My top three takeaways from The Big Yak

Published: 17 June 2019

I went along to one of the best Internal Comms events of the year, The Big Yak, on Saturday. I absolutely loved every single minute and I could have spent many hours talking non-stop about comms and everything in-between. I LOVE these types of events as they are just so relaxed and informal – the best thing about it being an unconference.

The Big Yak

This year I helped the wonderful IC Crowd team with their ticket management. To watch the tickets fly off the shelf within minutes was something I’ll never forget. It just goes to show how many fabulous people there are in the world of comms, who would give up their Saturday, to talk about the ‘work’ they do Monday to Friday.

I’m still on a ridiculous high from the event and I’m so grateful that these three wonderful people take time out of their extremely busy schedules to host something so spectacular!

Jenni, Rachel and Dana – The IC Crowd

I always learn something new at this event and this year was no exception. Here are my top three lessons and ‘take-aways’ I gained from the day:

Update your CV

If you’re looking to progress in your career into a sector you’re not familiar, then seek out the senior comms person from that field and ask if they will check over your CV to see where the gaps are.

I couldn’t agree more with this piece of advice. I think often we can fall into a trap of not really understanding the skills gaps properly and getting some advice from someone who has been there or is currently where you want to be is gold dust. I also like to read Job Descriptions for roles I’d like to do in the future so I can see what I’m missing in my skill set.

It’s also always a great idea to update your CV every three months or so, whether you’re looking for a new job or not, as it’s easier to keep track of your successes.

Gain some coaching skills

This was a contribution I made in one of the sessions where we were discussing building relationships with the Exec team. The best piece of advice I ever received was to gain core skills in coaching as it’ll help when you’re having conversations at senior levels.

I was lucky to work on a coaching and mentoring scheme early on in my career so was able to get some training. It’s probably the best training I’ve ever made the most use of throughout my career. Coaching teaches you how to listen more actively, how to ask the right questions and also how to gather the right information – some of the top skills you need to be a trusted adviser.

It’s not about becoming a full-blown coach at all but the behaviours and skills you learn in these coaching sessions will pay dividends in the future.

Measure your impact

Measurement! This is still a grey area for a lot of Internal Communication professionals and it was probably one of the most popular sessions on the day so the interest is certainly there.

I’m a bit of a data geek so I love looking at various stats and to see where we can make the correlation with Internal Communications and the behaviours we are helping to influence across the business.

In my last role we used a performance dashboard that showed leaders what impact we were having on certain key objectives across the business and it allowed us to add value to the conversations taking place. We’re in a unique position in IC as we get an overview of most of the departments in the organisation. Sometimes you have to look in the most obscure places to get hold of your data but you’ll be surprised what’s out there when you start digging round.

One key question I always asked before a campaign starts is ‘what behaviours are you expecting to see change in order for you to know its success?’ You’d often find that teams keep track of their own data which you could piggy back on for your dashboard. I contributed to a blog that the lovely Helen Deverall wrote a few weeks ago which talks more about measurement.

I hope you found that useful – if you went along to the Big Yak what were your top three takeaways?. If there is anything you want to talk about further or if you just want to connect then you can find me over on LinkedIn or over on Twitter.

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