to help you look your best on camera and deliver your message in a way that captivates your crowd!
Elaine Williams is an award-winning Video & Visibility Coach, Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Comedian with credits like Saturday Night Live, America’s Got Talent, The New York Times, Hay House Radio & the Huffington Post.
Elaine’s clients have gone from never doing video or speaking live to having their own YouTube Channels, doing International Book Tours, and speaking for NASA. Her clients go from awkward to awesome on camera and the stage.
Connect with Elaine
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Expand Your Fempire Podcast #67 Transcript
How to Captivate the Crowd
with Elaine Williams
Welcome to Expand your Fempire with Caterina Rando, the podcast for women in business on a mission. Sharing ideas to support you to grow and thrive. Now here’s your host, Caterina Rando.
[00:00:24] Caterina Rando: My friend, welcome back to another episode of the Expand Your Fempire Podcast. I am blissing to be with you today, because you know what? We have the most fun, amazing, super smart guest that you are so going to be excited to get to know better, Elaine Williams! Elaine, thank you so much for being with us today.
[00:00:50] Elaine Williams: Wow thank you, Caterina. I’m honored to be on your Fempire podcast.
[00:00:55] Caterina Rando: Yay. Now here’s what I know. You are a comedian. You are a speaker. You are a great teacher. You help people with their speeches. You help them do great on video. First question though, Elaine, how did your entrepreneurial journey begin?
[00:01:16] Elaine Williams: Wow, thank you, I love that question. You know, my parents divorced when I was four and we moved to San Antonio and I was a Campfire Girl. And that was actually my very first commercial, I did with the dancing donkey. And so we used to go door-to-door selling Campfire candy, and I was the number one sales girl in San Antonio one year.
[00:01:38] Caterina Rando: You have to say, what was one or two of your super tips for selling a ton of –was it cookies, Campfire cookies?
[00:01:47] Elaine Williams: It was Campfire candy. So it was different. It was different than the Girl Scout cookies. And I had the cutest little sister ever. You know, I went through a lot of awkward stages, but my little sister was always just gorgeous, with these huge big blue eyes and super blonde hair. And she, I think she was like my secret weapon. Cause people would see us together and be like “Oh, okay, I’ll buy.”
[00:02:12] Caterina Rando: Okay. Maybe she was your secret weapon, but you got to tell me my friend, at least one thing that you know did it.
[00:02:19] Elaine Williams: Well, I think I believed in the product. I love chocolate. And I think I was, you know, I was too young to be too in my head. And my mom helped too, so…support!
[00:02:33] Caterina Rando: Love it. Okay, so that was your first positive sales experience, right?
[00:02:39] Elaine Williams: Right.
[00:02:40] Caterina Rando: Okay. What, by the way, what did you win when you were the number one Campfire girl salesperson?
[00:02:45] Elaine Williams: I think I got like a ribbon.
[00:02:47] Caterina Rando: A ribbon?? That’s it? Okay.
[00:02:48] Elaine Williams: This is in the seventies.
[00:02:52] Caterina Rando: Okay. Well, that’s okay though, because it left a good impression on you for sales.
[00:02:57] Elaine Williams: Right.
[00:02:58] Caterina Rando: Tell me more about your entrepreneurial journey.
[00:03:00] Elaine Williams: My parents divorced when I was four and my father remarried this crazy lady. And so I was always trying to like get out of the house to get away from her. So I started working when I was 12, I would do like juice bar stuff. I worked at camp at my Camp Kickapoo. I was a table server there. And I was always, you know, just looking for ways to have my own money. I wanted to have my own money. And I started a house-sitting business when I was in high school, and then did it in Austin too. And I just remember always wanting to be independent from my family and have my own money.
[00:03:41] Caterina Rando: Love it. Now, I don’t know the answer to this Elaine. Did you ever have a j-o-b, or have you always been an entrepreneur?
[00:03:48] Elaine Williams: Oh, I’ve always had lots of side hustles and quite a few j-o-b’s. You know, I started out waitressing, and I was at the University of Texas, and midway through my freshman year my dad and my stepmother said “we’re not going to pay for you anymore. You have to move home.” And I was like “I’m not going back to this crazy lady.”
