Every few weeks I get a call about producing a “CEO broadcast,” a “CEO podcast” or a “CEO audio message.” Essentially these are all the same thing: an audio version of a message from the organization’s chief executive officer, so he or she can reach out to employees using a medium other than text. To be sure, most CEOs continue to communicate within the organization with emails, memos and newsletters, but they’re increasingly adding audio to the mix.
Why use audio?
The warmth of the voice imbues a message with sincerity, humanity and personality. Most CEOs wish that they could personally visit every site and department in their organization, shake hands with each employee, and have lunch with all the teams. But unless the organization is very small, this just isn’t possible. So the CEO broadcast is the next best thing.
Focusing on the CEO message
Yes, we need to talk about technology, but even more important is the message itself – the tone of the message and the content of the message. Do spend some time planning this. If you are the Director of Communications or the VP of Employee Engagement or whatever – whoever is working with the CEO on his or her message – it’s important to invest the time to plan the message. Doing it on the fly is probably not the most effective way to proceed. I promise that you'll regret it later.
Producing the CEO audio message
After you’ve decided on the messaging, it’s time to think about technology. The easiest way to produce an audio message is to use a handheld digital recorder. But don’t rely on the built-in microphone. Spend $100 or so on a good-quality microphone. In a pinch, if you don’t have a portable recorder, you can use an iPhone with a mic/earbud headset. Just be sure the mic is placed properly.
Be sure to record in an uncompressed format, such as WAV, for best quality. Also make sure that your recording mode is set for 44.1 KHz and not 48 KHz. This will ensure that your file will sound fine if people listen to it with a Flash player. (Have you ever heard an audio file where the person sounds like Daffy Duck? It was probably recorded in 48 KHz.)
If you need to remove any errors or stumbles, you can edit the audio file using Audacity, which is a free, open-source program. You can also add a musical intro or other additional audio material, such as a call to action at the end, perhaps using the voice of someone else within the organization. The final step is to save the audio file as an MP3. This is a compressed format, which makes the file smaller.
Most people speak with more passion and energy when they stand, rather than sit.
Also, it is possible to record the CEO’s audio message remotely, when you’re not in the same room. You can record over the phone or Skype if you need to. The quality won’t be as high as in person, but it’s still pretty good.
Distributing the CEO audio message
Some organizations actually produce true podcasts with RSS feeds, but more likely, the audio file will be placed on the intranet or even emailed.
More resources for you
A couple of years ago I produced an episode of the Trafcom News Podcast on the topic of CEO podcasts. Here is a link to it.
If you need help creating your CEO’s audio message, I offer coaching to help you get started, or to actually produce your audio broadcasts for you.