The pandemic era has inspired communications professionals to find new ways to connect leaders with employees, customers and other stakeholders. With remote and hybrid work now permanently part of our lives, videos, webchats and remote media interviews are critical items in our executive communications toolkits. As a former news producer, I cringe at poorly shot videos. Here’s the good news: there are easy and inexpensive ways to put professional polish on your (or your executive’s) appearances from home.
Get a studio-quality set-up. It used to be an expensive proposition to set up a home studio. Not anymore. With about $50 and Amazon Prime, you can send your CEO everything she needs for good quality lighting and sound. Look for a ring light with a built-in tripod, and think about adding a unidirectional mic. That’s all it takes to look and sound your best in employee messages and media interviews. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle shares great tips on Twitter for how your leader can put her best face forward. (The camera elevation is so important!)
Of course, there’s an app for that. If your executive needs to deliver a scripted message, turn his smart phone into a teleprompter. There are a number of apps to choose from, but so far I’ve enjoyed experimenting with BIGVU. It puts a prompter on the same screen used for filming, and then lets you do post-production editing and graphics. I love that the text on the prompter encourages correct eye placement for the camera. Just remember to coach your leader not to “track” — or move his eyes from side to side as he reads.
Your teens are your production team. If you’ve got middle or high schoolers, enlist them as videographers, editors and even makeup artists. Most kids these days have some level of skill with video production, thanks to Instagram, TikTok and YouTube
Keep it real. It’s so important for leaders to show empathy, and one way to do that is through visual cues. Polished does not mean over-produced or stuffy. Show that you’re in this together. Encourage your executive to dress casually, wear simple makeup, and sit at the kitchen table — or even in the backyard. If a pet or child wanders through while filming, chances are there’s no need for a retake. (As Adam Grant put it, “We’re all BBC dad now.”) It’s all just part of embracing new remote and hybrid work models.
My son helped me set up a test shoot at home this morning. It took us only a few minutes to get ready. And as with anything, practice will make perfect.
But leaders don’t have to be perfect right now. They just have to be willing to lead and to connect. World events are forcing us to be more agile — and more honest — than ever. I love seeing the creative ways we’re continuing to adapt. Reach out with your ideas.
By Melissa Mathews (Originally published on LinkedIn)