I’m the father of two boys, Gabe (age 8) and Alex (almost 2). So when it’s time to watch a movie, we choose something that’s fun and doesn’t require us to hit pause every five minutes to explain what’s happening.

Not surprisingly, our choice is usually an animated movie. And my family members agree that the best of these films are by Pixar. Why?

I agree with how Chris Weller of Business Insider explains the appeal: “A deep emotional core, often based on real life, is present in Pixar movies ranging from “Toy Story” (1995) to “Inside Out” (2015). It is what makes the movies so engaging for all ages.”

Pixar understands “that the most important stories resonate with people because they appeal to some core truth about being alive—regardless of whether those stories are seen through the eyes of monsters, clownfish, robots, or cars,” writes Weller.

The Gatti family also likes Pixar movies’ funny parts—and, in all cases, (Hola, “Coco”), the songs. Songs are very powerful and can easily change a person’s state of mind.

Although you probably like Pixar movies, too, you may not realize that studying these now classics can help you create better videos for employees. Even if you have a limited budget and creative restrictions, you can still use some of Pixar’s successful elements to make your employee videos more compelling.

Here’s how:

Showcase the real, quirky, fascinating personalities of your leaders and employees. Where is it written that the people in your videos have to be dry and corporate? In “Finding Nemo,” a nervous clownfish (voiced by Albert Brooks) goes on a desperate search to find his adventurous lost son Nemo (Alexander Gould) with the help of a lovably loopy Dory (Ellen DeGeneres). They’re only fish, after all, yet each character is unique and unforgettable. 

To make a leader relatable and memorable to employees on camera, you need to let his or her true character shine through. You can do this by ditching the script and asking the leader some simple questions off camera. You’re more likely to get candid and compelling responses that will resonate with viewers.


Tell a story. It’s hard to imagine a plot as creative as “Coco”: Miguel, a 12-year-old boy living in Saint Cecilia, Mexico, wants nothing more than to be a singer and guitarist. Unfortunately, Miguel’s family has forbidden music ever since his great-great-grandfather abandoned his wife and child to pursue his art. So Miguel goes on a journey into the Land of the Dead to find his ancestor and understand his family’s history.

Your company’s stories may not be quite as fantastic, but I bet there are lots of absorbing tales to tell. For example, we produced a video for a pharmaceutical company where people gave accounts about doing the right thing even when it was difficult. These real-life examples brought tension to the video, which helped viewers relate and feel intrigued.

Telling a good story is also a great opportunity to transform drab employee videos into engaging channels, shift peoples’ perspectives and motivate them to do something.

Share emotion. As Weller writes in Business Insider, you may start watching a Pixar movie because it’s beautiful and action-packed, but you keep watching it because it tugs at your heart. Take “Inside Out,” which is actually about emotions—and the lesson that even sadness can help you learn and grow.

I find that one of the biggest problems with employee videos is they lack emotion—they’re not even cheerful, they’re just flat. People thrive on emotion, and they’re more likely to believe an idea and take action if the video conveys the right emotional tone. But don’t go over the top and start jumping on couches (like Tom Cruise did on Oprah) or your audience might perceive this as a bit staged.

Video has the opportunity to be a multi-dimensional and memorable experience for employees. Just remember that unique characters, stories and emotion are key ingredients for compelling content.

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