We conduct a lot of employee surveys. What we’ve learned over time is that the #1 issue most organizations struggle with is communications. Yet despite this, some organizations communicate very well. Here are five things you can do to become one of those organizations:
1. Make it interactive
This is critical. The best way to create engagement is through interaction. Effective communications is a two-way process. And don’t think you’re accomplishing this by ending a presentation with, “Does anyone have any questions?” If you’re the boss and the group is larger than just a few people, don’t be surprised when no one says anything.
The next time you’re communicating with a group, do this: After delivering your message, ask people to pair up with the person next to them (or, in the case of a very large group, have them group into 3’s or 4’s). Then ask them to discuss one item such as: what they like most about what they’ve heard, what most concerns them, or their #1 question. Next, have a person from each pairing or group report out a highlight from their discussion. Finally, thank the group for their input and communicate next steps as required.
Doing this conveys a powerful message: You value them. You value their feedback and input. Now you’re creating engagement.
2. Make it visual
People like to watch! Recognizing this, many companies now produce a video newsletter. It’s simply more captivating to watch people than it is to read text. It humanizes the communication. It conveys meaning through expressions, tone of voice, and movement. And it creates a closer connection with employees at remote locations (think of the power of FaceTime, for example).
Don’t forget to make your videos interactive. You could begin each video with employees’ reactions to or questions from the previous video. Or you could do a real time Q&A in your videos.
Video is only going to become more popular.* However, if you commit to going down this path …
3. Make it relatable
Having a personality-challenged executive read from a script with a monotone voice is not going to make a visceral connection with anyone. Video or no video. You have a fabulous medium at your disposal, so make your videos relatable!
First, lose the script. You’re not reading the evening news. Have talking points and speak in a conversational voice. Next, dress in a way that helps you come across as accessible. And do I have to tell you to get out from behind the desk? Walk through your plant, engage people in their offices … get out to where the real people are doing the real work!
If you want to build anticipation and then capture attention, you need to keep people guessing: What are they going to do next?! So have some fun, mix up the format, and keep people guessing … while staying true to the purpose of the video.
4. Make it brief
Tee up your topic. Make the hit. Wrap it up. Boom! Don’t test the outer limit of shrinking attention spans. The last thing you want is to build the association that watching / listening to / reading your communication is going to be a project. Keep it brief!
5. Make it regular
How excited do you get about a blog that gets posted every week, or is it every 2 weeks, or is it every who-knows-when-the-next-one-is-going-to-be-released?
If you’re going to communicate, communicate regularly. Let people know how often you’ll be communicating and then rigorously follow through. It creates anticipation and manages expectations.
Most organizations struggle with communications. But it’s a matter of choice. Choose to make your communications interactive, visual, relatable, brief and regular.
Make it happen.