I’ve spent many hours filming executives for various purposes—internal staff videos, training videos, websites, external collateral materials, even for special effects. The script is beautifully polished. The crew is set up and ready to go. The makeup artist and hairdresser are on standby. And then the talent gets up there…and…well…er…they’re not great.
We do take after take. Everyone’s getting tired. The lights are getting hot. The makeup artist is blotting away at the perspiration on the executive’s face. We’re modifying the script. The director is rephrasing the questions. We’re getting our fifth cup of Starbucks. The talent is getting irritated and wondering why this is part of their job.
As I recently discovered, being behind the camera—as most of us communications pros usually are—is the easy part. Putting yourself out there, in front of everyone, trying to get every key message in, staying positive, smiling, avoiding the lights, taking direction from all sorts of people, is far more difficult than it seems. Remember, these are not professional actors we’re dealing with.
As I was launching my new company, we needed to create a two-minute video extolling the virtues of a great communications campaign. I was put in the hot seat. The script was done. We’d spent a lot of time on it. The lighting was set up, the crew ready. Now it was my time to get up there…and…er…it wasn’t great.
Two-and-a-half hours later, everyone’s getting tired. The lights are getting hot. The makeup artist is blotting away at the perspiration on my face. We’re modifying the script. The director is rephrasing the questions. We’re getting our fifth cup of Starbucks….
Eventually, we got a few soundbites that were good enough to string together into a coherent video. We got some of the key messages in there. I didn’t end up looking like I was reading a script and I was a little more relaxed.
Then it hit me: after all these video shoots over the years, there was one thing I never fully appreciated. This was tiring work. I was exhausted after only two-and-a-half hours! I went home and passed out in front of the TV at 4 p.m. Unlike most corporate executives, I didn’t have to go back to a series of high-pressure meetings, having to make important decisions, having to run a company.
This experience gave me a whole new appreciation for what it takes to be the person sitting in the hot seat. It’s not easy. We should remember that when we put a businessperson out there to perform. They are not Meryl Streep or Robert De Niro!
Try it for yourself sometime.