[00:04:09] And so my best friend was like “we’re going to get jobs at Chili’s. I’m going to share my car with you.” And I’m so grateful Caterina because I didn’t know I could do it, but she believed in me. And so we lived in this cheap dorm that looked like a prison. It was like gray, cinder blocks. It was like 300 bucks for the summer. And we worked at Chili’s. And I learned, you know, at 19, like first you pay your rent, then you buy your beer, you know? So it was a crash course.
[00:04:38] Caterina Rando: Well, I love that. And you know, I love that you said that your friend believed in you, even when you didn’t think you could do it. And really, I feel that that’s our job with all of our clients: to hold a bigger vision for them than they hold for themselves. And, you know what’s amazing? Is when they start to believe what we believe, then it actually happens and they start to have it in their life. I love that. I love that.
[00:05:07] Now I know that you are a comedian, you’ve been a comedian. I know you were on the college speaking circuit. Give us a little bit more info on that.
[00:05:17] Elaine Williams: Okay. Sure. Just to back up a little bit, you know, I was in Texas and I had graduated. I was on the eight-year plan. And I had graduated, and you know how you say “I’ll be happy when….” So I was always like, “I’ll be happy when I’m acting full-time, when I have this, when I have that.”
[00:05:33] And so I’m in this place in my life in ’97 and I’m doing back-to-back shows, I’m getting rave reviews. I work at the best restaurant. I have beautiful house-sitting houses that I take care of in Westlake, on the same street as Michael Dell. And I was miserable.
[00:05:49] And thank God, my friend invited me to the Landmark Forum, that was my first experience of transformation and I had a spiritual awakening. And so I did more of those courses and I was able to forgive my dad and my stepmother, which was huge.
[00:06:04] And I decided I had to move to New York. I had been dreaming of it. So I finally moved to New York. Got sober at the same time, which I would never recommend, but that’s how I did it. And so I’m like trying to figure out New York City, waitressing, whatever. And luckily I kind of fell into comedy.
[00:06:26] I thought I was supposed to be doing musical theater. That’s what I grew up, singing, dancing, “waaah”, but New York City is like the Olympics of singing. So even though I worked in Texas my whole life as a singer, in New York City, I couldn’t get arrested.
[00:06:40] But people kept saying, “you’re really funny. You should try comedy.” And I was like, “what do you mean?” Like, I was so intense. And so I had all these people that kept saying “you got to try comedy, you got to try comedy.” And I was terrified, but that’s how I started.
[00:06:57] I wasn’t very good in the beginning Caterina. It’s one thing to be funny off the cuff, I’m sure you know. It’s a whole other thing to stand on a stage with a mic by yourself. And I was taking this class and I was not having fun. I would come home and eat ice cream and cry and like ” what am I doing?” So I thought “just finish the damn class. Just go to the show. Expect no laughs. Just finish it.”
[00:07:23] So I’m doing my set, and when I got to my family, my dysfunctional family stuff, people were like bent over howling. And I have this moment of like, “oh my God.” Like a-ha moment. Like my life made sense for the first time. Like, “oh, I’m supposed to help people, maybe people who won’t go to the Forum or do therapy or workshops, but maybe they’ll get healed from listening to me tell my stories and my sort of journey.”
[00:07:56] And so I didn’t fully understand it, but I just kept following my gut and my heart. And out of that, I started doing life coach training with Debbie Ford, and then I started going to Toastmasters because I knew how to perform, but I didn’t know how to speak as Elaine.
[00:08:14] So I started all of this in like 2004 and then I kind of fell into the speaking circuit. I wanted to do comedy on the college level, but luckily my agent was like, “Elaine, you’re going to be up against people who’ve been on the Tonight Show 10 times. Like, you’re funny, but you’re not, you don’t have those chops yet.”
[00:08:33] And then she said “but didn’t you have all those addictions.” And I had three addictions: food, drug, alcohol. So I came in as the funny “eating disorder girl.” And that’s how I got into the college market. And then my topics kept morphing. I always feel like business is a little bit like the blob, you know, there’s no straight line. It’s a little bit like this and then like this.
