Keep It Real to Reach Your Audience


What does it take for a person to connect with millions of people via television? It might seem like a mysterious skill that only a talented few possess, but in reality all of us have the potential to reach and engage people we can’t see.

TV personalities, especially newscasters, tend to have a charisma that makes audiences take notice. And yet, their main connection to the millions who watch them live is through a camera.

What’s the secret? It’s called telepresence. The term refers to the use of audio, video and other interactive elements to enable people to feel or appear that they’re in a location where they aren’t physically present. Telepresence is just the means for reaching audiences. Connecting with and engaging them requires other things that, fortunately, we all have within us.

I recently had an amazing experience at a customer conference in Florida that launched a tool proving the power of connecting. At JAFRA Cosmetics International’s annual kickoff, the leading global direct marketer of cosmetics and skin care products announced exciting news, a new site they call “JAFRA BeYOUtiful”. The site supports leadership messaging, orientation, training and skill development through live and on-demand video, in a television format, for JAFRA’s 550,000 member consultants. That is a big communication challenge, but JAFRA found an impressive way to solve it.

The way JAFRA connects with its many members is by embracing technology and using those channels to communicate, coach and share product knowledge. The leaders of the training sessions at the kickoff showed energy and enthusiasm, and most importantly, they came across as authentic. They are real people, living out the organization’s values and touching real lives around the world. You could feel the energy in the room and sense it for those viewing remotely.

Authenticity is the key to communicating well, especially via live video. Why? Because people crave to see and hear real people telling real stories.

If you watched the Academy Awards this week, you probably noticed that half of the eight films nominated for Best Picture were based on real people. The other films were also stories about interesting characters, who weren’t real but could have been. The Oscar winner, “Birdman,” was about a fictitious actor who struggled to launch a Broadway play. Except for him playing a comic book superhero, a bird – that’s where the movie title comes from – that character could have been your neighbor or mine.

All of us have the power to be authentic. No matter how we’re delivering a message, we just have to be ourselves. Professional broadcasters appear highly polished, and it’s because they’ve honed the ability to tell stories to a camera instead of an audience they can see. It may take a little practice, but anybody – including me – can learn to tell stories on camera.

If you want to reach, inform and engage an audience through video, be yourself and tell stories that are real. I like the phrase, “The real deal.” It means that what you see is what you get; it’s not artificial. There’s simply no substitute for authenticity in communication. If you want break through and truly connect with your audience, be the real deal.