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December 19, 2022

What TikTok Can Teach Us About Communicating at Work

If you’re a TikTok or Instagram Reels user, then you know how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole — Before you realize it, you’re getting sucked into funny trends, product reviews, and tutorials. Well, this might surprise you, but I think we can learn a thing or two from these apps to strengthen our approach to presenting and communicating at work.

More and more people are turning to short-form video platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels to connect with others and entertain themselves. In fact, over 800 million users worldwide are on TikTok every month – making it the fastest-growing social media platform in the world.

In addition to TikTok, Instagram has also seen success with its Reels feature. Reels was launched in 2020 and allows users to create 15-second videos set to music or other audio clips. It’s estimated that Instagram Reels now has more than 100 million users worldwide.

First, a caveat: As you’ve probably noticed, not everything on these platforms is positive. There’s plenty of negativity, misinformation, and crude content – so tread with caution and filter out what’s unhelpful.

With so many people creating and watching these videos, it begs the question: What can we learn about how to present information in a more compelling way?

Here are some things TikTok and Reels can teach us about communicating at work:

Say it clearly and quickly.

TikTok’s internal research found that over 63% of videos with the best click-through rates highlighted their message within the first three seconds. In other words, understand the point you’re trying to communicate and get to it quickly. 

Connect with what’s current. 

Small talk and workplace presentations are more engaging when they include nods to pop culture trends, movies, shows, or music. This is a great way to connect with others on a personal level and incorporate something relatable. 

Tell a story.

Another interesting nugget from TikTok’s own research: Nearly 50% of the best-performing ads on the platform told their message in an “emotionally appealing” way. Storytelling is a powerful tool for communication. It draws an audience into your message in a deeper way.

Keep it real. 

It’s important to communicate with authenticity – our audience will always know when we’re not being ourselves. 

Get creative.

When it comes to presentations, don’t be afraid to incorporate some creativity, whether that be a metaphor, a fun theme, music, images, or a personal talent. Online videos that deliver a message through creativity get more attention.

Use humor.

It’s clear from watching TikTok or Instagram Reels that humor is the foundation of almost all viral videos. That’s because humor is one of the best ways to elicit a reaction and boost engagement. So when it’s appropriate, cracking a joke or integrating humor in other ways might be just the thing you need to get someone’s attention.

Show a transformation.

Great storytellers know the power of growth and change. We are captivated by stories that show something – or someone – evolving to become better or different. Spiderman, Cinderella, and Harry Potter are all examples of this! 

Ask a question, involve others.

The best presentations solicit audience engagement; the speaker asks questions, poses hypotheticals, or requests feedback. Do this and your audience will be way more engaged. 

Know your audience.

Okay, so TikTok describes this as “shooting natively,” AKA making sure the video format is appropriate to TikTok (think iPhone vs. movie screen). But we’re taking our own spin on this: read the room to know what to bring to your communication style. Are you having a lighthearted conversation with colleagues in the break room? Or are you presenting the quarterly earnings to the executive board? These different audiences require different strategies. 

Include a call to action.

When you’re pitching yourself, giving a presentation, or introducing a new concept to the office, you want to leave your audience with clear directions of what to do next. Whether it’s as simple as “Here, take my business card” to as large as “Sign on with our company.” 

In addition to these tips, TikTok actually offers advice to creators to drive their performance. We found that a lot of their advice on how to succeed on the platform could also relate to communicating at work, so check ’em out if you want even more pointers! 

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