How To: Lights! Camera! Action!

How To: Lights! Camera! Action!

How leaders use video to inspire their
teams and enhance their brands.

By Carmine Gallo

Photo Caption: Gary Vaynerchuk films his video blog,
WineLibraryTV, at his studio in Springfield, New Jersey.
Photo courtesy of Adriel Calderas

New social-media video tools have changed the way business leaders and experts communicate with their employees, partners and customers. These tools can help you extend your brand as well. In March 2009, Zurich Financial Services Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James Schiro embarked on an employee “road show” to reassure the company’s 60,000 employees that, despite all the bad news surrounding the insurance industry at the time, Zurich’s balance sheet remained strong, the business was growing and it was prepared to meet the challenges ahead. Road shows were not new to Schiro, but his means of communication changed significantly. Schiro carried along an inexpensive tool to record and upload video to YouTube – a Flip video camcorder. 

The Catalyst of Change
“A leader has to be the catalyst of change, has to champion it passionately and epitomize it personally,” Schiro said. One of the changes he noticed was in the way people communicate with each other on social networking sites, such as YouTube and Facebook. He decided to connect with his employees and customers in the same way. After he visited Zurich offices around the world, Schiro uploaded one- and two-minute updates to YouTube. The video clips were publicly accessible but primarily aimed at employees and customers who could view the video from any browser. Why didn’t he simply send an e-mail or post an update to the internal blog? “Many people are more interested in watching a video than reading another e-mail,” he said.

You’d expect a company as large as this to produce highly stylized (and expensive) corporate video. Schiro believes that inexpensive tools available to large- and small-business owners alike are just as powerful, if not more so, because they offer a degree of informality and immediacy. They “humanize” people and provides a deeper level of emotional engagement, he says. With a Flip camera, all Schiro has to do is record a message, plug it into his computer via a USB port and upload the video clip to or the Zurich Web site. 

A Killer App Available to Everyone
Another well-known CEO making frequent use of video is Cisco’s John Chambers, who uses it in his internal blog – or Vblog. Chambers is such a big believer in the power of informal social-media tools, his company purchased Pure Digital, the maker of the Flip. Now Chambers “Flips” wherever he goes. On a trip to South Korea, where he met with country leaders, customers and employees, he turned the camera on himself, recorded a short update, plugged it into his PC and uploaded a video briefing to his employees before he boarded the plane to return home. Chambers believes video is “the next killer application” on the Internet.

“When employees see that video blog, they know it’s a casual conversation with John,” says Mike Mitchell, Cisco’s senior director of Collaboration Business Services. C-Vision, Cisco’s internal employee-video-sharing platform is the Cisco version of YouTube. Any employee who wants to upload a video is welcome to do so. Employees upload 300 to 400 videos every month. Thirty-eight percent of these videos are team and organization updates, lasting under 10 minutes. The second most popular use of the medium – 24 percent – is for product and sales updates.

Although Cisco has a multi- million-dollar studio for high-profile communications and it sells the high-end TelePresence video conferencing system, team leaders often prefer to use the cheaper, faster and more informal video tools. For example, if a competitor makes a move, a product manager can immediately send information to his team to discuss a response. 

Keeping it Real
James Schiro’s YouTube road show experiment met with such enthusiasm, he instructed Zurich’s top leaders around the world to shoot short video messages in their own language and post them on the Internet. Schiro’s one recommendation: Keep the video clips informal, because online viewers want authentic communication. Schiro records just one take, even if it’s not perfect. “If I spoke to a group of people, I wouldn’t get a second chance,” he says. “Do the same with video. If your video comes across as canned and rehearsed, the message will lose its sincerity.”

Gary Vaynerchuk would agree. He’s better known on the Web as “The Wine Guy.” He has created a one-man brand by hosting “The Internet’s most passionate wine program.” His hosts 80,000 viewers a day; he has a popular blog,; and he has inked a deal with HarperCollins for a series of books. His first book, Crush It, has become a New York Times bestseller. Vaynerchuk says he loses 12 percent of his audience right out of the gate when they see his animated style, but believes that if he were to tone things down, he wouldn’t be real. Audiences on the Web can smell an act. Like Schiro and Chambers, Vaynerchuk also uses an inexpensive Flip camera and doesn’t worry about perfection as he is recording. If Vaynerchuk makes mistakes as he’s speaking, all the better: It looks like someone having a real conversation and not like a video that has been professionally produced. People like him because he’s being true to himself. 

Video Builds Trust
Distributing video on social networks can help you stand out as a leader, entrepreneur or business owner. Video builds trust, according to a 2006 internal Cisco research report. Cisco’s research found that “trust, a critical factor in influencing group effectiveness, is readily generated in richer media experiences...Relational cues are normally conveyed nonverbally; the absence of nonverbal cues in e-mail and instant messaging can therefore be a barrier to the expression of interpersonal dynamics.” Inspiring leaders are using video as a tool to enhance relationships with customers, employees, partners and investors, and they’re not paying a fortune to do it. Anyone with access to an inexpensive video camera and the Internet can begin speaking directly to his or her audiences, offering a more authentic and immediate communication experience than is available via simple text in e-mail or blogs.

Carmine Gallois a communications coach, public speaking expert and author of several books, including his latest bestseller, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. Visit him online at

The TI Podcast and You 

By Bo Bennett

Have you listened to the Toastmasters Podcast yet? Last August, Ryan Levesque and I launched the program – the official podcast of Toastmasters International. We’ve produced more than 20 episodes featuring interviews with fascinating Toastmasters from around the world.

To listen to a podcast, visit podcast. Each episode, free and available to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection, complements the Toastmaster magazine. Authors of recent articles frequently serve as guests on the podcast, allowing the authors and hosts to delve deeper into the topic at hand, bringing each article to life.

All podcast episodes are also listed at This is the hosting site for the podcast, providing an interactive platform for listeners. Log in for free, create a unique log-in ID and benefit from additional features such as:

  • Comments. Share your comments and feedback on each podcast episode.
  • Open discussions. Communicate with other Toastmasters from around the world.
  • Notifications. When you create a log-in ID, you receive e-mail notifications each time a new podcast is posted.

If you are already familiar with podcasting and have an iPod or other MP3 player, visit iTunes and search for “Toastmasters.” If you subscribe to the show, new episodes will be automatically downloaded to your computer. 

The Show Is For You
The Toastmasters Podcast is your podcast. You can simply sit back and listen, or you can be a part of the show. Here are a few ways you can participate:

  • Suggest ideas. We are always looking for topics and guests that will both educate and entertain our listeners.
  • Share your advice. Do you have any tips for other Toastmasters?
  • Ask your questions. Do you have any questions about public speaking, leadership and/or Toastmasters as an organization?
  • Provide feedback. As a Toastmaster, you can evaluate the podcast and provide valuable feedback that will help us improve the show.

If you want to be on the podcast, you can participate by calling the listener feedback voice mailbox at 1-888-451-8862. You will have up to two minutes to leave your feedback and/or suggestions. You can also e-mail or contact us via Twitter at @TheTMPodcast.