Thinking

Tell Me a Story: The Power of Traditional Storytelling, Emotion and Employee Point of View

Let’s be brutally honest for a moment. Internally produced corporate videos have a fairly consistent history and reputation. Over the years they have come to be rated by something employees call, “The Yawn Factor.” For some reason, internally-facing videos have been given a free pass to be less than excellent, while consumer-facing videos are held to a much higher standard. We at Mojo Solo argue that it’s no longer acceptable to hold your employee facing messages to a lower standard than your customer facing messages. Both customers and employees deserve to be presented with media that will make them look twice, make them think, and will provide an “a-ha” moment that inspires in them a renewed commitment to your company’s brand.

But why do so many internally facing productions fall flat? Why do they seem destined to catch no one’s attention and inspire nothing but yawns? Tom Clifford, a multimedia consultant, rightly points to a phenomenon known as the “Safe” phenomenon.

“When it comes to producing corporate videos, most internal marketing departments create something ‘safe.’ ‘Safe’ works. ‘Safe’ is easy. ‘Safe’ will keep your job. ‘Safe’ gets me through the day.

Not really. ‘Safe’ doesn’t inspire conversations. ‘Safe’ doesn’t ignite action. ‘Safe’ doesn’t make me think harder. Or differently. Or stretch me. ‘Safe’ doesn’t make me go, ‘A-Ha!’”

We would also argue that the biggest common reason corporate videos don’t capture the hearts or minds of employees is this:

Corporate videos often lack 1) anything resembling a well-told story or 2) an actual person’s point of view. Thusly, it is unable to spark an emotional connection or inspire any positive reaction from an employee.

Riddle me this: If you release a video into the company intranet without a compelling story angle or human perspective, will it still make a sound?

Storytelling Stands Out
Even when an organization has produced an informational, high-definition video with slick-looking graphics and also has a proven distribution method for employees to see the videos, the messages can still fail. Simply put, if an internally facing video is missing a personal, human point of view, and is not harnessing the true power of story, it will most likely go unnoticed or unwatched.

Three basic techniques that will lead to better storytelling in corporate videos include:

Build an instant human connection.
iewers have a very basic desire to identify with someone in the video. We want to connect with one or more of the people onscreen, so let’s be sure to have some real people telling real stories in their own authentic voices. Here the “Voice of God” narration technique often need not apply.

Give the story some context.
How does this new initiative or campaign fit into the bigger picture? Who are the supporting players? What is the long term mission and how will this new adventure of a campaign help us achieve our common goals?

Keep it simple.
Tell a story that is easy to understand. Save the in-depth statistical analysis for the accompanying spreadsheets. The video is meant to inspire and energize. After the employees feel connected to a personally relatable mission, they will want to dig deeper into charts, spreadsheets and statistics. NOT during the video.

Like any good television commercial or program, you must work to engage your audience. Yes – this means employees, too!
A common thought among management might be, “My employees are already on board with the company. Just present them the information they need to do their jobs. They already understand the brand and are already inspired to participate in the new initiative or to be passionate advocates for the new product launch.”

It’s this kind of thinking that will lead to uninspired and disengaged employees. We’ve seen it happen. Instead, we challenge you to think of your employees as you would your customers (see our Brand is as Brand Does article for more on this) and put the same thought and effort into internally facing messages as you would into a customer facing commercial. Shouldn’t you treat employees as the best potential brand advocates you have?

The Benefits of Authentic Voice
At its essence, a video’s success will rely upon its ability to convey an authentic message from a real human’s point of view. Often to achieve this goal, we invite real employees to tell their own stories to other employees, rather than having the CEO or “Voice of God” narration do the storytelling. Let them tell it in their own words! This employee voice technique has had proven success for our clients and often results in:

Increased interpersonal connection and relationships between employees and management, which are critical to successful collaboration and result in higher productivity and engagement.

A strong feeling of community in the workplace. Employees want to come to work to collaborate with their peers.

A positive and accurate reflection of an organization’s culture. Identifying with an organization’s culture is a big factor in employee job satisfaction.

Whether it’s to announce a new company-wide innovation campaign or perhaps to recognize success stories within your organization, the next time you are considering producing an internally facing video, we hope you will consider crafting it in a manner that reflects what we’ve found to be successful:

Tell them a human story, which employees can connect with on an emotional level. And tell it to them using a human voice, from a point of view they can identify with. You just might notice your video getting a few second looks.

Give us a call or shoot us an email to find out more on how we did it and to see the projects!  From video production services, to brand stories, green screen, online video marketing, social media marketing, viral marketing or just simply needing a camera crew in Minneapolis or St. Paul, we do it all!