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Involving Employees in Process Improvement

What is your least favorite thing to do? For some people it’s cleaning their house, for others it’s going to the grocery store and for some it’s working out.  It’s not that they don’t like the end result.  A fresh clean house, a fridge full of groceries or the feeling after finishing a workout are all very satisfying and produce tangible results.  They will tell you that they don’t enjoy the process.

This concept can also apply to business.  How does your business engage employees to share ideas to make the business better?  Involvement opportunities drive engagement, particularly with millennials.  Everyone wants to work smarter, not harder.

One way to involve employees is by implementing a processes improvement program. Start with a survey, suggestion request or contest.  Employee feedback can help you quickly target where you can improve and unlock potential.  Ask employees to provide suggestions on how and where the business can grow, innovate, save money, or do things a different way.  Some categories to consider are:

  • Reducing waste and time
  • Decreasing costs
  • Improving efficiency
  • Enhancing customer experiences
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Promoting collaboration across the business

Once you’ve collected employee ideas and discovered an area where you can improve, be sure to clearly communicate the new process and connect it to the process improvement program.  Thank those who participated for their input, describe what is changing and explain the benefits.  

Your employees are an invaluable asset.  Give them an opportunity to help improve your processes and the long-term results will benefits your business. Share your your stories with me at: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Time to Refresh Your LinkedIn Profile

As you tackle those New Year’s Resolutions, here’s another to add to the list: Update your LinkedIn profile. With more than 500 million members, LinkedIn is much more than an online billboard for your resume.  It can be an effective way to evolve your personal brand, influence others, and market yourself and your company to a massive global audience.

Use this checklist to improve your LinkedIn profile and postings:

Improve your first impression

Your photo should be clear, professional, friendly and flattering. Wear something that’s applicable to your industry.  LinkedIn profiles with photos receive 21x more views that those without photos. In the profile section, tell a little more about who you are and what you’re passionate about.  Cut out the industry jargon and be human.  For every 10 profiles, there’s one that’s memorable and it’s usually because they included something unexpected.

Strengthen your LinkedIn profile and details

Your LinkedIn profile should be as updated and dynamic as your career.  Many people fill it out once and leave it there where it quickly becomes a time capsule. The first step is to completely fill out each section: education, experience, skills, volunteerism, awards, recommendations and interests.  You can add punch by uploading videos, PowerPoints, pdfs, jpegs or other relevant content by clicking on the edit button, scrolling to the media section, and uploaded files directly from your computer.

Update your contact information

Be sure to include your updated business website, your social media channels, your company career site, and your business email and business address if you want people to be able to get in touch.  And really, isn’t that the point of social networking?

Connect and influence

LinkedIn is not just a place to find a job (or a new team member).  It’s a business networking site.  Strengthen your profile by asking trusted peers and clients for recommendations.  Update your skills.  Follow thought leaders and become an influencer yourself by posting content through LinkedIn publishing.

Link to your Twitter account

Multiply your social media reach by sharing your LinkedIn updates on Twitter.  LinkedIn provides an easy step-by-step process to do this. Just log in to your LinkedIn account and go to Privacy & Settings>Manage Twitter Settings> Add your Twitter account.

Need your executive LinkedIn profile revamped and optimized?  Get in touch: Maureen.Clayton@insight-communication.com.

Six Secrets to Trade Show Success

Exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to get some face to face time with potential customers.  Recently our company attended a national conference and trade show in Las Vegas.  It was our fourth consecutive year exhibiting at this trade show and many of the same companies we see every year were in attendance.  Some of the exhibitors always do a fantastic job, while others are missing the potential to maximize their ROI.

