Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.


The best of solutions journalism in the sustainability space, published monthly.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Commit!Forum Sponsored Series


How to Tell Better Stories on Camera

By 3p Contributor


By Dave Armon

For corporate responsibility professionals who want to show the positive impact of their work, video is often the medium of choice.

But hold off on powdering your CEO’s nose and firing up the teleprompter.

Authenticity suffers when those appearing on camera look like they’ve just completed Media Training 101, says Vern Oakley, a veteran filmmaker who founded Tribe Pictures in 1986. Oakley will lead a session aimed at helping CSR and sustainability pros tell better stories using video during COMMIT!Forum, Oct. 11-12.

“While media training prepares you for some specific situations, it can suck all the authenticity out of you and leave nothing but a corporate taking head,” warns Oakley in his new book, Leadership in Focus. “It teaches people to pivot, to avoid, to squirm, and to dodge. Media training helps people go on Fox News or sit with Charlie Rose or get in a good quip at the debate, but what happens in media training is the total opposite of what it takes to be you on camera. Viewers don’t want a polished sound bite machine. They want a real human.”

Oakley, who has produced films and videos featuring hundreds of C-suite executives, has turned media training on its ear in his 244-page how-to guide for those seeking to increase the effectiveness of digital content.

Whether to employ an off-camera interview with the CEO, a roundtable discussion or a direct-to-audience approach depends on goals and the executive’s style. Oakley thoroughly explores the seemingly endless list of options while advising when circumstances favor a format.

“The roundtable is particularly effective for discussing complex issues when you want different points of video to come forward,” writes Oakley. “You may not want one person to be the total focus because someone one in the group may contribute interesting and less familiar points of video with the audience.”

He offers warm reviews of leaders like Spanx CEO Sara Blakely and Microsoft chief Satya Nadella while dedicating a full chapter to techniques that camera-shy execs can use to prepare.

Reviews have been uniformly positive for Oakley’s book, which led in sales in the filmmaking category following its release earlier this year.

“Every business major takes a writing course, but that’s not our future. Instead, everyone with something to say is going to need to say it on camera. And Vern Oakley’s crash course is a great place to start,” writes digital marketing author and entrepreneur Seth Godin about Leadership in Focus.

Join Oakley at Commit!Forum, at the MGM National Harbor, just outside Washington on Oct. 11-12. Register here.

Image credit: jsawkins Flickr

TriplePundit has published articles from over 1000 contributors. If you'd like to be a guest author, please get in touch!

Read more stories by 3p Contributor