How to make sure your execs don’t bore employees

Your senior leaders don’t have to be a stuffed shirt. Learn how to boost your presence—or your CEO’s—in webcasts, town halls and videos. A new guide points the way.

When a good speaker makes a video presentation—whether prerecorded or as a webcast meeting—the result looks effortless.

Yet that illusion is usually the culmination of serious work rehearsing and honing the message, experts say.

How, then, to prepare? How should a speaker handle tough questions on a live camera? What should executives (or the communicators working with them) do to create a tight, focused webcast meeting or video event?

A new Ragan Communications/MediaPlatform guide, “How to prep your execs to speak in front of employees (and not bore them),” offers best practices for preparing the brass for the new era of video and webcasting. The guide is available free as a download.

Preparing the message always starts with having a good understanding of the business, the challenges, the audience and “what success looks like,” says Jackie Bartoletti, head of internal communications at Hulu.

“That’s why a good communicator—the best communicators—are also business-savvy,” she says. “It increases your credibility to speak the language of the business and your leaders.”

The guide covers these and other points:

  • Prepare the message, but don’t script responses. Stay on track while avoiding robotic reading of your talking points.
  • Don’t wait for the meeting. Prepare for the tough questions in advance.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Yes, you’ll have to go over the speech repeatedly, but find out about a preparation trick that involves your smartphone and a treadmill.
  • What the best speakers learn by visiting the room where they’ll be speaking.
  • What you can learn from your favorite TV personality-or from your local station’s report from the scene of a fire.
  • How to give a two-way speech that involves your audience.
  • The potential for velociraptor costumes in your all-hands event.
  • Why you must assess your success afterward.
  • …and more.

Organizations often try to do too much in a town hall, jampacking information in to the point that it clouds the messages, says Brad Parler, digital communications administrator at He recommends paring everything down to the single thought your audience should take away.

“Drive that one point home,” he says.

If you’re going to call your workers away from their jobs, make sure you’ll get measurable benefits. Otherwise, it’ll just end up as time for them to catch up on their email through their phones.

If you get it right, you and your leaders will reap the benefits.

“It comes down to the authenticity that video provides over most other media,” says Scott Levely, digital communications lead at Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario, Canada, “whether that be a live town hall where you ask a tough question and you get to see the CEO’s reaction, or if it’s more of a storytelling piece that’s been edited and produced.”

Download your free copy here.

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