Authenticity Counts: 11 Tips for Leaders to Be Yourself On Camera

Video is one of the most effective tools for leaders today. It’s not simply a way to share the latest news; it’s a way to call people to action. But in order for employees and stakeholders to heed your call, they first need to connect with you. So, how do you put your best face forward? (Hint: it’s all about being yourself.) 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 nice. Whether you’re talking to stakeholders or employees, your viewers want to connect with you. Start with a warm greeting. If you choose an off-camera interview format, eye contact goes a long way to connect with viewers.

3. Show presence and utilize body language. Embrace your individuality. Relax. Act natural. Show confidence. And think carefully about what to wear (a stockholder announcement calls 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 (it’s the mark of a strong leader). So be mindful, be in the moment, and listen.

5. Display accessibility. As the leader of a company, you run the risk of seeming distant to your employees. You can bridge that gap by showing people how ready you are to listen in a roundtable or one-on-one interview. 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? Or other big changes? It’s important to address these issues. Otherwise you run the risk of seeming disinterested in your employees’ welfare.

9. Tell the truth. Be pragmatic and honest. Your audience 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 objective? Do you plant 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. Dispel wonkiness. Don’t try to impress with “inside baseball” talk, like convoluted operational terms. If you use terms that everyone will understand, you’ll connect with your employees as a fellow human being.

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 performance since he took charge. He’s clearly on his way to creating a lasting legacy as a great leader.

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“It’s one thing to understand the role of video in business communication, it’s another to know how to use video to solve actual business problems. Vern Oakley gets that.”


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