Spirited Communication

Category: video

Another Take on Parental Expectations

While participating in the creation of videos as a corporate communications professional, I learned how to write and deliver polished lead-ins. It was one of many skills that I wanted to help my children to develop, and I looked for opportunities to share my knowledge “for their good.”

When an opportunity presented itself during a family vacation to San Diego, I learned a valuable lesson regarding the potential pitfalls of parental expectations. It’s a fitting topic to share on Father’s Day—and is even more poignant for me because my wife and daughter were the ones who recently shared their perspective of the experience with me.

During that week-long trip, my 12-year-old son, Kevin, and 10-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, showed a great deal of interest in using the family’s new Sony Handycam digital video camera to record portions of the vacation from their perspectives. Other than when I cautioned them not to dangle the video camera outside of whatever vehicle we were sitting in while they shot video segments, I thought I gave them great freedom to enjoy the experience of videotaping our vacation moments.

That was until I reviewed their first recordings. Their rapid camera movement during shots of the San Diego Zoo made me more nauseous than any live carnival ride I had ever taken. Their stopping and starting recordings of people mid-sentence and thought caused flashbacks of my past drunken revelry and long-forgotten, very forgettable and regrettable, barroom conversations.

“They can do better than this,” I thought. “All it will take is a little coaching.”

Then I had an amazing idea. Why not turn this haphazard video recording into a family vacation video project? That would bring much-needed focus to our recording efforts—and give me the chance to showcase my talent as a communication coach and video “expert.” Oh yeah, and the kids will love it!

Surprisingly, Kim and the kids were much less excited about the family video project than I expected. Well, all I needed to do was to get one of the kids involved, and the rest of the dominoes would fall quickly into place, right?

My immediate choice was to work with Caitlyn on what would be the video intro. Caitlyn was a natural who enjoyed being videotaped and had a good, natural presence on camera. She was her communication daddy’s little girl!

Well, she was no “one-take wonder,” and I was a less-than-encouraging coach. She started pretty well on her first take: “Welcome to SeaWorld. I’m going to take you…I’m going to take you on a tour today.”

‘OK, a slight flub,” I thought. “We could take it out in post-production, but why not have her get it right now?” I kept the camera recording as I said, “Ok start again and say, ‘Hi I’m Caitlyn Keefe’ and then say what you said just now. Look right at the camera.”

Appearing slightly annoyed, but still game, Caitlyn started Take Two: “Hi, I’m Caitlyn Keefe and we’re at SeaWorld, and I’m going to be your tourist.” “CUT!” I nearly yelled, but instead said, “Tour guide, Caitlyn. Two words.”

My voice tried to hide my frustration, as I said, “Do it again now, real good, all together now. Look at the camera while you’re doing it. With a smile!”“Hi, I’m Caitlyn Keefe and I’m going to be your tour guide, and we are in California, San Diego, and I’m going to show you around SeaWorld.” I panned away to show the entrance, then back to Caitlyn. I fed her the next line: “So let’s get started.”
“So, let’s get started,” Caitlyn said with a smile while she spread her arms wide at her side. It either was a pose of excitement or resignation—I still can’t be sure.

Caitlyn, Kim and I recently watched this video. Caitlyn’s comment afterward: “Well, now I guess we know why I never became an actress—I thought I wasn’t good enough!” Although she was half-joking, Caitlyn and her mom have continued to bring up the “coaching session”; so I know it did bother them.

That is the lesson that I want to share on this Father’s Day. We have such a short window of time to be the primary teachers of our children. Our ability to help guide them and support them quickly becomes contingent on our relationship with them.

The Christian bible states, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.” It is wise advice that can keep the all-important parent-child relationship open. We cannot communicate to loved ones if they close their ears to us.

In recent years, I’ve made efforts to hold my tongue so that one of my children can share something with me. When I do that well, I gain important insights into their world, their struggles, and their concerns.

That hasn’t always been easy for me and my controlling personality. On this Father’s Day, I’m glad that I can call “Cut!” on myself and give myself another take in the action adventure that I call, life.

