We live in a visual society, and increasingly, a video-based society. Video is much more compelling that other media -- when done correctly. Perhaps it is for this reason that Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's VP of EMEA, told audience members at Fortune's Most Powerful Women International Summit in London that in five years Facebook "will be probably all video." The video tsunami is coming - and it's time to get your brand ready.

The corporate world is rapidly catching on to this megatrend, leveraging video for uses other than simply branding or marketing. Video is now often used to communicate important messages for moving people to action: to invite investors to take a stake in a company; encourage employees to rally round a strategy or initiative; or recruit prospective employees.

Regardless of its application, using video strategically is becoming an essential business skill. For individuals looking to engage in this new medium, Vern Oakley, Founder & CEO of Tribe Pictures and author of the new book, Leadership in Focus: Bringing Out Your Best on Camera, shares his top 7 tips for designing video for your organization's most important messages:

1. Understand Your Video Audience.

"Surely you've heard this before: it's all about the audience," Oakley opens. "The first part of the creative brief for any video should be defining your main audience and the tertiary audience. It's important to understand the tone and language your audience responds to -- and then to mimic it." To do this Oakley

suggests finding "watering holes" where your audience hangs out -- LinkedIn groups, trade groups, conferences, etc. ­- and "eavesdrop on their conversations." "Often in this way you can get a sense of the pain your audience is experiencing which ought to impact the creative thrust of your video."

2. Engaged vs. Unengaged.

"The way you engage your audience is by appealing to a particular emotion," Oakley explains. "This is one of the things that video does exceptionally well. Remember the last time you found yourself laughing or crying at a :30 commercial, or humming the background music for days afterwards? That kind of direct gut-level emotional connection is much more difficult with written text. Emotion engages your viewer so they're ready to take in your message and act upon it."

3. Creating Context

"When video doesn't hit on the visceral level, it's often because the context was ill-defined," Oakley warns. "This is one of the common mistakes you need to avoid. Setting, tone, and creative direction are all contingent upon context. Context drives your creativity. For example, imagine you're making a film about oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. You'd make a different film before the Deepwater disaster than you would after it. Every story has a context, just as every business problem has a context."

4. Style

Oakley reminds readers that today's audiences are visually sophisticated. "They're used to seeing multi-million dollar productions all day long on TV, on Netflix, in scads of TV commercials, in major Hollywood films. Your two-minute video doesn't have to compete with those directly -- but it does have to live up to a professional level of production values, editing, sound, script, and ultimately, meaning. Everyone knows there's a difference between a video shot on a mobile phone and one shot in 4D, but there's still an expectation of quality in the storytelling and pacing. That is just as important if not more so when we're talking about videos for a corporate environment."

5. Courage

Courage is not a value you often think of when making corporate marketing materials, but Oakley notes, "There's a certain amount of courage required to cut through the noise. You have to do something deliberately against the grain. People glaze over quickly if your message is routine, so you have to hit with the unexpected or counterintuitive message to disrupt their boredom. This means creating bold and innovative work and doing the unexpected. Courage takes planning, thought, and creativity, but you can do it. And you'll know it when you see the final product.

6. Clarity Around the Business Problem

"So much of the work we see in a corporate context fails to address a core business problem," Oakley notes. "In fact, much like understanding your audience, understanding the business problem or challenge you need to address, in the tone and language that your audience is used to, is key to creating work that actually stirs people to action."

7. Subject Matter

What is a video if not content? "You can know your audience, have the courage to make something unique, and have clarity around the business problem you're trying to solve - but none of it means anything unless you can get that information across through the people in your video," Oakley says. "Curiosity is the way you activate stories; the casting process is the way you draw them out. And the one with the best questions wins. It's worth studying expert interviewers such as Studs Terkel, Terry Gross, and Marc Maron -- paying attention to the structure and manner of their questioning. It can make a big difference.

Oakley concludes: Video is a unique and often overlooked lever for building a high performance culture. Creating corporate videos that make a difference is a challenge, but video is also the best medium for communicating your most important messages for recruitment and retention, investor relations, executive communication, and many other corporate purposes.

Published on: Mar 10, 2017