As millions of people navigate how to best work from home, those in charge are asking themselves how they can best lead from home. And while there's no one-size-fits-all playbook on how to lead through a global pandemic, there's one thing we know to be true: Building trust and confidence as a leader requires a commitment to adapting your communication style. And in some cases, getting creative.
We recently ran our Employee Net Promoter Score survey at HubSpot, and learned that 81 percent of employees are developing new communication behaviors as a result of working remotely. They're not alone, either. Over the past few months, video has become my go-to communication tool. What used to be reserved for the rare webinar is now a daily vehicle for managing through uncertainty.
Gone are the days when videos needed production teams, scripts, and weeks of editing time. Today, the scrappier the better. Not only is video easy to use, thanks to tools like Zoom and Loom, but employees value hearing from leadership unfiltered. That's why for our leadership team at HubSpot, video has become as popular as email for communication over the past few months. It's how we're quickly scaling global communications, without compromising on human touch. If you're a little camera shy, here are four best practices to leverage video in your internal communications:
1. Don't Overthink It
It can be tempting to focus on crafting the perfect script or get hung up on multiple takes. Truth is, employees aren't looking for a shiny, well-produced motion picture. They're looking for clear communication and transparency.
In March, Marriott's president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, shared a video with international associates around the business impact of Covid-19. And it wasn't the background or production quality that elicited the outpouring of positive reaction. In under six minutes, Sorenson was able to effectively communicate updates to the global team while being vulnerable, emotional, transparent, and hopeful.
Focus on being yourself, talk directly into your laptop camera, keep it conversational, and don't waste time on editing out fumbled-over words. Simply put, don't let perfection get in the way of connection.
2. Use Visual Aids
Studies have shown that video can improve retention -- with effects that even increase over time. Viewers retain 95 percent of a message when they watch it in a video compared with 10 percent when reading it in text. With video, you also have the opportunity to use visuals to support your message and help break down potentially complicated information in an easily digestible way. A personal favorite communication tool of mine is Loom, where you can capture your screen, voice, and face and create a video in less time than it would take to type an email. I use it as a way to connect and be transparent with our global people operations team when sending them weekly business updates and things that are top of mind for me.
3. Show, Don't Tell
In times of uncertainty, people look to leaders for nonverbal cues that things are going to be OK and that they can trust the team behind big decisions. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern provides a shining example of this. During a pivotal time for the country, she posted Facebook videos of herself smiling and relaxed from her home. Sure, she could have typed up a statement, but her warmth and empathy shined in the medium she chose and how she presented herself. In times of uncertainty, emotions run high, so making yourself more visible has the added impact of instilling calm and confidence.
4. Find a Cadence
Harvard Business Review's 2013 employee engagement survey revealed that 70 percent of employees say they're most engaged when senior leadership continually updates and communicates company strategy.
Decide how and when you'll use video to communicate updates to your employees, and stick with a cadence that builds trust and transparency over time. Consider hosting regular Ask Me Anything sessions with your executive team over Zoom, recording a weekly Loom providing updates to your department, or using the Slack call feature to connect with someone quickly to save time.
Working remotely has challenged us all to rethink how we communicate. And if video isn't a core tool of yours yet, I encourage you to give it a chance. The good news is, you don't need serious equipment to make videos with serious impact. The scrappy nature of video makes it easy for busy leaders to scale human, empathetic communication, especially during busy times. No editing, acting skills, or fancy hair and makeup required.