7 Ways to Improve Your Internal Communications
Updated: Jan 25
Many of your colleagues are tired and counting down the days until the holidays, but you still need to share something important before year end.
How can you change things up to increase the chance of employees reading/hearing that key message, and keep them listening into the new year?
Read below for some ideas on how to improve your internal communications without adding to email clutter.
This means write like you’d speak and use as little jargon as possible. Your messages will be easier for your colleagues to read and more engaging because they will be more succinct and accessible.
If you’re used to writing in a very professional, polished way and it’s hard to adjust to a more conversational (yet still professional) tone, try sending yourself voice notes with the message. Then use those voice notes to craft your text. By speaking your ideas first vs. writing them down, the message will sound more human.
If you have someone ghost writing your messages for you, invite them to attend a few different types of meetings so they can hear how you speak and ensure the messages reflect your style and tone. If you have favourite catch phrases or ways of expressing yourself, sharing those with your ghostwriter will help them sound like you, too.
Less is more
It can be tempting to include every single detail in a message, but sometimes – especially with a significant announcement, change or update – the email does not need to include all of the details. It should include the most pertinent information, next steps (or if you’re assessing next steps, when you’ll provide more information), who to reach out to for questions and, when needed, a call-to-action.
If there is more information, you can share those details through an FAQ where employees can find the answers to their specific questions.
If you’re committing to more information later, ensure you provide it in order to build trust and interest in your future communications.
Timing is everything
Are you pushing out a communication before a big holiday or to meet a deadline because you want it ticked off your to-do list or because it's the best time for your audience to receive it? If it’s the former, wait and plan to send it out when it makes the most sense for your colleagues.
Think carefully about what reading this communication would feel like to those receiving it and, with this in mind, the best time to send it out. Your colleagues are your audience and the communication needs to speak to them, not just in terms of what you're saying, but by also considering the optimum timing for them to see and digest the message.
What’s in it for me?
Business changes and large-scale decisions can be newsworthy, yet not actually impact a large part of the colleague base. Always answer “What’s in it for me?” so employees can link the development or announcement to their own work, team or department. If the update doesn't relate to a large portion of the team or company but is still important, clearly state in your messaging who is impacted and how, and who is not, so colleagues know their position in relation to the message right away. They can skim the rest or come back later if they don't have time and it doesn't impact them.
Target where possible
Only send the communication to the people that need it first-hand. This will reduce internal communications fatigue. If it's an update that’s widely shareable, but not confidential or sensitive, for example, house it somewhere for colleagues to pick up at their leisure, e.g., the company intranet page.
If you do limit the audience, though, and the news could come up in team huddles or elsewhere, share it widely with the management team and ensure they understand the update so they can speak about it with their teams and cascade the message further, if needed.
If you’re concerned about democratizing information and would rather overcommunicate than accidentally leave people out, there are excellent internal communications platforms you can use that allow employees to opt-in or out for certain information and updates. More on that below…
Use your most senior stakeholders sparingly
It can be tempting to send every communication from your most senior stakeholders, but they’re best used sparingly and for when you need all eyes on a communication, e.g. strategy, large-scale change, key announcements, critical updates, etc.
Ask yourself, is there someone else on the executive committee or in the leadership team that could send this update? Or, do we even need an email and could managers share this with their teams over a call instead using a simple slide deck?
If all communications come from the most senior stakeholder, people may start ignoring their emails, and that’s the opposite of what you want to happen. Theirs are the ones everyone should read.
Change the format up
As communicators we often lean heavily on text because many of us love writing, however, let me challenge you with this: could you convey the same message through a video, a team huddle, a great story told by a few stakeholders at a live event, or maybe, a quick lunch and learn session instead?
The more varied the formats and the less email, the greater the opportunity to engage colleagues in a fresh and inviting way so that when that important communication does come through via email, employees have some bandwidth – and interest – to check it out.
Changing the format up also creates an opportunity for two-way communication with colleagues which is always great, especially when you're talking through change or any kind of uncertainty.
Now, if you’re looking to completely change the game on internal communications beyond email, webinars, newsletters and the traditional channels, there are terrific internal communications platforms out there to help you innovate.
Most recently, I enjoyed using Social Chorus (now FirstUp) which aims to help companies connect with employees at the right time, with the right information, where they want to receive it.
In addition to improving colleague engagement, because they’re now receiving the information they want where they want it, it has great analytical capabilities beyond email open and click rates so you can further hone and target messaging.
Moreover, instead of the standard emails, newsletters and memos, you can communicate through pictures, notes (like a tweet) or polls, similar to how we’re used to communicating on social media today. And just like social media, their platform offers different ways to interact with the messaging (vs. making communications one-way) through commenting, liking, sharing and tagging. It is also 100% mobile friendly.
Listen to the podcast below to learn more about increasing engagement for internal communications through a platform like Social Chorus.
And don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything I can do to help you craft or hone your internal communications.
All my very best for another year of great communications!