How many times a day do you get a text, email, or notification? And how many times do you skim over it without really digesting the message? Chances are, your employees are doing the same thing to your internal messages.
It’s not your fault. Studies show that our brains fill in the blanks when given enough context clues to support our expectations. People skim information because they instinctively fill in the rest. For those with particularly monotonous daily tasks, this can lead to unintentional errors on the job and in life.
So how does this affect internal communications at the workplace? Maybe you’re sending weekly reports or newsletters that employees have steadily stopped reading, or presenting important information at a regular meeting that often goes over everyone’s heads. The methods we use to keep people’s attention are just as important as the ones we use to grab that attention in the first place.
Here are a few ways to both attain and retain effective communication results in the workplace:
Insert a Different Form of Media
The usage of GIFs, memes, and even TikTok videos has become commonplace. There was a time when using social media in the workplace was frowned upon. But these days having some sort of social media presence has become an integral part of any business structure. This is where the relatability factor comes into play.
As we evolve, so does our language, and social media is a catalyst for such changes. When your friend sends you a meme or a video, this is usually their way of trying to stay connected with you in an ever busy world.
Sure, your friend could send you an essay length text or email telling you how much you mean to them, but that would require the brain to work and absorb the information differently and with a bit more mental effort. When this information is accompanied by supporting media, not only is it less daunting, but appeals to us in a way that says, “This person’s brain thinks the way mine does.”
There isn’t any reason a daily report can’t be accompanied by a relevant meme, or a meeting can’t include a recent viral video that might strengthen the bonding of the team. Strategic use of multimedia options vastly improves the readability of internal communications.
What to look out for:
If it is appropriate for the workplace and doesn’t seem too out of place, this can be a great way to get your team’s attention back on track. Be careful not to use anything inappropriate, distracting or irrelevant.
Use Appropriate Colors and Fonts
This concept applies mostly to newsletters, handbooks, spreadsheets and the like, but is still a very important communication tool. Front styles are important, of course, but the general rule of thumb is that you’re fine as long as you avoid comic sans. Instead, font color is just as or even more important than style.
Our brains respond to colors in a variety of ways. Green is the most soothing color to the human eye, while red causes us to be more alert. It’s no wonder that statistics are presented in charts with green fonts indicating something positive and negative information in red.
Keep in mind there is an entire rainbow of colors to choose from. Whatever information you are sending can be enhanced with the right color combinations and can even make the information easier to retain.
What to look out for:
Nobody likes to look at harsh colors for too long. It can be straining on the eyes and actually make it more difficult to take in information. Stick to softer tones and color combos whenever possible to maintain readability.
Finding aesthetically pleasing color palettes is as easy as a google search. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with complementary colors and other easy-to-remember design rules. A few minutes of study can have a huge impact on your visual communications.
You’ve already included a relevant meme or video. Your email contains eye catching and appealing colors. You’ve gained your workers’ attention, but now you must keep them engaged.
To reiterate, it’s best to leave little to the imagination in order to decrease the chances of our brains auto filling information. If your business contains this kind of flexibility, try to keep internal communications from growing too repetitive. Some ways to do this could include adding trivia facts in your emails, or even a ‘riddle of the day’ in your daily reports. If people have something unpredictable to look forward to, not only are they more likely to open your emails in the first place, but they may actually engage with them as well.
Even something as simple as hiding a hidden message that requires someone to absorb everything you’ve sent can be effective. The brain won’t automatically assume that the message will be a repeat of something they’ve seen dozens of times if they are already aware that there will be something out of place to look out for. This breaks up the monotony and makes it more fun.
However, it’s still important to keep things relevant. Is today an obscure holiday? Did something amusing recently happen that the company can’t stop discussing? Or, keep it simple and shoutout birthdays, anniversaries, or even important project milestones. In addition to your memes and colors, a general correspondence theme can help make your communication methods more memorable.
What to look out for:
Be careful not to make your side games or themes too distracting. If people are spending all their time trying to figure out your riddle, the entire point becomes lost. Make sure you can integrate your ideas smoothly.
Tailor to Your Company Culture
The number one rule for all of the above tips is to not offend. Use discretion when deciding how to embellish your communication methods. Know what is work appropriate and what should be refrained from the workplace all together.
You may just become a company favorite whose correspondence will be regularly anticipated.