[00:08:55] Caterina Rando: I don’t think I’ve heard that before: “business is kind of like a blob.” Okay. Well, I would say that, you know, business is very dynamic. Like, you can go all over the place and you can pivot. And I think that you’ve done a great job with embracing Clubhouse and embracing virtual teaching. And I know you have groups and you work with people one-on-one.
[00:09:21] Now, Elaine, let’s give everybody some super tips for being on video, or super tips for their speaking with humor. Because one of the things that I have the privilege of doing is you and I host some rooms on Clubhouse. Everybody come and join us.
[00:09:39] Elaine Williams: Yes it’s fun.
[00:09:40] Caterina Rando: Yes. Now, if you’re not in the Thriving Women in Biz club on Clubhouse, come and hang out with us and join. Elaine, what’s the name of your club also?
[00:09:49] Elaine Williams: Captivate the Crowd.
[00:09:51] Caterina Rando: What a great name, Captivate the Crowd. Those are two clubs you’re going to want to join on Clubhouse. And Elaine’s rooms are always super fun. I love co-modding with you. Let’s give them some super tips.
[00:10:05] Elaine Williams: Yes. So I always want to remind people, nobody likes how they look on video. You know, I hear that a lot: “I hate the way I look.” And so I love the serenity prayer. Like, yes, you know what, you want to get your colors done, get your hair done.
[00:10:20] But you know, you want to have a decent angle. I like to have the camera slightly above my eyes, so the angle is important. A lot of people still put the camera below and that’s just not good for anybody, even if you’re like a supermodel.
[00:10:33] You want to have the lights coming towards your face. You don’t want to be backlit. Although I know I have a little bit of backlight going on. But you want to have more light coming in front of you.
[00:10:44] And part of doing it is just getting used to how you look on camera. So I tell people “get a video buddy” and send each other videos on your phone. You can start a private Facebook group with you and some buddies and just get used to talking. You can, like, tell a favorite story, or talk about something that you’re very passionate about, like saving the whales, puppies, like whatever. Part of it is just getting used to, like, “this is how I look”, you know?
[00:11:13] I always remind myself, I’m not trying to be the ingénue supermodel, 20-something that I was aspiring for in New York. I’m trying to be the best version of me.
[00:11:25] And then another great tip, and I know you talk about this, Caterina, is connecting with your “why,” right? Like, if you remember the reason you started your business and the reason you want to make a difference with your life and your work, that is bigger than any sort of flyaway hair or imperfect eyeliner.
[00:11:46] Caterina Rando: Yes. Elaine let’s remember: people are not coming to you or me or most of our listeners for style and beauty advice. I’m sure I have some people that are style enthusiasts or style consultants like me that listen to this. Still though, people are interested in “how can you help me?” They’re not interested in how many lines are on our face. Right?
[00:12:11] Elaine Williams: Right.
[00:12:11] Caterina Rando: Now, the other thing I do want to mention is: you know, sometimes people interview me on Streamyard and I never look as good on Streamyard because on Zoom, I use those Zoom studio effects and I want to make sure everybody knows about the Zoom studio effects. They add lipstick, they add eyebrows. I think there’s some other exciting effects. Everybody, if you’re using Zoom, do check out the studio effects because it does give you a little enhancement.
[00:12:46] Elaine Williams: Yes. Yes. That’s a great tip.
[00:12:49] Caterina Rando: Okay. So we’ve talked about the lighting. We’ve talked about the angle. Yes. Always. The camera is above your chin, but also I like to say it’s above your hairline so that you are going to look better. The lighting is very important. A lot of people make a mistake on that. I like to say, this is a Feng Shui thing, that you want to have a solid wall behind you. I know everyone’s setup is different. That’s my recommendation.
[00:13:20] Elaine I’m not sure if you know, I’m an image enthusiast. I went to fashion school for a year. I avoid wearing prints on video. Okay, good. Okay. Let me have you keep going, my friend, what else?
[00:13:33] Elaine Williams: That’s such a great point. Yeah, less is more. The earrings you’re wearing are great, but they’re, they’re not bright red. You want people to be focusing on the value that you’re giving, the points, the story, the case study, the a-ha. Anything that you’re delivering. And so, you know, you just want to keep things… I like neutral.
