For District Leaders: Amplify Your Leadership Voice in the Midst of Covid-19 Challenges
By Bob Riefstahl
As a district leader, adjusting the way you communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic can significantly improve your effectiveness.
Just like your teachers, students and parents, as a district leader you have been forced to find new ways to effectively communicate. Public meetings have been kept to a minimum, and one-on-one communication is now a rarity. Just like your staff, communication has been reduced to emails and ZOOM or Teams chats. Fortunately, there is something you can do to punch up your communication even under the restrictions of the pandemic.
Sending videos to your school leadership and teachers is an excellent replacement for public meetings. Businesses have found that recorded video from leaders is often more effective than live town halls. Video can drive internal initiatives while connecting education professionals at all levels. By sending ongoing video communiqués, administrators can efficiently touch base with every corner of their district or school to get important initiatives moving.
Deliver Updates That Actually Get Absorbed
Research shows that we start to ignore things that become too familiar. This natural tendency extends to gradually seeing daily or weekly “update” emails in our inbox. Because of the familiarity of the text, our eyes tend to glaze over the materials, making emails gradually go from barely read to never opened. You may assume that your emails are effective, but studies show that is not the case. Your school administrators receive hundreds of emails per week – sometimes per day. The simple fact is that you can do better.
With videos, people have a much more active range of stimuli with which to engage. Rather than staring at black letters on a white background, we have people we know speaking directly to the camera with their own voice. Visual aids and even music can accompany the videos, creating an emotional experience in addition to an informative one.
Over time, you will notice more consistent engagement in your initiatives. Administrative updates are vital for informing strategy and helping people adjust their behavior, consistency and execution.
Monitor Views and Engagement Stats Through the Robust Analytics of Cloud Video Hosting Solutions
Modern video platforms like Vidyard and others allow the senders of videos to view and monitor engagement statistics. When sending videos to staff members, you can see overall viewing statistics such as how long people watched the video and whether they watched it to completion. This helps you gauge the effectiveness of your video and your recording. It also helps you determine what to send in the next video. When it comes to sending important updates, thought leadership, and strategy to your leadership and staff, making sure that those in leadership roles actually watch your videos can become an important facet of developing a unified school district culture.
Connect with Your Leadership and Staff
An administrative leader that appears in front of the camera and speaks in her or his own voice is a far more impressionable experience than reading text in an email or document. Not only can the words you say within these videos affect positive change and inspire team members, but because it is coming directly from you, you can foster connections with your viewership. Emails can be mis-read, and the tone and true meaning are often lost on the reader. With video, having your team members feel as if they are engaged in a personable relationship with you can help them be more honest during interactions while preventing resentment that can often grow under disconnected or invisible leadership. And unlike live video chats, you can edit and make sure you send exactly the right message with the right tone.
Connecting with Parents and other Community Stakeholders
As you build confidence and skills in your video communications you can shift some of your efforts to the parents and other community stakeholders. Using videos to address the interests and concerns of your constituency help solidify your leadership, deliver clarity in direction and rally support for initiatives that require their participation. This is especially true for funding initiative and bond issues during the COVID-19 crisis.
Improving Your Skills
Minor weekly video updates can be relatively quick to write, produce, and send. As you may have already experienced, the more you do something, the better you get at it. If you are producing 52 small videos a year, you have gained skills and expertise with producing videos in general that can translate to improved outward communications.
Changing circumstances call for different skill sets to be effective. The COVID-19 crisis has mandated a new way to communicate, and the challenges you face can be turned into opportunities for success for yourself and your district, ultimately translating into success for your learners and your community.
About the author
Bob Riefstahl founded 2Win! Global on the simple concept that if we focus on more than best practices and correct our bad practices (as Bob calls them, “Crimes”) then we separate ourselves from the competition. Bob is a thoughtful, practical senior executive with a passion for helping education and industry professionals advance their careers and their lives. In the Virtual Classroom 2.0 course for education, Bob reveals his secrets for making the recording of personal videos easy, effective and fast.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.