Here are six best practices that that you can use when preparing for and attending your company’s next trade show:

  1. Start preparing well in advance. Getting a jump on your trade show prep is vital.  Send out a preconference email to the list of attendees, map out your show strategy with your exhibit team, create product/service sales sheets, take care of any printing needs for handouts and schedule equipment and promotional item shipping.
  2. Make sure your messages are clear and consistent. The most common question I get at trade shows is “So what do you guys do?”  Each member of your sales team should be able to give a 30 second response to this question.   Determine how you want to promote your company, create an elevator speech, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
  3. Keep the messaging on your display and signage short and readable. Trade show participants move through the exhibit floor pretty quickly. All of your signage should be easily readable from the front of your booth.   One mistake that I often notice is when exhibitors cram too much information onto their signage or use fonts that are too small. Provide just enough information to make attendees stop and ask questions.
  4. Always provide giveaways. Who doesn’t like free stuff?  Providing a giveaway will draw more traffic to your booth and is a great conversation starter.  Always include your company logo or name on the product. It will remind potential customers of your interaction when they visited your booth after the conference.
  5. Stay active on social media. Most conferences will promote a hashtag to use throughout the event. Post photos, give updates, announce speaking sessions and promote your booth number using the conference hashtag.  This is a great way to drive engagement. Don’t forget to post a thank you to everyone who stopped by your booth after the conference.
  6. Schedule a post conference wrap up meeting.  It’s important to get feedback from your team while the conference is fresh on their minds.  What worked, what didn’t work? What questions did the attendees have?   What were your strongest leads and what are the next steps for contacting these potential customers?  All of this information will give you a head start when planning your next trade show.

Do you have any trade show tips? Share them with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Integrating Video into your Internal Communications Strategy

If you’re like us, you’re always looking for ways to get your message across in a new, unique, and interesting way.   One communication channel that you might not have considered is video.  Video is fast becoming the preferred channel for internal audiences because it’s the way we all consume information. Some news outlets have moved exclusively to video content and most include a video with any written content they publish.  Today’s workforce has become accustomed to learning and acquiring information through video content.

Many of your colleagues are visual learners and video content helps simplify complex information and drives engagement when you communicate your message.  Think about it. Which is more appealing– an email memo from the CEO or a quick 3-5 minute video where he or she speaks directly to your employees?

Research shows that people remember more of what they see and hear than what they read.  Video grabs your attention and is more engaging than plain text.  Seizing and retaining your audience’s attention is crucial.  When you have their attention, they’ll retain the message.

Here are some options to consider when implementing videos into your Internal Communications strategy:

  • Online training videos or tutorials
  • Monthly or quarterly updates from your leaders
  • Announcement videos for new programs or initiatives
  • Recognition videos for company milestones or exemplary achievements
  • Employee interviews and testimonials
  • Videos of companywide events, such a community service day or group activity

Now you might be thinking, “I’m not a technical person” or “That would be too difficult to implement,” but it really isn’t.  New technology has simplified video creation, editing and sharing to the point where anyone can do it.

Keep your videos short with a clear message.   There are really no limits or restrictions to how you incorporate video content into your company’s communication plan.  Think outside the box and see what ideas you can come up with.

Does your company use video content in its internal communications?  Share your experiences and ideas with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Supporting and preparing your colleagues during times of crisis

According to the National Weather Service, 2017 was a “hyperactive and catastrophic hurricane season”.  With over 3,000 deaths and $282+ billion dollars in damages it was the costliest ever in death toll and destruction.  We all remember the three major ones – Harvey, Irma and Maria and the harm they caused.

Just this week it was announced that another major storm will make landfall.  Hurricane Florence is expected to hit the coast of North Carolina this weekend and with its arrival many millions of people will be displaced and there is potential for major damage to countless homes and businesses.

It’s important that in times of crisis your business is prepared with a plan of action to communicate with employees and stakeholders.  Whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, blizzard or other natural disaster always ensure the wellbeing of your employees as they are your company’s most important asset.

  • Develop an emergency response plan with information for business offices with evacuation routes, emergency contacts, and safety procedures for your employees
  • Close your offices well in advance
  • Set up a crisis hotline or contact page where employees can get updates and stay connected
  • Make sure data backup systems are operational and fortify your office area before the disaster hits
  • Form a relief group to help recovery efforts or set up a relief fund for those effected by the disaster

Does your company have an emergency response plan? Please share your insights and ideas with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Building Brand Loyalty through Smart Social Media

The term bridezilla is not flattering but can be accurate.

