Finding Your Groove on Camera

Ultimately, the only way to find your groove on camera is to test a few approaches (ideally well before filming!) until you feel comfortable. As you work on finding your sweet spot, your authenticity as a leader will shine through when your performance embodies most, if not all, of these elements.

Choose Your Best Communication Style

Work with an outside director or your trusted advisors if you are planning your first video as a new leader. Carefully consider and choose a communication style you are most comfortable with.

This could be an off-camera interview, where the interviewer is not seen and the questions are not heard. Only the speaker appears on camera, guiding the story forward with their answers interwoven with b-roll. If you’re comfortable with the on-camera interview, you can use the opportunity to re-create a face-to-face experience for viewers.

You can demonstrate how accessible you are by the mode of communication you choose. A roundtable can serve to display that you are open to others’ ideas. An on-camera interview can show your warmth as you interact with your interviewer. You can also use your on-camera appearance to mention how you can be reached, and that when you are contacted, you will listen carefully.

First Impressions Matter

Give a warm greeting. Stakeholders are used to hearing warm and sincere greetings from political leaders, talk show hosts, and news anchors on television. They’ll expect some warmth from you as well.

Use Body Language to Send Deeper Messages

Your workforce will respect you as a leader if you show confidence on video. Lean in every so often. Don’t be afraid to move naturally, shifting your weight, pausing to look at the camera or viewer when appropriate.

Discuss what you plan to wear with your director beforehand. What’s appropriate garb for stockholders may not be the same outfit you should have on to address employees. Do you need to wear a tie when you are sending out a holiday greeting?

Make sure you are comfortable with the way you look. You want to be you, not someone you think you should be.

Be Receptive to Feedback from Your Team

If you are in a back and forth on-camera interview or taking questions during a webinar, show you are a good listener. Everyone, especially employees, needs to know that their leaders take their opinions and points of view seriously and are fully engaged listeners.

Ramp up your mindfulness. Be in the moment and listen.

Use Humor to Set the Tone

High-performance organizations staffed by dedicated, hard-working employees can be stressful environments. And while stress can be a good motivator to do great work, a little humor from the boss can take the edge off and go a long way to making work fun again. As a leader, remember, you set the tone.

Show Vulnerability

Showing vulnerability does not equate to showing weakness. Consider sharing some trial or personal story that relates to a pivotal moment in your career.

Vulnerability can be a powerful and effective driver of employee engagement because it lets viewers see that they’re working for a warm-blooded human who is not afraid to  show his or her faults.

Address the Elephant in the Room

Often a new leader is hired because there has been a sea change. Sometimes these changes can mean layoffs for hundreds or even thousands of employees. Perhaps a merger is in the air or there’s a rumor of one.

Whatever the case, you would be wise to get a briefing from your communications team as to what your people are concerned about before you create your video. Ignoring issues of concern can be interpreted as arrogance or, worse still, a disinterest in the welfare of your people.

Honesty is the Best Policy

A true leader never lies. Shape your communication to be pragmatic and honest. A merger, for instance, is a financial transaction that could benefit shareholders. If the leader says it’s good for everybody, many know that it is not necessarily true for them. Some people may lose their jobs, and those who remain will face new bosses and changes in the system.

The more you acknowledge the hard truths, the more appreciative your audience will be.

Reinforce the Objective of Your Message

If you are introducing yourself for the first time, is that really your only objective? Sure, people need to know who you are and what excites you. But if they know a big change is coming, they will want some reassurances that you are fully aware of its implications. You can also use this first on-camera appearance to bring up a specific project or change you want to implement. But above all, keep it simple.

Avoid Insider Jargon

Some leaders pepper their addresses with “inside baseball” talk. Avoid this as much as possible. Don’t mistake the use of convoluted operational terms and acronyms as a way to show people you “get it.” All you will end up showing them is that you are not trying to connect as a fellow human being.

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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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