Several months ago, I received an email from Daimler AG, the parent company for Mercedes Benz. I was asked to produce an animated video to help launch an internal program aimed at fostering innovation and better customer service. The video was to be used globally, so this was an important project for Mercedes. The video was a success and I wanted to share some thoughts and tips for making effective internal communications videos. But where's the video???
Unfortunately, it's an internal video so I can't share it publicly. The lesson isn't in what the video ultimately looked like, but how other businesses can learn how to improve internal communications when using videos.
#1 - KNOW THE AUDIENCE
As much as we want to communicate what we're thinking, instructions or plans to our employees, we still need to carefully consider who we are talking to. Employees are constantly bombarded by messages and communications throughout the day, so let's be sure we're speaking to the right audience and with the right message.
Always be sure to think about the following three things related to your audience when putting together your internal communications video:
- What the audience already knows:
- What they care about and;
- What is actually important for them.
For the Mercedes Benz internal communications video, the audience was the customer relations members across the globe. These people deal with Mercedes Benz customers to ensure they have a great experience. The program being introduced was a new program to help the members learn and communicate ideas with one another.
What the customer relations team members at Mercedes dealerships care about is how they can improve their ability to deliver exceptional customer service, so we highlighted those points in the video.
In terms of importance, the program gave members a chance to be recognized and rewarded on a company-wide scale. This aspect of the program is meant to motivate members to join the program and contribute something meaningful to the overall good of the company.
#2 - CLARIFY THE MESSAGE
The original script I received was a nice outline of what the program was about, who it was for and what the benefits were. It was solid in terms of what they wanted to talk about, but lacked clarity because it was far too long.
We must keep in mind that people have short attention spans, as well as other things vying for their attention. So our messages must be clear and easy to understand without a lot of fluff. It must also be engaging, meaning you can't simply present the facts and expect people to be interested in what you're saying.
Try to write your script in a conversational tone, one that describes a relatable situation, or a story with a clear beginning, middle and ending. What works best will depend on what you're talking about and to whom. We should shoot for a story, if we can, or at least something with an introduction to a problem or situation and a clear path to the conclusion.
In the Mercedes video, we used a story about a fictional character in the company who had great ideas and was eventually rewarded for his efforts. The message was clear and relatable for the intended audience, which is why the video was well-received.
#3 - KEEP IT SHORT
Sometimes, you're forced to keep a video short because of the platform you will upload it to. Or sometimes, it needs to fit within a set of guidelines. But in general, your internal communications videos should be kept short to ensure your employees will watch the whole video without feeling like it's a burden to do so.
No one wants to sit through 20 minutes of video if the same message can be presented in 5 minutes. We want to increase engagement by using video, not reduce it.
In the Mercedes Benz internal communications video, we had key points about the customer service program that had to be included. We made sure those points got enough attention without spending unnecessary time on them.
This can require several drafts of your script to get the message down right, so always leave adequate time to revise your script and ensure the video is engaging, on point and effective.
One concern you may have is whether or not the topic has been adequately covered. It's a valid concern and tip #4 will describe how to deal with this concern.
#4 - USE FOLLOW UP
No matter what kind of video you create, and for whatever purpose, it's important to follow up the video. In the case of an internal communications video, it's important to prepare additional communications, such as emails, surveys or training to support what was in the video.
In the Mercedes Benz case, if they simply show the video and don't follow up, the customer relations members may simply watch and forget.
I'm not sure what kind of follow up Mercedes actually implemented, but a questionnaire/survey or additional materials about the program would enhance the effectiveness of the video. Follow up would also increase participation in the program, complementing the video.
Videos are a great way to enhance internal communications, especially in today's business environment with all its distractions and numerous tasks. But internal communications videos must be approached in the same manner as a video used for marketing, if we want the video to be effective.
The four tips I've outlined in this post should provide guidance when putting together your internal communications video. The tips, once again, were:
- KNOW THE AUDIENCE
- CLARIFY THE MESSAGE
- KEEP IT SHORT
- USE FOLLOW UP
If your company wants to use video for internal communications, go for it! If you need a hand in actually planning and creating the videos, I'm here to help and to answer any questions you might have.