Recently Courtney Duffy, a grad student at Dartmouth, booked a JetBlue weekend flight to her friend Alex’s wedding.  (She was one of the bridesmaids).  When the bride found out Courtney couldn’t stay through Monday, she emailed her and asked her to step aside and to mail her the garment so a replacement bridesmaid could wear it.

Courtney posted the exchange on Twitter with a plea to JetBlue to refund her airfare.  They did that and more. In four hours, they posted this on Twitter:

“Hey Courtney, we’ve been thinking.  The jumpsuit may have been borrowed, but we’ll bring the (Jet)Blue.  When you’re ready to patch things up, we’d like to help make your old friendship feel like a new.  A future girls’ weekend is on us.”

The story just begs for a follow up.  Will Courtney and Alex reconnect as BFFs? Can they find a replacement bridesmaid in time (and can she fit in Alex’s jumpsuit)?

The clear winner is JetBlue.  Here’s why:

  • They monitored social media channels and responded quickly
  • They delivered on the customer’s request for a refund
  • They showed the brands’ personality. Encouraging the former pals to reunite for a girls’ weekend is an unexpected and positive twist to the story.

The go-fast, digital era we’re living in requires businesses to pay attention to social media channels and act quickly.  It’s a PR game changer.  JetBlue was able to respond within a few hours to Courtney’s challenge and sweeten the deal.  That nimble response reveals their social media team is empowered to act.  In many businesses, in the time it took for internal approvals, the opportunity would have vanished, and so would the PR benefit.

When brands engage and act humane, customers respond with loyalty.  Interested in accelerating your social media presence?  Let’s connect.  Maureen.Clayton@insight-communication.com

How to Rally Internal Audiences Around Your Culture: A World Cup Story

If you’re like me you can’t get enough of the World Cup.  It’s an event that I look forward to every four years.  I have vivid memories of watching the U.S. national team play in the World Cup. You don’t forget waking up at 2 a.m. to watch the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea or standing in a packed bar in Auburn, Alabama watching the 2010 USA vs Algeria game.  These are moments that I will never forget.

But on October 10, 2017 the U.S. team lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago and was officially eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.  This was a major disappointment, but I refused to let it ruin my World Cup anticipation.  All I needed was a new team to get behind.

This was an easy decision.  The club team I support, Tottenham Hotspur, plays in England and their star player, Harry Kane, is the England captain.  I was all in on England.   I began to learn about their national team fan culture, songs, traditions, and slogans.

If you watched the U.S. team play in the last World Cup I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the chant/slogan “I believe that we will win.”  It was easy to remember, it flowed well, and it was very catchy.  By joining in on the “I believe that we will win” chant you identified yourself as a USA supporter.  For England’s supporters “Football’s Coming Home” or simply “It’s coming home” has been the rallying cry.  The slogan has brought all England supporters together and is easily identified as being unique to England.

How do you rally internal audiences and engage them around a common theme or message?  Use these best practices:

  • Develop a slogan or message that is simple and memorable.
  • Be consistent. Use the same message over and over in all your communications.  When you’re just beginning to think you can’t say it one more time, that’s when it will finally get through to someone.
  • Create an engaging visual image.  Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Your message will be more memorable when a visual is incorporated.

How does your company build engagement? Please share your stories and idea with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Summer Reading List for Communicators (or Wannabes)

Looking forward to some time off this summer? While you’re relaxing at the beach or enjoying an early start to the weekend with Summer Fridays, make time to sharpen your skills. Each of these books listed below will help you become a more effective communicator and leader.

Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace and the Will to Change, Jennifer Brown
This book could not be more timely. Every successful business must ensure that all employees experience a welcoming work environment where they can perform at their best and are challenged to grow. Jennifer shares best practices and business cases that inclusion is an opportunity to make your business better. Share the book with peers at your business and start a conversation.

