Back in 2020, when the BBR Creative team was forced to work from home due to the pandemic, we recognized a need for more intentional and effective leadership communication. After thinking on it, upper management came to me with the recommendation that I should carve out time each week to speak to the entire agency via video call. To be honest, I was slightly intimidated by the idea of coming up with content each week. But eventually our Vice President of Operations said, “Why don’t you just focus on life lessons that pertain to your years of experience in this business? You have a lot to share.” So I decided to give it a shot.
Since then, I’ve hosted a communal video call known as “Morning Tea with Cherie” every Wednesday morning from 8:30 to 8:45am offering weekly episodes that focus on life lessons I’ve learned through business. As I am approaching my 100th episode, I’ve recognized the value that this intentional leadership communication has brought to my team — it’s truly been a solid forum to build company culture and stay connected with the broader group.
This internal communication is such an important part of building a business culture. If you are leading people, some of whom are remote, this has proven time and time again to be an effective method of staying in front of your team. With interns and new staff coming on board, team dynamics are always changing, and this practice gives staff a glimpse of what is important to you and your business at any given time.
If you decide to incorporate a similar weekly speaking engagement in your business, I would like to offer these five guidelines that I follow to make each meeting feasible and effective:
- Preplan with minimal effort: Speaking to a group weekly is much easier if you have a system that is easy to follow. I keep a planning spreadsheet with dates on it for each week, and when I randomly think of a topic that would be of interest to the team, I jot it down. Ideas come to me at different times, so it’s important that I have a central place to capture them when they arrive. Each section has room for bullet points of the main messages I want to cover. I can even move items around depending on what’s relevant at the time. When the day comes, I simply refer to my notes, and cross the message off when I am done.
- Share lessons you’ve learned: Tell stories that only you can tell. Think of instances that you faced in business and in life, and relate how you made it through. Be vulnerable and transparent. Do it in storytelling fashion with you as the main character who faced a challenge, was helped by a guide, went through obstacles and either succeeded or failed — and in the end was transformed in a profound way.
- Educate your team on the business: Use this time to focus on individual aspects of your business and give your vantage point as the leader. For example, describe your brand promise, select a core value and talk about what it means to you. Discuss a new service line, break down how the business makes money in the simplest of terms, or explain a policy and why it’s important. Try to stay focused on ONE topic for each talk. Don’t read a script. Talk from the heart. After all, you know this stuff because it’s your story.
- Invite a Guest Host to share their knowledge: I have also asked other members of the leadership team to stand in for me when I am out of town or if they have something of value to share with the agency. Sometimes it is work related, like announcing the details of a new initiative. Other times, they may share their expertise on a subject with the group. Recently, our Account Service Director Bria Wheeler spoke about the concept of mindfulness and how to use it to reduce stress. Overall, it’s a great way to give others the opportunity to speak before the entire team and grow their leadership skills.
- Solicit audience participation: Sometimes, I just don’t have a particular topic in mind for the session. On these occasions, I open it up to the group with question and answer sessions like “Ask the Boss” or a series called “Pitch Yourself” where each employee gives a short elevator description of themselves to the group. These moments allow people to connect and feel more unified with their colleagues.
Should you decide to embark on weekly speaking to your group, I hope these guidelines proved helpful!