Executives can learn a lot from Youtubers

Ole Tillmann became known as a moderator on “Top of the Pops” and is now a communication coach. In an interview, he reveals why executives should be storytellers and what they can learn from Youtubers.

Communication is his daily bread, the camera his loyal companion: Ole Tillmann knows how to captivate others with his words. He passes this on to executives, startups and keynote speakers with his Berlin design and innovation consultancy Peak. But the 40-year-old was not known as a communication coach. At the turn of the millennium, Ole Tillmann played a role in the RTL soap “Unter uns”. He also moderated the music show “Top of the Pops” and stood in front of the camera with pop stars like Justin Timberlake and Ronan Keating. Since leaving RTL, the trained actor has been passing on his experience to his customers. Ole Tillmann has prepared over 350 speakers for the TedX conference in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich since 2009 for lectures and keynotes.

The native of Cologne sees himself as a motivator. His self-imposed goal: to empower people to express their ideas and thoughts in such a way that they reach their audience in the best possible way. For this drive, Ole Tillmann founded the innovation consultancy Peak in 2012, with which he offers workshops. He advocates the thesis that managers should think like professional Youtubers in their communication, especially in times of remote teams.

t3n: As far as I know, Rezo has not yet published a tutorial on leadership. What do you mean when you say that executives should be based on Youtubers?

Ole Tillmann: Managers have to learn to prepare their communication in such a way that it can also be understood as best as possible in a virtual room and by a decentralized team. In other words: You have to communicate more visually and linguistically more precisely than usual, for example mastering the handling of written words and their visual preparation. Many have already learned to produce professional videos in order to lead their team optimally – and orientate themselves towards professional Youtubers.

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t3n: How does that look in detail?

Like Youtubers, executives should act as a personal brand. You have to produce content and thus create learning moments for your team. An example: I recognize a certain pattern in a business process. I have to communicate this pattern to my team so that my employees know what they have to do. This is nothing more than content creation. A great advantage of communication via video is strongly related to the current situation: If my employee works in the home office and is perhaps also busy with their children, I as a manager have to ask myself the question: How can I get my message to the employee ? Video content is location-independent, scalable and asynchronous – my team approach and my instructions can be called up at any time.

t3n: When I look at the program on YouTube, I don’t think directly about leadership. How did you come up with the idea that executives could learn something from Youtubers?

When I look at the aspects mentioned and ask myself where this is already being practiced professionally – then it is on YouTube. Rezo is just one example, executives can look to the gaming industry too. The streaming platform Twitch has meanwhile become a living personal TV. I find what takes place there extremely exciting. And with the pandemic that has thrown us all into the home office, a glance at Twitch or Youtube shows all the more how we can make the best possible use of the new communication channels.

People in management positions are creative content creators, they are storytellers.

t3n: You yourself has started your career as an actor and presenter when there was neither YouTube nor Twitch. How much of it still flows into your work as a coach today?

This is what I draw from. I myself always try to achieve the greatest possible simplification without losing the depth of the source and the subject. And it is in this area that the greatest difficulties often lie. To convey the complex in a simple and clear way. This applies on the stage as well as for executives, for “Top of the Pops” and for the business conference. I always ask myself the same question: what is the essence of what I want to tell? What is the story?

t3n: If you want to convey a topic in a business context, do you have to pack it into a story?

Correctly. “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” This quote from the American journalist Ira Glass gets to the point. We also see that on YouTube: If we look at the extreme athletes who take us with them in their videos in a first-person narrative, we can almost feel what they have experienced. Applied to managers, this means that I have to find the interesting parts of a story and incorporate them into my presentation. Where are the moments in a business strategy that are really exciting and important to me? And how can I get that across so that my team can experience this enthusiasm?

The t3n guide: leadership from the home office

t3n: In other words, managers should transfer their feelings to their team?

Exactly. There is the theory of neural coupling. By this is meant a process in which the brain activity of a listener mirrors that of the speaker. This creates a kind of copy of what the speaker actually experienced during the experience he is reporting on. So the brain activity of my audience or my team adapts to mine. This is important for executives: Your emotional state, your knowledge of your topics is transferred to your team. The other way around: If a manager is not clear about a topic for himself, it is difficult for him to convey clarity to his team. People in management positions are creative content creators, they are storytellers.

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