Ever wish you were a fly on the wall, listening in while top HR and internal communications pros share their best practices?

That’s exactly what happens when you attend an event like the Advanced Learning Institute’s recent conference in San Francisco, “Aligning HR & Internal Communications to Boost the Employee Experience.” About 50 HR and internal business communicators from around the country came together to discuss new tools and approaches to some of today’s toughest communications challenges.

Here are our four favorite tips to come out of this meeting:

  1. Stay on the prowl for cool new apps designed to improve employee engagement. A few of the many apps mentioned at the conference include:
  1. Give your C-Suite leaders opportunities to reveal more of themselves in fun, unscripted ways. Shoot “90 Seconds with Your Leader’s Name” videos. Ask your leader fun questions at the beginning and end and squeeze a little strategy talk in the middle. Questions could range from “What superpower would you want?” to “What was your favorite subject in school?” Or even: “Toilet paper: over or under?” Or create a fun video with leaders answering “Mean Tweets” à la Jimmy Kimmel.
  1. Limit employee communications to about 300 words and use the “short burst” approach. Research shows that consumer and employee habits are merging. For internal communicators, this means we have about three seconds to attract employees with a headline, and five seconds to create connection and buy-in to the message. Spread key messages across multiple channels in snackable format, or short bursts, to get critical information into their hands.
  2. Experiment with novelty. Now that the whole world’s shifted to online communications, rumor has it that good ol’ fashioned print materials (gasp!) are making a comeback. Try mailing out a promotion that’s much bigger or smaller than expected or with an unusual shape like a star, heart or some shape that’s relevant to your business. Think posters (or digital signage if your company refuses to print) in the office but with some “wow” factor, using humor, bright colors, attention-getting images and wordplay. Bottom line: Your people will sit up and take notice if you offer them something completely different that blows their minds.

Suki Baz and Julie Knight are board members of the San Francisco Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Suki is internal communications manager, National Park Service. Julie Knight is owner of the communications consultancy, Mission: Possible.