Members of Forbes Communications Council offer tips on fostering clear internal communication.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
Many companies tend to be so laser-focused on optimizing their communication with customers that they may disregard the need for clear and efficient communication with their employees, as well. Without clear corporate communication strategies in place, internal messaging may easily get muddled in the transmission, resulting in confused and disengaged employees.
From using the right tone and being concise to ensuring consistency across all channels and leveraging the right technological tools, there are several ways business leaders can create crystal-clear internal communications. Fourteen members of Forbes Communications Council examine some of the most popular strategies that can help leaders send more precise internal messages so that everyone understands what’s going on and no one feels omitted or singled out.
1. Clearly Define Your Target Audience
One key tip to ensure internal communications are clear is to first define the target audience and then identify what action they need to take. Once the communication is written, it’s helpful to run it by someone from the target audience. It should resonate and be clear on what the point is. – Heidi Bullock, Tealium
2. Keep It Brief
Crafting internal communications can be challenging, especially when discussing a sensitive or controversial topic. Clear internal communications keep it brief and concise and use plain language. A key to successful internal communications is feedback from different reviewers, in different roles and with different perspectives to ensure that the message will be understood across the business. – Laurie Hood, Mobilewalla
3. Be Committed To Transparency
Transparency is often what we strive for with internal communications. It’s very important, but to really drive a message home each person needs to understand how their day-to-day work is contributing to what you are communicating. That shifts transparency from simply understanding to empowerment. – Robert Wallace, Tallwave
4. Have A Multichannel Approach
5. Consider Language Diversity
Too often, our communication messages are bogged down in jargon or overly-formal language. Make sure the tone is straightforward, clear, and succinct. Consider the diversity of primary languages and cultures and how the word choice could be perceived for each. Most importantly, test your message among a small group and ask specific questions to gauge reception before widespread distribution. – Laura Cuttill, Advertas
6. Amp Up Your Creativity
Creativity can go a long way in creating employee buy-in on internal communications. We just conducted an elevator pitch competition, inviting the sales team to record a one-minute version of our new positioning. We had 100% participation and everyone watched the entries. While there was only one winner, watching all of those entries really drilled the new messaging into everyone’s heads! – Daniel Rodriguez, Simplr
7. Speak From The Heart
Speaking from the heart in simple language makes the mark. Every leader has a distinct style of empathy, energy and ease. Passionate and personalized messaging goes a long way to making employees connect with internal communications. This, coupled with simplicity in words, brings in a great combination of clarity and sensitivity. – Arati Mukerji, Tata Communications Ltd
8. Consider Who Delivers The Message
Think about the specific content of the communication and then think about who it should come from. Oftentimes, all internal communications defaults to the CEO. It’s perfectly natural and works if you are a small organization. However, if you are a mid- to large-scale organization with different divisions and stakeholders, specific communications relating to their divisions should perhaps come from them. – Reenita Malhotra Hora, SRI International
9. Host Daily Video Meetings
Host a 15-minute stand-up video meeting every morning with your team. With remote work, it’s easy to assign new tasks with a quick Slack message or email, trusting your team to fully understand them. I’ve found this can result in projects being misconstrued or buried in their messages. Daily stand-ups allow you to regroup on new assignments, talk through priorities and ensure everyone is in sync. – Rick Ramos, HealthJoy
10. Use A Strong Subject Line
Create a strong subject line and lead sentence. Make sure your employees know why the email is important and why they should take time to read and understand it. If you don’t quickly connect, it’s likely the message(s) may get lost, skimmed over or not read at all. – Beth More, Mazars USA LLP
11. Repeat And Repurpose Your Message
Repetition is key. Start with identifying the top key messages for your target audience. Then, repurpose these messages across multiple platforms and channels to maximize the number of impressions on your audience. Bonus: It’s also helpful, when possible and relevant, to add a call to action. This encourages your audience to engage and helps cut through the one-way communication clutter. – Hannah Vazzana, Hilton Grand Vacations
12. Answer Questions
Focus on answering the “what” and “why” questions. What is the purpose of the internal communication? Why is it needed? What will change? What’s in it for me? Why is it important? Internal communications are often too long and too sensitive. Communications should be short and to the point to make it easier for everyone to understand and internalize the message. – Brittain Ladd, PULSE Integration
13. Recognize The Value Of Everyone’s Time
Start with recognizing the value of everyone’s time. Then, demonstrate this understanding by keeping your communications short and succinct. Get to the point, remove words that don’t add value and be clear about the next steps. If you are asking for an action, mention the date you’re expecting a reply and offer to answer questions. – Jennifer Best, AAE Speakers
14. Leverage Relevant Technology
Leverage technology to coerce and incentivize attention to detail as a culture in the organization. A good example of this was a mobile app I came across that gamified macro company-wide and micro team-centric communications. Every action, poll, campaign, directive, etc. comes with gamified incentives or penalties where attention to detail is rewarded beyond blunt execution. – A.J Minai, Subture