[00:13:55] Like, yes, your background is great. I’m short and curvy, so I don’t need ruffles or patterns. There’s enough going on with just plain. And I also think jewel tones are great. Most people look great in teal, a rich green, a deep blue, a purple you can’t go wrong with some of those.
[00:14:17] Caterina Rando: And my friend, I’ve noticed this whole interview, you have not once touched your hair, which is great. And that is my pet peeve that I want ladies to be aware of. This is why I always pull my hair on the side or back. Because a lot of ladies are touching their hair the whole time and it might be a nervous twitch. They might not even be aware of it. Anyway, okay, that’s my little…
[00:14:41] Elaine Williams: That’s a good point. No, it’s good.
[00:14:43] Caterina Rando: Now we’ve talked about the visual, okay? Which I know you’re quite the expert at. What you’re super the expert at is infusing some humor in your talk, keeping it uplifting, keeping it fun. Let’s have you share some ideas here.
[00:14:59] Elaine Williams: Okay. Love that too. So I believe most people have the potential to be funny. You don’t have to become a comedian, but the people who kind of can release their natural funny, it’s because they’re comfortable. So the first step is to just start doing more videos. You can do practice Zooms. You want to get used to “ this is how I am on camera, and okay, so my hair looks this way”, you know, just getting used to it and feeling comfortable will help open you up.
[00:15:30] And then there are so many great little ways you can, you know, the rule of three, I talked about this the other day. When I first started writing comedy, I was like “aghhh!”, so I gave myself permission to write a really simple joke. So I say “Oh, New York City in the summer, the sun on my face, the wind on my back, the smell of pee everywhere.” So that’s an example of like, you’re taking somebody this way and then on the third thing, you go that way. If you watch Stephen Colbert, he does it all the time.
[00:16:01] Also if you want to have more fun, I encourage you to start watching comedy and humorous things at least five minutes a day. It will bring more energy. You will be breathing more and the more you can lighten up, the more fun you’re going to have. And then the more fun your viewers can have too.
[00:16:21] Caterina Rando: Love that. It’s true because if you’re a super nervous speaker, guess what? Your audience can feel that. If you’re a super fun speaker, if you’re comfortable, if you’re happy, your audience can feel that too. The more you’re blissing when you’re talking, the more they’re going to be uplifted. The more that vibe is contagious.
[00:16:45] Love that, Elaine. And I love the idea of watching the comedians on late-night television. And you can record it if it’s too late for you.
[00:16:55] Elaine Williams: Right, right, right.
[00:16:56] Caterina Rando: And yeah, to watch them with some analysis in your brain will really help you to see what they’ve done.
[00:17:05] Elaine explained to everybody what a callback is, because I think that’s really good for getting a little humor in also.
[00:17:13] Elaine Williams: Okay. And you know what I love about callbacks? It’s like an inside joke. So let’s say you’re at an event and the MC is talking and let’s say there’s somebody in the back of the room and, and they drop a glass of water or something. And the MC could say, all right, “put that anywhere” just trying to add some humor to it. And then the next person gets up later on and they could say, “oh, putting water anywhere.”
[00:17:43] A callback is when you acknowledge something that happened previously. And it usually gets a huge laugh because it’s like the audience has become a community and it’s like an inside joke.
[00:17:57] We love being on the inside, right? And to me, comedy is about being awkward and feeling like you don’t belong, which is such a human thing. So when you can do something that you’ve all experienced together as a community, it just makes it like the cool club, like the cool kids.
[00:18:18] Caterina Rando: Elaine, every time I’m with you, you are having fun. You are enjoying yourself. When you’re presenting, you’re enjoying yourself. How do we help those listeners that, they get the value of speaking, they get the value of teaching, using our voice, teaching to be of service. But they’re just not having fun at it yet like you?
[00:18:46] Elaine Williams: That is such a great point, Caterina, I must confess that when I first started –I’ve been a coach for 16 years– but when I first started Captivate the Crowd, I was not having fun. So I want to be really vulnerable because I hope it will help people.
