on April 16, 2019 Change Communications

The Questions You Should Answer in Your Internal Communications

Subscribe to Email Updates

Internal updates can be an effective channel of communication for businesses. They’re perfect for announcing a new team member, sharing end of quarter company metrics, or for any other number of common workplace scenarios to trickle down information from leadership to employees. The key to making internal updates helpful for employees is to craft them thoughtfully and with intention.

We can’t tell you how often we’ve seen internal announcements pop up in inboxes that leave recipients scratching their heads – poorly written, vague announcements that conjure up more questions than answers.

Here’s our advice to ensure your internal communications are read, understood, and make an impact.

Think about your intended audience

Before you begin drafting a communication, tap into the mindset of your audience that will be reading it. What does this person or group already know? What is important to explain in detail; what’s something new you’re explaining that your audience may not already know? Going through this exercise before you draft your internal communication will arm you with the right mentality, so you can frame it appropriately for your audience. Most importantly, put yourself in the reader’s shoes: if you received this update, what would you want and expect to know?

An inch of preparation avoids miles of confusion

Spend ample time in the preparation phase of drafting the communication; anticipating subsequent questions readers may have will save you lots of time in the long run. Not thinking ahead about questions employees may have and sending out an internal update full of holes will certainly cause confusion and will likely spur plenty of emailed responses with follow-up questions.  

Here’s an example of a poorly written announcement:

Colleagues,
 
The Head of Marketing position has recently been filled. Jane Doe will step into this role shortly. We look forward to all that Jane will accomplish.
 
Best,
Marketing Team

The above announcement is nondescript at best – it comes across as irreverent and is so light on detail that it leaves the reader pondering questions such as:

  •      When is Jane Doe is beginning her new role?
  •      Is Jane a current employee or a new hire? (applicable up for large organizations)
  •      What specifically makes Jane a great fit as Head of Marketing?
  •      What is her background, applicable skills, or interests related to the role?
  •      Who will Jane report to, and who will report to Jane? Will I report to Jane?
  •      Who can I reach out to with questions about this?


Answer the five W’s and H

At the bare minimum, your internal updates should address the five “W’s”: who, what, where, when and why. However, look beyond those must-haves and consider adding additional color to the content; specifically how will these changes or updates be put into place?

Here’s an updated example of the same type of announcement that does a better job addressing specific information the reader wants and deserves to know:

Colleagues,
 
I’m excited to announce that effective May 1, 2019, Jane Doe will begin her new role as Head of Marketing at the San Diego office. She comes on board with over ten years of experience in a variety of Marketing roles, most recently as Director of Marketing for ABC.
 
Jane has an affinity for gaining a true understanding of each customer and delivering exceptional marketing strategies that are a perfect fit for each client’s needs. Jane is looking forward to managing our Marketing team and working together to spearhead exceptional marketing strategies and deliverables.   
 
Starting May 1, Marketing Directors John Anderson and Kate Green will report directly to Jane and Jane will report to me.
 
There will be an onsite welcome lunch for Jane on May 2, and all San Diego colleagues are encouraged to attend!
 
If you have any questions, please reach out to me.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ken House
Chief Creative Officer

 

Here’s a short list of takeaways for internal communications:

  • Keep it concise – get to the point right away or you will lose the reader’s attention

  • Be specific – include effective dates for changes taking place as well as need-to-know logistical info

  • Stay organized – include headers if the email has more than one topic

  • Include a helpful infographic or a Powerpoint if the change being unveiled is complex or requires an updated organizational chart
  • Point the reader to a contact should they have any questions or concerns

When in doubt, reach out to us! We can craft strategies and communications to help your business evolve.

get-in-touch-cta

Traci McMillan Beach

Traci is an expert at devising strategies that directly impact a client’s bottom line through engaging communications tailored to an audience. A former Bloomberg News reporter, Traci continues to regularly contribute to business publications, with a focus on C-level advice, entrepreneurship and technology.