Are you frustrated with constantly trying to get people to read your internal comms? I hear you! Newsletters, new policies, quarterly reports: all met with the same:

‘I haven’t seen it.’

‘Could you send it over again?’

‘I don’t think I received that.’

Sound familiar? The excuses can go on and on, but what they are secretly saying is your content just isn’t engaging enough for them to care.

Here are five tips for creating content people will actually read.

#1 Ask yourself, what’s in this for me?

When writing your content, imagine yourself as the person who’s going to read it — we’ve all been there — and then ask yourself ‘what’s actually in this for me?’

If the content you write doesn’t have some kind of value, then you can’t expect people to want to read it. Consider whether your content serves to inform? To help? To motivate? If you can’t find a purpose then neither will your reader.

Keep your writing short and informative. For extra brownie points add figures or stats, instead of just corporate nonsense.

#2 Make it pretty!

You send out your content in the hope that people will take time out of their busy days to read what you have to say. It’s a big ask, and one that most people aren’t always willing to do. One of the biggest turn-offs for a reader is being confronted by a wall of text.

Make your content easier to read through the use of visual aids, such as pretty images or infographics. Breaking up the content makes it look like there’s less to read whilst making it generally more appealing. It may take a little longer, but your readers will love you for it!

#3 Don’t be too conservative and professional (stuffy and boring!)

Remember, you’re communicating with other human beings. Don’t just be stuffy and corporate for the sake it. According to a report by IABC, only 21% of internal communicators say they aim to keep their language simple and jargon-free. Lighten up!

Employees are more likely to read something conversational and upbeat. Imagine you’re speaking with a friend, and use that tone to influence your choice of wording.

For example, which of these extracts would you be more inclined to read fully:

‘Employee performance will increase dramatically when orchestrated by universally salient messaging.

VS.

‘If you keep your messages clear then your employees will be happier.’

Fundamentally, the content is about communicating with employees — not blindsiding them. Be honest with them about successes and mishaps, always ending on a positive note to take forward.

#4 Engaging with, not talking at

The people on the other end of your content are, well, just people. If you stay focused on this concept, then the ideas you produce will be much more engaging. For example, here at Oak we have Fast-Food-Friday whereby people use polls to vote on where they want to eat.

It’s a good idea to take advantage of interactive features, so why not try out polls or discussion forums in your content? Your readers can then voice their opinions, and it breaks down the one-way system of communication that often comes with internal content. The key is putting emphasis on the voice of the employee, always reminding them that their opinion is valued, and showing that you act on their feedback.

One tip for involving your team is to let them produce their own internal content. Millennials and Generation Z employees love this concept, particularly as they thrive in environments where they can share their ideas! Use your intranet to create specific areas and forums for people to collaborate.

#5 It’s all about that second date…

Imagine you’re on a first date with someone who seems friendly, conversational and sincere. You really like them and enjoy their company so decide to arrange a second date.

Now imagine your second date with them: they’re impolite, obnoxious and you have an awful time. How would you feel? Now try holding this situation up against your content. People like consistency.

Have a branded template to use, and a plan in place for when and where you will put out communications. Scheduling your postings means you can update employees of any upcoming content, so it’s not being thrown on them out of the blue.

Your tone of voice should run clearly throughout all content. You’re communicating to your team so use language that will build a relationship between you and them.

Finally, it’s a good idea to keep your content web-based instead of downloadable files, as this is a more user friendly format. You can also improve the level of engagement because they’re easier to read and prettier!

In conclusion…

If you only focus on what you want to say, rather than who is going to read it, you’re always going to struggle with engagement. Make sure you focus on the reader.

Don’t be afraid of being reactive and trying new things until you find a format that works for you and your team. Making engaging content is more than just keeping your employees in the loop, it’s about encouraging a culture of communication in your business, and making people feel valued.

Now it’s your turn to let us know what you think!

Tell us on Twitter or LinkedIn what are your top tips for improving internal communications?