The top takeaways from Ragan’s Internal Communications Conference

Here’s what we learned from the gathering at Microsoft HQ.

Another great Ragan conference is officially in the books, and the vibrant crowd hailing from all across the globe left with many profound. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Ragan’s 2023 Internal Communications Conference.

  1. When considering what emerging AI tools and innovations make sense for your teams, Steve Clayton, vice president of communications strategy at Microsoft told us culture is key. People will always have fears around emerging tech, as was the case with the internet and the printing press before it. A communicator can address those fears and concerns, and then minimize them through education and modeling appropriate use cases.
  2. Brian Brockman, vice president of communications for the U.S. and Canada at Nissan, explained how crises accelerate transformation. Each crisis creates an opportunity to translate change as conditions emphasize new ways of communicating.
  3. Rob Wolf, senior director of external executive brand, social and thought leadership at T-Mobile, reminded attendees that most people miss most things in the first round of executive communications. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself and harness the power of messaging consistency.
  4. Janine Narvali, head of business development at Appspace, shared that internal communicators should seek to leverage their internal change agents in order to create a healthier hybrid workplace.
  5. O. Shelley Kemp, HR business partner, business operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, said that anyone can throw a ball. It’s a low-level skill. Mindful comms, however, is a high-level skill. It starts off low but takes thousands of hours to put the ball where you want it to go.
  6. Julie Miller, global internal communications manager at Simpplr, emphasized that the best leaders don’t just listen, but also listen intently and in the moment.
  7. Tia Over, executive vice president, and chief operations officer at Spring Green, told us that managers should work to have more effective conversations with their teams. The most effective leaders who listen in the moment have done the work to recognize who their audience is, but they aren’t anticipating what they’ll hear. Don’t overprepare.
  8. Mike Schindler, author and executive producer of “It’s VUCA: The Secret to Living in the 21st Century,” hearkened back to his time in the Navy and told us to celebrate the micro-moments.
  9. Gemma Saint, Director of customer success & growth, North America at SWOOP Analytics, stressed that data doesn’t tell a story — it also has the potential to reveal fun insights. She told us not to be afraid to dig around in the figures.
  10. Jen Crum, director of marketing and communications for HR Programs at Microsoft and Amy Morris, senior manager of employee communications and employer brand at Microsoft, said that employer branding experts should think through how the benefits employees seek out impact the work we do every day.
  11. Katherine Cheng, vice president of people, culture and DEI for the Seattle Mariners told us that social is rooted in really hearing from people. She also told us that, while communicating information is important, but it’s also crucial to practice receiving it and know how to act on it properly. She added that we should look through the lens of DEI to communicate our messages.
  12. Halley Knigge, director of communications at REI, stressed the importance of taking a human-first approach to communications. If you follow the impact of people, you’re going to find the sweet spot for good comms. Make sure you walk the walk before you talk the talk.
  13. Julienne Hadley, director of strategic communications at Yale University shared that the value employers offer needs to match the values employees are looking for, and as those values change over time, communicators need to be able to respond in kind.

If you weren’t in attendance, stay posted for our upcoming conference offerings.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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