For our hunter-gather ancestors, stories worked as mental simulations for expanding knowledge. Storytelling was a way of passing down vital knowledge from one generation to the next. The storytellers of the oral tradition were the first trainers. We may be 25,000 years removed from our hunter-gather ways but we still share knowledge by telling stories, including organizational knowledge. This is why your training content should include the story of your business. This narrative provides learners with a context for their specific roles. The best way to gather and share these stories is by video.
One of the most important storytellers in your business will be the founder/CEO/MD–the boss! For 20th century workers, the boss was this remote supreme being that ruled from a lofty realm called “head office”. A worker could go their whole life having never heard their boss’s voice. That has all changed. Today’s worker now expects to meet their boss, and if the boss is not available, a video will do.
Very often, small business will shy away from using video as part of their onboarding programme, or role-specific training. They cite the high costs associated with video production. It is true that shooting a training video can be very expensive. A production team will include a director, videographer, scriptwriter, editor, and animator. But you don’t need an army to create a short training video. All you need is a video camera, a mic, and of course the boss.
The most affordable way to share your organisation’s story is to film an interview with the founder/MD of your business, and stream it online. There are no lines for the boss to memorize, or marks to hit. An interview format requires minimal rehearsal, if any. The boss is just responding to an interviewer’s questions. A video where the boss is giving the viewer a video tour of the business will require that the business be treated as a set and dressed with props and populated by extras that all need coordination and direction.
Walking and talking direct to camera is also fraught with problems. It may take a whole day to get just a few minutes of usable footage in the can. While a video tour can be visually interesting, the logistics involved require weeks of preparation and the whole exercise could cost a business tens of thousand of dollars.
It is important to include a video message from the boss in your welcome pack for new hires. This video message should include how the the business was founded. What were the founding values, and how does the boss see those values expressed in the products and services the organisation provides? It is also very important to state the boss’s vision for the future.
For the sake of this blog, and so we don’t have to keep calling your boss, “boss”, let’s give your boss a gender-neutral, and friendlier name like “Sandy”. Here are some tips on how to shoot an interview with your boss (aka Sandy).
Lock Sandy In For the Interview
Call Sandy’s personal assistant and schedule three possible dates for the interview (you may have to cancel a date at short notice, so you’ll want a few dates up your sleeve). Sandy’s personal assistant will also know what time of day is best to conduct an interview. You’ll want a Sandy that brings energy to the interview, rather than an exhausted MD who hasn’t eaten anything since breakfast because they’ve been in out of meetings all day.
Write Up a Series of Questions in Advance
Never wing the interview. Always prepare your interview questions well in advance. In developing the questions you’re going to ask Sandy, consider the message you’re trying to convey. Set aside some time with Sandy ahead of the interview to discuss the questions you will ask and the order of the interview. But before meeting with Sandy go through with the questions with Sandy’s assistant. No one knows Sandy better than Sandy’s personal assistant. The more clarification you get from Sandy’s assistant, the less time you will need to spend with Sandy finalizing the interview questions.
The Pre-Interview Meeting with Sandy
Keep this meeting short. Sandy is a busy boss, after all. This meeting is to finalise the questions that will be asked in the interview. However, be prepared to throw them all out and start again if Sandy feels strongly that the questions do not convey the message or story that Sandy would like to tell. You should decide on the location for the interview at this point. The choice of location will affect the budget. Sandy may want to talk about the company’s safety culture while standing in the centre of the machine shop, but consider that settings like a work area, high traffic space, the outdoors, or on the roof are settings that will be difficult to control in terms of lighting and sound. The easiest and cheapest option will be to shoot the interview in Sandy’s office. Don’t leave this meeting without laying down the ground rules. You are the interviewer. That means you control the interview. If you lose control of the interview and Sandy goes off on some tangent halfway through the interview, the interview will be a nightmare to edit later.
Video Equipment and a Crew
If you have the budget to hire a professional crew, go for your life, but most likely you don’t. If your company doesn’t have its own video production equipment, you can hire equipment, but you can also shoot the interview using a DSLR camera or a home video camera. If you cannot find a videographer within your own ranks, turn to a local film school. Students are always looking for experience, and for projects to add to their showreels. Most film students are the whole package: videographer, editors, special effects whiz! If you use two cameras (one to cover you and one to cover Sandy) you will need to edit the footage from both camera’s together. If you use one camera you will need to move the camera around more.
Setting Up on the Day
On the day of the interview, and when Sandy is out of the office, you’ll want to do a test shoot. Grab the nearest colleague that is the same height, build and coloring as Sandy. Use this person as a stand-in to do a lighting and audio test in Sandy’s office. By using a stand-in, you avoid wasting Sandy’s time by hunting around the office for the best lighting to do the interview. Make sure that all the equipment is properly tested and you’ve troubleshooted any issues in advance of the interview.
Filming the Interview with Sandy
Ease into the interview by letting the camera roll for a while before asking the first question. You can clear your throat, Sandy can get comfortable, and the videographer can check the audio levels. To save time later, its a very good idea to take notes as Sandy talks. These notes will help you when it comes to editing the interview in post-production. Also keep a stopwatch handy to time the interview. If Sandy goes off topic, wait for Sandy to finish, stop filming and start again. It’s always better to have more footage than you need, as opposed to not enough. Trying to cut an hour of footage down to a manageable 15 minute interview can be tough. This is why it is so important to prep the questions in advance of the interview.
Video is a great way to share stories about your business with new hires during induction. One of the most important storytellers in your business is the founder/CEO/MD/”Sandy”. The easiest video to shoot will be an interview, as an interview will be one of the easiest shoots to set up and and shoot, as well as edit. Next time you’re putting together a welcome pack for new hires, forget the welcome letter and rather share a video link of your “Sandy” talking about the important values that underpin your business’s culture.
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