Video is one of the most effective tools for leaders. The best CEO videos are not simply a way to share the latest news; they’re a way to call people to action. Before employees and stakeholders heed your call, they first need to connect with you. Here are 11 tips on how to be authentic on camera or, as we like to say, how to find your groove.
1. Choose your best mode. Some leaders prefer to talk directly to an interviewer. Others like to respond to someone who is off screen. Or perhaps you’d rather deliver a message straight to the camera, without the Q & A. There’s no right answer. It’s just important to pick the mode that suits you.
2. Make a genuine connection. Whether you’re talking to stakeholders or employees, your viewers want to connect with you. Start with a warm greeting. If you choose an on-camera interview format, eye contact with the interviewer goes a long way to connect with employees.
3. Show presence and utilize body language. Embrace your individuality. Relax. Act natural. Show confidence. And think carefully about what to wear (an employee training video or stockholder announcement call for a different wardrobe choice than a company-wide holiday greeting).
4. Be sure to listen. If you’re being interviewed, it’s important to show everyone that you’re a good listener (one of the hallmarks of a strong leader). So be mindful, be in the moment, and listen.
5. Show accessibility. As the leader of a company, you run the risk of seeming distant. You can bridge that gap through authentic video communication to employees. It helps to show a willingness to listen.. Or go one step further and let your employees know how to contact you directly.
6. Use humor. In a high-performance environment stress is often part of the job and can even be a good motivator to do great work. However, a little humor from the boss can take the edge off and go a long way to making work fun again.
7. Show vulnerability. Vulnerability isn’t a weakness; it’s a strength. By opening up and sharing a personal trial that helped shape your career, you can show your employees that you’re human and you aren’t afraid to acknowledge your faults.
8. Address the elephants in the room. Are your employees worried about layoffs? A merger? Other big changes? These issues should be addressed in your CEO video message. Otherwise, you run the risk of seeming disinterested in your employees’ welfare.
9. Tell the truth to your audience. Be pragmatic and honest. Employees watching your video message will be more engaged and more likely to follow a call to action if you acknowledge hard truths.
10. Reinforce the objective. What’s your point? Do you plan to implement something new? Talk about a specific project? Reassure employees that you understand the implications of a big change? Once you’ve figured it out, stay on message, and, above all, keep it simple.
11. Don't use business-speak or buzzwords. Don’t try to impress with “inside” talk, using convoluted operational terms. If you use terms that everyone will understand, your CEO video will connect with employees as fellow human beings.
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Now let’s put these tips to the test. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made a bold choice for the video that introduced him to the company’s employees. He had to show almost 130,000 employees worldwide that he was the leader they’d been waiting for. How do you think he did?
In our opinion, he aced the test. Sure, his delivery isn’t perfect, but that just makes him all the more human and authentic. In just one short video he set the tone for the company’s impressive trajectory. He’s clearly on his way to creating a lasting legacy as a great leader.