The Human Touch: Harnessing the Human Aspect of Business Video to Connect and Engage

Businesses do not exhibit emotions. Neither do products. But humans do. Which is why video is such a potent business tool. Watching someone on video instantly adds an extra dimension - a more personal, more authentic interaction. Video generates more of an emotional response than any other means of remote communication.

Despite these very real benefits, most businesses don't consider them when implementing or extending a video strategy. They typically measure the benefits of using video in standard ROI terms, citing improved productivity and reduced costs, and ignoring the significance of the more intangible 'human touch'.

My contention is that organizations looking to justify their investment in video, or considering adding video, should not overlook the value of the human touch.

There's plenty of evidence that indicates the extent that video playback of a talking head stimulates the senses, helping to focus attention. Facial expressions, voice and tone, body language, emotions, a feeling of eye contact, gestures, audio, and movement - these are all aspects that enhance connections and engagement and can be used to great effect by enterprises, both internally and externally.

Video playback also offers a time dimension, which can be used to boost viewer interaction and engagement, for example by adding targeted advertising or links to complementary/supplemental information.

Put simply, watching someone on video puts the human aspect back into remote business communication, collaboration, sharing, and learning - with all of its imperfections, sense of shared empathy, and simplicity.

According to Susan Weinschenk, also known as the 'Brain Lady', there are four reasons why we are drawn to watching and listening to people on video:

  • The Fusiform gyrus, a part of the brain that becomes active when looking at faces, makes us pay attention. It appears to use the face as a gathering point for information and more. When we see someone's face, we process emotional information in a deeper way.
  • Voice conveys rich information. Of course you can alter your tone in a simple audio communication to convey different information and emotions, but when linked to video, the communication is amplified with movement, gestures and facial expressions.
  • Emotions and feelings are contagious - they produce a reaction and provide impact.
  • Movement grabs attention. It is a basic human instinct for us to pay attention to movement in our peripheral line of vision.

These qualities are at the heart of video's ability to better engage viewers. While the benefits may not be immediately quantifiable, video helps employees to form stronger bonds and build trust, and helps brands to create stronger emotional connections with existing and prospective customers.

So let's look at some examples of how 'human touch' video communication adds value to organizations and what makes video so effective.

Whenever authenticity is important, video is critical. Consider Obama's mesmerizing Amazing Grace tribute: being able to watch him as he sang helped to heighten the emotion and better convey his message.

In the corporate world, videos of people who are indelibly associated with a particular brand not only make those brands more authentic but more human too: for example, Richard Branson and Virgin, Tim Cook and Apple. Whether it is good or bad news, visionary pronouncements, product launches, or customer stories, videos of brand ambassadors help to bring the brand to life and make it more authentic.

While video offers a great way for senior executives such as Branson to communicate with their employees, partners and customers, it is also ideal for helping to identify and promote more junior talent within an organization. This ultimately benefits both the individual and the organization. For individuals who have a flair for being in front of the camera, appearing on video raises their profile, making them instantly more recognizable and more approachable. Appearing on a business video can lead to bigger opportunities within the organization, as well as additional profile-building opportunities such as invitations to speak at conferences and other industry events.

Video also has a strong part to play in team bonding, helping to bring together geographically dispersed groups working in different time zones who may otherwise not feel a great sense of belonging. Using video for team communications helps to build relationships between remote team members in a way that email and conference calls can't; it also makes it much easier to recognize and bond with team members on the occasions that you do meet in person!

To sum up, the human and personal aspects of video are at the heart of what makes it such an effective business tool. Yes, there are ways to measure video ROI, but it's important not to ignore the softer, more subtle benefits that won't show up on those ROI charts. Whether you are intent on world domination or simply on building stronger bonds between team members, adding the human touch with video can help your employees and your organization to flourish.