What You Missed at CorpComm Expo

Attendees of the Nov. 15-16 CorpComm Expo (CCE) at Navy Pier in Chicago  heard communication tips and updates from communication pros, and saw the latest software and hardware for interactive content solutions.

CCE is the world’s first and only conference and trade show exclusively dedicated to showcasing digital communications technology and education that specifically serve the needs of corporate professionals.

Two educational sessions that I attended were a case study on an internal branding campaign at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a panel discussion regarding best practices for internal marketing and growth of an internal media department. I’ll highlight a third conference presentation in a separate post.

Kelly Hipchen, a communication officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shared a case study on an internal branding initiative during the CorpComm Expo.

Kelly Hipchen, a communication officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shared a case study on an internal branding ambassadorship (advocacy) initiative during the CorpComm Expo.

The case study was presented by former IABC Chicago Board Member Kelly Hipchen, who now serves as a Communications Officer at the Gates Foundation. Hipchen provided background and detail of a brand ambassadorship (advocacy) initiative that her team launched at the foundation.

The foundation leadership saw a need to redefine and refocus its “story” so that its 1,400 employees and “foundation alumni” across the globe could better share its core mission and accomplishments.

One learning from the branding initiative that Hipchen pointed out was that leadership had to work with employees to let the meaning of “keeping humble” evolve. The leadership team believed early on that the foundation’s work wasn’t supposed to bring glory to the foundation, she said. But she and other communication professionals were able to explain that “being humble doesn’t necessarily mean being silent” about accomplishments made from the grants originating from the Gates Foundation.

Jeff Boarini, consultant and former director at McDonald's Creative Services team, speaks during a panel discussion at CorpComm Expo.

Jeff Boarini, consultant and former director at McDonald’s Creative Services team, speaks during a panel discussion at CorpComm Expo.

The best practices panel included Jeff Boarini, former creative director at McDonald’s Creative Services; Chris Barry, senior director/Group creative director at Best Buy’s Yellow Tag Productions department; and David Leonard, WorldBank division manager of printing and multimedia services.

Boarini was part of a downsizing at McDonald’s, in which he ended up training people from the outside company that McDonald’s hired.

In light of a Forbes article I read titled, “No—I won’t Train the Intern to Replace Me,” I asked what benefit he found in staying there and training his replacements. Boarini said, he has maintained professional bridges with former associates, and he recommended that anyone in a similar situation consider the value of maintaining good relations with employers during layoffs.

Barry then discussed his role managing an internal creative unit within Best Buy. He shared two videos that his team created for internal audiences, including one parody of “Hamilton,” that included professional dancers and actors performing a Best Buy-related song meant to motivate Best Buy employees at holiday time. Barry said his team has earned trust by continuing to provide efficient and effective work that gives internal clients “what they need, not always what they want at first.” He said communication professionals need to “push back when necessary” to ensure that their internal customers understand why a certain approach or content would be most effective in meeting their needs.

One tip that he shared with conference attendees is to add subtitles to videos that might be seen on kiosks or computer screens within work areas with the sound turned off. That way, employees understand the message even when viewing the video in an environment where the sound cannot be played.

Chuck Gose, BroadSign corporate communications practice leader and sales director, shows the company's popular "Periodic Table of Internal Communication."

Chuck Gose, BroadSign corporate communications practice leader and sales director, shows the company’s popular “Periodic Table of Internal Communication.”

During the CCE, I also spoke with Chuck Gose, BroadSign corporate communication practice leader and sales director. Gose, whose company developed a popular “Periodic Table of Internal Communication,” shared the news that he is currently working on an updated version of the Periodic Table that will include new content provided by communication professionals who have used the Periodic Table in their work.

The Periodic Table of Internal Communication groups common elements of smart internal communication. “Like the original Periodic Table, our table was developed with the knowledge that additional “elements” would be discovered, and the table updated to reflect them,” Gose said.

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