Presentation best practices for engaging employee communication


You’ve just completed a really cool project: communicating a revamped Performance Management and Pay System (No more ratings! Higher bonuses!).

This project was a wonderful challenge for you, since you got a chance to develop an internal communication strategy, while creating an interesting array of tactics, including:

  • A visual identity
  • A manager’s guide
  • An agenda and presentation for a web briefing session for managers
  • Channels, include a mobile-enabled microsite, electronic screens and emails
  • A survey to measure employee feedback about communication and knowledge about the new system

Now your internal client approaches with an unusual invitation: to be a guest speaker at an upcoming HR leadership team meeting.

“My boss (the Chief Human Resources Officer) and colleagues know that we successfully introduced the performance management and pay changes,” your client explains. “But you know that we work very autonomously, so I didn’t really involve my colleagues, or even get my boss’s approval.

“So I’d like to show the team what we did and how we did it,” says your client. “I’ll talk about the program itself. Can you present for 10 minutes about how we communicated the change?”

You say yes, but the truth is that you’re a bit nervous. The HR leadership team is a high-powered group of people, who get bored easily. How can you create an engaging session while demonstrating the value of your work?

Here are 3 things to remember:

  1. Don’t break out the PowerPoint yet (and possibly never). The last thing anyone wants is to have to listen to another dog-and-pony presentation—and this impatience is even worse for low-attention high performers (like leaders). So consider how you can show your work in a different way. When our consulting team participated in an exercise based on this case study, team members came up with the suggestion that the communicator display the deliverables around the room, in poster session form, then ask participants to walk around and interact with the examples.
  2. Get participants involved early. Your internal client starts with the assumption that his colleagues didn’t pay much attention while communication was taking place. But, since HR leaders are employees, too, it’s likely that they got the gist of what was happening. So our team suggested starting the session with a text poll (We often use PollEverywhere) to ask HR leaders about the communication challenges the project faced. It’s a great way to compare their perspectives from your initial assessment.
  3. Keep participants actively engaged. Since you start out by involving HR leaders, keep the party going. Even in a short, 10-minute session, you can build in at least two opportunities for interaction. In this case, our team recommended asking for feedback after showing the work deliverables, using these simple questions: What worked well that we can use going forward when communicating our programs? What would we change going forward—and how can we use these suggestions to communicate in the future?

This approach is simple, but it sure beats the traditional “we came, we saw, we conquered” presentation.

Seize every opportunity to show your work—but make sure you make the experience meaningful. 

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