How to avoid every marketer’s nightmare: the terrible executive ruining your corporate video
These days a substantial proportion of the 6 billion monthly You Tube downloads are actually business videos. While video has been proven to be a highly effective communication tool for businesses of all sizes and also a very cost effective one, with one piece of content reaching many viewers, unless the people appearing in the video come across in an engaging and open way, the video will not help your organisation. As the person in charge of marketing, and therefore the video, it is you who is responsible that the spokespeople look and sound good.
Research suggests that how people look and behave on screen has a much bigger impact than what they actually say: it’s not what you say, but how you say it, and how you look saying it! So how do you get the best out of the spokesperson that is appearing in your video, representing your company?
What you see from most presenters and celebrities on TV doesn’t come naturally. They’ve learnt how to feel comfortable in front of a camera. Feeling assured on-screen takes practice but there are some tips which can help you coach your spokesperson.
First, before hand, encourage them to wear clothes and have their hair in a style that projects the image you want people to have of your company. Often this comes down to stereotypes - a corporate spokesperson should probably be suited and booted, but the spokesperson for a charity is more likely to be smart-casual.
There are some guidelines for what your company representatives should wear:
- Avoid fussy patterns. Plain is best for TV. The worst offenders are thin stripes and tight checks, both of which can ‘strobe’.
- Likewise, avoid any distracting accessories like dangling earrings or big scarves.
- Avoid all white, particularly in a studio setting - it can look very dazzling under studio lights. A white shirt under a jacket is OK, but all white is too much.
- Avoid all black – this can make a person look very flat and two dimensional.
- Pastel colours are flattering for most people and can be a good choice of shirt colour for men – think blues, yellow, and pink – depending on skin colour of course.
Invest in some mattifying powder, or at least some face powder. This is for both men as well as women! Studio lights – and even portable lights used for online filming on location – can get very hot. The last thing you want is a shiny faced executive representing your company!
Once their appearance is sorted out, it’s time to think about body language: How they sit is really important. Make sure you attend the filming. When they are being interviewed it’s best to advise them to sit well back in the chair with their back straight, their feet firmly on the ground and their hands in their lap.
I’ve media trained someone who throughout his first filmed interview was unaware of the fact that he was impulsively rubbing his leg to calm his nerves. So, watch out for straying hands and tell them if they need to change their body language.
Remember as well that if they look away from the interviewer and turn their eyes turn to the floor or the ceiling, the chances are they will look shifty on screen, so again you should step in and get another take of the shot.
Above all remember that online audiences, whether consumers or businesses, are all after the same thing – entertainment. Regardless of whether the interview is serious or frivolous, good spokespeople share the same qualities. They are enthusiastic, with formed opinions and considered words: so get your spokesperson to practise what they are going to say beforehand. When you help them practice, ensure they keep their sentences short and the language simple. I often like to advise spokespeople to imagine they are addressing an intelligent 16 year old.
Conversely, what doesn’t work is practicing a news anchor voice or a ‘telephone’ voice. If you find your spokesperson doing this, advise them to just be themselves and speak to the camera like it is a friend. Not only is it more natural, but it’s what your audience will expect. You want your video to reflect the personality of your company and that is why you have chosen your particular spokesperson, isn’t it?