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges, Amy Cuddy
You may know Amy from her viral TED Talk where she contends that adopting a power pose, like Wonder Woman, can actually make feel more confident. Her book expands on this premise with practical tips for anyone who has to pitch themselves or their ideas. If you think of a witty retort after the moment passes, this book is for you.

Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Great Presentations, Nancy Duarte
Raise your hand if you’ve sat through presentations that include 50+ slides. For years I wrapped this book up as a holiday gift to clients, hoping they would read it and realize you don’t have to put paragraphs on slides. Nancy Duarte has carved out a unique niche as a presentation expert. If that doesn’t seem very exciting, consider that within corporations, presentations are the most used channel for delivering information. This book will help you strategize the story, content, and flow to impact and influence your audience.

Sell with a Story, Paul Smith
We can all agree that storytelling is a powerful communications tool. But it takes practice to create stories that instruct, inspire and ignite action. Smith provides fascinating examples on you can take even the most technical, data-driven content and fashion a memorable story.

What are you reading this summer? Send me your picks: Maureen.Clayton@insight-communication.com.

How to Save the Audience from Your Terrible Presentation

 

 

 

 

 

This is a true story.

We recently prepared a presentation for a client that had more than 100 slides…for a one hour meeting. Do the math: If you calculate time for introductions and leave even five minutes at the end for questions, that’s a pace of two slides per minute during the presentation. A blistering pace.

Then consider the content on the slides: lots of words, tables, and occasional graphics.  Typeface size was 18 to 28 point.  You get the picture.  The intent was to hammer home thousands of ideas and facts. The client could not be swayed.  They needed every one of these slides to deliver a successful presentation. They just wanted us to “make it pretty.”

I wish I could say we used our magical powers of persuasion to enlighten them to use a strategically messaged, visually compelling presentation.  Didn’t happen.  I did wonder what it was like in the room for the audience… and the presenter.  I imagine they were both exhausted when it was over.

Presenters often start with a bunch of slides and try to cram them into a narrative—and it shows. The most effective presentations look simple because they were planned that way.

When your objective is to communicate, educate or influence, the most important work starts with the result in mind:

  • What is the point you’re trying to make or what must the audience learn?
  • Why is it important to the audience?
  • What story can you use to bring the material to life?
  • What do you want them to do with the information?

Every presentation should tell a story or take the audience on a journey. This applies even if you’re sharing quarterly returns (some of the most important stories). Once you identify your objective, develop the slides that are clear and compelling.  Be concise. Use as little text as possible.  Because you don’t want them to be reading your slides, you want them to be listening to you.

Then practice, practice, practice.  The more comfortable you are with the information, the less you’ll need to rely on slides.  Your audience will be grateful.

Do your presentations need a tune up?  Connect with us and we’ll help you transform from boring to brilliant.  Get in touch: maureen.clayton@insight-communication.com.

Growing Employee Engagement on Earth Day

Consumers today are more environmentally conscious than ever.  Businesses are learning that sustainability and environmental awareness can drive purchase decisions.  A recent study found that 58 percent of consumers consider a company’s impact on the environment in purchase decisions and are more likely to pick companies that practice sustainable habits.

Your employees care about this too.  Earth Day is April 22 and is an excellent opportunity to showcase your company’s eco-friendly initiatives and promote green behaviors with employees.

Here are a few easy-to-introduce tactics that can reduce your business carbon foot print, save money and build engagement with employees:

  • Promote your company’s recycling and green programs.
  • Ask for volunteers for a “green team” to make recommendations about green initiatives.
  • Incentivize carpooling or car sharing programs for employees.
  • Promote electronic document usage to reduce paper waste.
  • Host a lunch and learn with a guest speaker from a community or government organization to discuss emerging technologies or eco-initiatives in your area.
  • Provide recycling collection areas and educate employees about what can be recycled.
  • Instead of stocking disposable water bottles, provide employees with reusable water bottles with your company logo.
  • Sponsor a community clean-up day just for employees.

What is your company doing to promote green initiatives?  Please share your stories and idea with me: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com