By Libby Lane, Business Development & Program Manager, llane@bostrom.com

FACT: More video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years. (Source: WordStream)

FACT: Video will represent 80% of all Internet traffic by 2021. (Source: Cisco)

FACT: According to YouTube, over 1 billion hours of video are watched daily on YouTube in 88 countries in 76 languages.

But you don’t need a slew of statistics to tell you that human interaction is the best gateway to connection, do you? So, how does your organization tell its story in a compelling way that engages your members and beyond? Furthermore, how quickly can you tell your story when research shows that 30 seconds is the recommended sweet spot for video length, given the rapid decrease in our attention spans due to an increasingly fast-paced world? Quick! Share your association’s elevator speech in 30 seconds. Grab your audience’s attention before they scroll on and zone out to the latest, greatest “people-slipping-and-sliding-and-falling-on-ice” video (hilarious, right?). How do you connect with your members when you don’t have the luxury of connecting in person, except for the one time a year you chat over coffee stations and passed hors d’oeuvres at your annual conference?

A recent business trip to DC provided me with the special opportunity to get to know my “Bostrom DC” colleagues in person, putting hundreds of emails, conference calls and phone conversations to faces. The face-to-face connection was priceless, bridging the distance between ORD to DCA in a meaningful and important way. On the short plane ride to DC, I opted to open up Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead instead of indulging in United’s free viewing of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I mean, we all know how that ends, don’t we? (Spoiler alert: Indy gets the girl and outmuscles the bad guys.) I dug into the book with thoughts of writing this particular article on my mind, so it was natural for my brain to draw parallels between the subject matter and my ideas about connection and engagement through video. I immediately felt a thread of connectivity woven through Dr. Brown’s insights about vulnerability and its ultimate power as a strength as opposed to a weakness, the latter of which is so commonly perceived in our culture. How many times have you grappled with crippling stage fright at the thought of speaking into the dark, cold vortex of a camera to try and engage with your audience? “I don’t like the way my voice sounds on camera!” “I don’t know what to say!” “I look so nervous!” While contemplating these common scripts that serve as universal roadblocks and how to successfully combat performance anxiety, a particular passage in Dare to Lead spoke to me. According to Dr. Brown:

Across all of our data there’s not a shred of empirical evidence that vulnerability is weakness. Are vulnerable experiences easy? No. Can they make us feel anxious and uncertain? Yes. Do they make us want to self-protect? Always. Does showing up for these experiences with a whole heart and no armor require courage? Absolutely.

Associations are built upon the foundation of their members’ passions. Missions. Vulnerabilities that connect their hearts and spirits together to create something bigger. Something…amazing. Associations provide a powerful, unique platform for their members’ voices to be heard. Your members are changing the world and their associations provide the conduit for this dynamic work and engagement to happen. So, to that I say: get in front of the camera, take your armor off and lead with your heart. Associations are built upon the stories their members tell, and those stories need to be heard. Share your faces, share your voices, and share your value with the world. Faces can be more powerful than words. Spoken voice can be more powerful than a 150-character limit.

Still nervous? That’s ok! Here are some quick tips and tricks that might help ease you into feeling more, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up,” vs. running as fast as you can in the opposite direction:

  • Flip the Script: Not only is it ok to script out a draft of what you want to say, it’s encouraged. Even when speaking to something you are an expert on, it can all quickly evaporate into thin air the moment you feel the pressure and nervousness of being in front of the camera. I’ve found that writing out and rehearsing a loose script based upon that to which I want to speak helps me put it down and speak from my heart when it’s time to roll.
  • Take 11: The fabulous thing about video is that you can shoot as many times as you need to get it right. Those flubs and bloopers can be removed during the editing process – unless you want to keep a few bloopers in, depending on the subject matter and audience of course. Remember that “vulnerability as a strength” idea? Showing others that you are, in fact, human, can sometimes work to build even more of a connection with your audience. Big fan of the blooper reel when the occasion is appropriate for such viewing!
  • A Pal and a Confidant: Is there anything more awkward than staring straight into the lens of the camera and attempting genuine engagement with your audience? Inviting a trusted friend or colleague to sit behind the camera/tripod so you can “talk” to them helps bridge a human connection to the topic of your message. Encourage them to engage with you as an active listener, responding with eye contact, nods, smiles, etc. Just remember to look toward the direction of the camera so you are maintaining focus on your audience (i.e. the camera).
  • The Magic of YOU: Most importantly, be yourself. Sounds simple enough, but sometimes that’s easier said than done the minute the camera appears. Bring your sparkle, your personality, your you-ness to your audience. When you allow your light to shine, you open up the invitation to let others shine theirs, too. And when you provide the catalyst to make that happen? That’s serious magic.