Four tips for streamlined communication from your remote office
By Dawn Wiese
At Plaid, we’re all about accessibility and relevance through virtual communication and education. With COVID-19, more people are moving out of their physical office spaces and classrooms and into newly established home offices – some working from card tables set up in family rooms, and others kicked back on the bed with the laptop open. While there are those who joke that it’s absolutely the time to buy stock in Netflix (probably true), most people, by nature, crave structure and productivity in their work environment. And, of course, you want to stay in business. So, as you consider how to best launch online communication and education, consider the following tips to organize your materials for the most effective ways to reach your audience.
1. Think in Terms of Themes – Remember that English term paper you wrote in college- you know, where you started with an outline to organize your thoughts? This same structure works for online communication. Work first from an outline and make sure your ideas are flowing in a way that will make sense to the recipient. Just because you might want to add in one more idea doesn’t always mean you should. In the virtual world, bulleted items that can be easily absorbed, coupled with an engaging audio narration, are key.
2. Be Brief – Resist the urge to include everything in one large communication. Particularly when writing online educational content, 15 minutes of content is at the top-end of learners’ attention spans. This goes back to your themes: use multiple online modules corresponding with the themes mentioned in Tip #1 to create bite-size, digestable content.
3. Design Engaging Narration and Visual Appeal – You may decide to just send a PowerPoint for your learners to click through. Yes, you can do that – and that’s exactly what will happen. People will click through it. But is that effective? To increase engagement, use timed narration – by someone who knows how to narrate (and these people exist – it’s a profession!) – which prevents learners from just clicking through online content to just get it done. Consider adding navigational locks to your content, which prevent the learner to progress through the course until they’ve listened to content on each slide. Yes, this does require some online course creation and manipulation. If you really want your online content to matter, then you need to be deliberate.
4. Think, When do Webinars Work Best? – Sometimes what you need is a chance to have a more active conversation when delivering your message. Online courses aren’t always the best route. So, how can you best implement a webinar? Just like online holiday shopping (think: Cyber Monday), the same rules apply to webinars: certain days and times work better when trying to attract the most participants. Our friends from GoTo Webinar have studied this one!
- Schedule in the middle of the week – more people attend webinars when scheduled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays with Thursdays being the most preferred.
- Plan it for 11am, with 2pm as an alternative – If you’re trying to attract people across multiple time zones, be sure you accommodate all time zones. Be cautious when scheduling an 11 am eastern webinar, if during that time, most of your learners are on the west coast just getting their day started. The only exception to this is people tend to not prefer a webinar over the lunch hour, unless it’s specifically planned as a “Lunch and Learn.”
- Pre-record your webinar – if you’re dealing in multiple time zones, you may want to consider pre-recording and then offering at multiple times. You can still host a live Q&A at the end or include polls to keep things engaging. Pre-recording also makes following up with those who can’t attend, much easier.
- Longer webinars are okay – Inconsistent with the advice about online curriculum, from studying webinar attendance, we know that 60-minute webinars attract 2.1 times more registrants than 30-minute webinars, so don’t be afraid to go the distance!
- Share the invitation for your webinar on Tuesdays – 24% of all webinar registrations occur on Tuesdays (at 9:00 am if you want the highest volume of responses).
There’s no need to overcomplicate online engagement with your team or stakeholders while you’re working from home. You can use online engagement to your advantage – but you just must know how to get started and what’s going to work best for your organization. Following our four simple tips will get you started to create a communication plan that is engaging, and effective. Need help thinking through how to best reach your virtual audience? Give Plaid a call, and we would be happy to assist you