[00:19:05] I was in this place of force and push. You know, there’s stretching and then there’s stretching so far, you’re falling on your face. And I had stretched myself –like I was like Gumby– and it was too much.
[00:19:20] So I was showing up, like “I gotta get this right. I gotta make this work. I need clients.” I was in this place of seriousness and desperation and force and push, which is so opposite of my personality.
[00:19:37] And part of it was, I didn’t have a side hustle. I felt all this pressure. So thank God I have so many great coaches and mentors and I kept doing my spiritual work. And then I realized, you know, “Elaine, this is how you were in the beginning of comedy. Like I gotta be funny.” And it’s like, nothing can be creative, you know? So it’s just like “whoa, whoa, whoa.” So I kind of pulled myself back and I said “what do you tell your clients, Elaine,” to lighten up. “Lighten up Ethel.”
[00:20:06] So I started listening to my own coaching and I took some of the pressure off myself. I ended up getting a side hustle so that I wasn’t desperate. And I started really trying to have fun with it. And some self-compassion.
[00:20:22] You know, a lot of people are good at the business stuff and the video speaking stuff is scary to them. To me, the speaking video stuff is my comfort zone, but the business stuff is like “aghhh!” So I’ve been really working on that.
[00:20:37] I would just encourage anybody- if you feel like you’re suffering, maybe, put some meditation or breathing around it. Maybe, give yourself some self-compassion. Whatever you’re working on, it doesn’t have to be rocket science.
[00:20:53] And I take the work that I do very seriously. To me, one-on-one coaching is like the most sacred thing. And group coaching. So I take that seriously, but I tried to not take myself so seriously. Because I’m already intense. I don’t need to ramp that up.
[00:21:13] So, if you’re not having fun, I would just encourage you to see where you could bring some lightness, some breath. You know, can you watch some comedy before you start a video? That’s what I do.
[00:21:24] Caterina Rando: That’s great advice. Let’s hang out, Elaine, where you were discussing self-compassion. Because so many of our high-achieving women listeners, they want to get it right. And right is like perfection. It’s a tough place to get to. What I always like to say is, look, “are you bringing massive value?” If you’re bringing massive value, that’s your job. It doesn’t have to be right. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to follow the agenda you thought it was going to follow, as long as your people are getting value and you’re having fun. Cause you’re supposed to have fun. That is what matters. Self-compassion. Love it.
[00:22:10] Elaine, let’s tell everybody how they can get in touch with you. What have you got going on? Because you are someone everyone’s going to want to connect with.
[00:22:22] Elaine Williams: Oh, thank you. Thank you for the question, Caterina. That’s one reason I love how you just give so many people voice. You’re being loud and proud and inviting your community to be loud and proud as well. Check out my “Confidence on Camera Checklist” on my website, which is captivatethecrowd.com. If you put in your name and email, that way we’ll be connected and you can hear all about all the things that I do. I do a “21 Easy Ways to Create Content” live video. I do improv for speakers. I do “How to Rock Your Videos.” I do a lot of masterclasses. So as long as we’re connected, you will be able to find me.
[00:23:03] Caterina Rando: Great. And remember to join Elaine’s club “Captivate the Crowd” on Clubhouse. Make sure you’ve joined the Thriving Women in Biz club. Elaine often is joining me there. What I want you to do after our time with Elaine is take something that she has shared and incorporate it right away.
[00:23:24] Maybe it’s the callback. Maybe it’s the power of three. Maybe it’s the self-compassion. Maybe it’s turning your lights on in front of you and not behind you! Whatever it is. Take something and get started today. Because, my friend, you have massive value to bring, just like Elaine. There’s a lifetime supply of people to serve. Go get busy so you can sell more, serve more, and uplift more lives. Bing, bing! Elaine, thank you so much for being here.
[00:23:59] Elaine Williams: Thank you for having me, Catarina. Can’t wait to do it again.
[00:24:03] Caterina Rando: Everybody come back next time for more ideas to Expand Your Fempire. Bing, bing, bing!
We hope you enjoyed this episode of Expand Your Fempire with Caterina Rando.