Calling all leaders and change-makers….
Let me ask you a question:
When you speak in front of the camera, do you care whether or not your audience actually gets what you are saying?
Does that matter to you, or are you happy just being a talking head on the television screen, where the words that you say will not be remembered; where the message that your speechwriter has worked so hard to perfect, will leak out of the room; and where you will fail in your mission to make your message matter?
I ask you this question because I see leaders delivering botched video messages on a daily basis. Look-up any leader, from any sector speaking on camera and you are likely to experience the exact same thing that I do (it is rare to see otherwise): the monotone baseline of lifeless words, the deadpanned faces and disengaged bodies robotically reading scripts from the teleprompter, and an absolute lack of heart and soul.
As more and more leaders move their conversations online, using the medium to transmit messages to their constituents, the problem of botching video messages has become epidemic.
The leaders’ egos are too big.
How often do I hear “I don’t need any help with how I deliver my speech in front of the camera because I’ve been doing this for #% years”? When I hear those words, I immediately know that I am speaking to someone who is tripping over their own gargantuan ego. Unless you are a veteran news anchor or a professional actor, EVERYONE could use feedback and valuable advice about how to improve their on-camera performances. There is ALWAYS something that could be polished and enhanced in order to help make you look good and most importantly, to help make your message matter.
In my opinion, this type of up-skilling is especially urgent for leaders who work in the not-for-profit sector, where their organization’s mission is to help heal the world somehow, whether humanitarian, environmental, or otherwise. As I watch leaders from these types of organizations deliver messages that die as soon as the carefully crafted words are uttered, I wither inside and feel hopeless. I ask myself: “what are the consequences of this message not being heard?”
In fact, I asked myself this question yesterday as I stood on the sidelines as an uninvolved spectator and witnessed a leader from a prominent environmental organization bomb her video appearance.
Resisting the polite suggestions from the film crew and support staff to “move her hands while she speaks” and to “not hold a pen while talking”, she powered on, stubbornly doing what she was used to doing: speaking like a soulless robot and nervously fiddling with her pen.
I remember exactly NOTHING about what she said. I wasn’t motivated, inspired, or touched by anything that she mentioned. No part of her “earth-saving” message landed in my heart or in my mind and tragically, nor will it land in her audiences’. Forests will degrade because of this missed opportunity, wildlife will remain under threat and funding will not be released by stakeholders to protect the environment because this message DID NOT LAND.
The hard truth is that the stakes are too high for this kind of useless communication. Nobody wins. It’s an exercise in futility.
My urgent message to leaders, from whatever sector you’re in, is to get your act together and kick your ego to the curb. You do not know it all and you need to radically shift your focus from “I’ve been doing this for #% years”, i.e. your ego, to “I really care about this message and want to make sure that it lands in the hearts and minds of my audience”.
Get out of your own way and hire professional support to help you to be the best version of yourself on camera and to make your message matter. You can afford it and FYI, doing what it takes to make sure that your message reaches your audience is…priceless.