Let me tell you, video is never easy to do well across an entire enterprise. I know first-hand as we host a mandatory monthly All Hands Meeting at Kollective. While my event services team can share details on the planning, logistics and technology that it takes to host and deliver live or on-demand video meetings successfully, one thing that is often overlooked is preparing the speaker how to be most effective on camera.
Many businesses have their executives speak to the company about what is going on within their respective departments at their All Hands Meetings. I prefer to gather the important data from each Department lead and share it with the entire company myself. This gives me the opportunity to fully understand what is going on within all of Kollective, and also puts pressure on me to be able to clearly articulate these updates and instill confidence in our workforce. Again, video is not easy but it is powerful and for certain, it is not easy to be the one on stage that everyone is listening (or not listening) to.
Over the years, I’ve been behind the camera enough times myself to know exactly what I need in order to perform my best. Below are my top tips to be an authentic and credible speaker.
1. Know your audience
Whether you are speaking to an investor, an analyst, your customers, your employees or your in-laws, knowing your audience is massively important when preparing a public speech. Understanding what your audience is most interested in hearing, how they want to receive it, and how they may want to participate will help keep them engaged with messages that resonate, wherever they may be.
2. Own the agenda.
Delivering an effective message requires a well thought out agenda. If there are other speakers scheduled please take part in deciding who speaks, when, for how long, and in what format. If they are speaking before and/or after you, determine a creative way to tie their sessions into your overall message. Good content flow from one speaker to the next can help attendees reinforce the critical messages you are sharing and keep your audience engaged.
And remember, while it is good to have a solid agenda, a good speaker is a nimble speaker and one who can shift gears on the fly to accommodate the needs of your audience or other time-sensitive requirements.
3. Be the talent
While I don’t require a green room or a bowl of green M&Ms, I know what I need to be successful when speaking on camera. I need the room chilled (preferably to 65 degrees or below), I prefer to stand, I want a lavalier mic, I want to control the slides with a clicker, I want remote participants to mute up unless they are speaking, and I want the slides to be on-brand. Your event team is there to support you so please take advantage of their expertise. Providing clear communication about the things that are important for you to measure performance helps everyone perform better. Need a visible timer or a confidence monitor? Just ask, just be sure to provide your AV and logistics people enough time to deliver.
4. Go unscripted.
For All Hands Meetings, you are most likely speaking to an internal audience. You are their leader and they need to trust you. Speaking to your team is about connecting and speaking from the heart, not from bullet points or a script. Sure, use your PowerPoint slides as a visual cue to keep you on track, but never read from them.
Going unscripted too stressful? Remember that performance anxiety is completely normal and even highly-skilled public speakers feel stress prior to going on stage. Channel that nervous energy into excitement and keep in mind that passion, not confidence, is what we remember about a speaker. Be humble, genuine, and when appropriate, be emotional. Most importantly, be yourself. If you are addressing the same audience multiple times, like our monthly All Hands Meetings, your audience will get to know your style and they will count on it. While my goal is to always be honest and professional, the team at Kollective can rely on me to be candid and to reference at least one sports metaphor per session.
5. Commit to getting better
Being a strong on-camera communicator is part of a modern executive’s job. It is vitally important and no matter how many times you have done this, there is always room for improvement. Ask for real feedback from your team and take it to heart. Go back and watch your recorded on-demand meeting and notice your body language – confidence flows from good posture. Study your language patterns and how you connect with both the people in the room and those joining virtually. It is never easy to watch yourself on camera, but I guarantee you will find room for improvement; I always do.
6. Put in the work
While it is implied from the five tips above, the most important tip for executives to be more effective on camera (and in every part of their jobs and lives, quite frankly) is to prepare, prepare, prepare. Marinate in the materials you are presenting a few days before your event to let them sink in. Take the time to understand what each message really means to you, to your investors, and most importantly, to your workforce.
7. Have fun
People can tell if you are not having fun. Don’t be so robotic, loosen up, make eye contact and smile.
At Kollective, I host our All Hands Meetings to bring our global company together. We meet monthly to celebrate successes, align on priorities, and maintain transparency. As the CEO, I also like to use this time to remind folks of the larger purpose of our company and how each of us are contributing.
Do you host regular All Hands or Town Hall Meetings with your staff? I’d love to hear your tips for success.
Thanks and good luck and good communicating.