Category Archives: Best Practices

New year, new skills: Methods to improve learning at your company

It'd be great if running a business was like riding a bike. You learn how to ride a bike once, and you acquire all the skills you need to know to ride a bike for the rest of your life. 

Unfortunately, running a company isn't quite like riding a bike. Learning new skills and honing old ones – or continuous learning, as it's called – is essential for a productive workforce and a competitive business. 

Amp up the education in your workplace in 2018 with the methods and strategies below:

Hold trainings and educational workshops often 

There are always things that you and your employees should be trained in, whether it's a new coding language, a new content management system or a new workflow. Holding workshops and other training events to teach these skills is far more effective than sharing how-to steps via email. Include free breakfast and coffee or free lunch at these events to make participation more enticing. 

Create a culture of learning

For continuous learning to truly flourish at your organization, you need to create a work culture that openly embraces the sharing of ideas and the development of new skills. You could incorporate learning and development into your company's mission statement or set of core values. Ensure that executive leadership, hiring managers and HR are all onboard with communicating with employees in ways that promote learning, not hinder it. 

Poll employees 

You're far more likely to have greater attendance at training events and workshops if you target these events toward subjects employees actually want to learn about. Polls and surveys can help you identify hot topics and skills that workers most want to learn about and develop. 

Use webinars for training 

To make sure your remote workforce doesn't miss out on the benefits of in-office learning events, conduct training via webinars. With their ease of incorporating multimedia materials, webinars make learning dynamic and fun. As an added bonus, they can be saved and archived in your company's learning library for future reference. 

Tweak your benefits

Demonstrate that your company truly values continuous learning by adjusting your benefits. Perhaps your company can offer to reimburse employees for tuition if they choose to go back to school, or can spend more funds to send them to industry conferences and events. You could also consider giving employees a personal day to work on their hobbies or interests. 

Continuous learning is the seed of innovation. Discovering different ways of doing things and honing new skills leads to success and productivity, and with the tips above, you can improve learning at your company. 

3 reasons why we’re thankful for webinars

 

This December, ReadyTalk is taking time to reflect on what we’re thankful for, and it’s more than just good times and high fives. We’re passionate about the exciting benefits webinars can bring to businesses. With the right strategy, these online events can transform your company.

Here are three reasons why we’re thankful for webinars:

1. They engage audiences

Your clients are bombarded with a dizzying array of content on a daily basis. If you want to grab and keep their attention, then you need to provide high-value information in an engaging and entertaining package. Webinars enable your company to do just that. Rather than simply being yet another video clients need to watch, webinars are targeted events that allow for audience interaction via polling and other features. Clients can learn must-know information useful to their lives and businesses via a creative, fun and informative way. A quality webinar can get people’s attention in a media-saturated world; the average viewership per webcast is 53 minutes, according to ON24, giving you lots of time to present valuable information to your audience.

2. They generate more qualified leads

Webinars don’t only appeal to your current clients, but they also help you reach future ones more effectively than many other channels. Between 20 percent and 40 percent of webinar registrants turn into qualified leads, according to a survey we conducted with our clients.

This is because webinars by their nature filter out prospects who are more likely to be a dead-end. People who sign up for webinars are more willing to provide accurate data about themselves, such as their email addresses, because they want access to the event. Webinars are also an example of permission-based marketing, meaning that prospects themselves indicate that they want to learn more about your company by signing up, which is a strong sign that a lead can be nurtured through the sales cycle. For these reasons, webinars can give you a greater return on your investment when it comes to lead generation.

3. They establish your company as a trusted resource

Webinars offer a chance for your organization to share its expertise and know-how. When individuals tune into your webinar and receive information useful to their own lives or jobs, they’ll discover that your company is a helpful resource they’ll want to check in with again and again. High-quality webinars establish your company as a thought leader, and with the rich variety of ways webinars can be used, from product demos to Q+A sessions to industry updates, these events strengthen your brand identity while building connections with your target audiences.

Increased engagement levels, higher-quality leads and thought leadership are three reasons why we’re thankful for webinars. If your company is interested in experiencing the exciting benefits of webinars for itself, check out the helpful products and tools offered by ReadyTalk – we have everything you need to get started!

Video conferencing etiquette 101

Looking for the key that unlocks productivity and innovation at companies? Video conferencing is your answer, letting employees scattered across the globe to collaborate via face-to-face interaction. However, just like phone decorum calls for a "hello" and "goodbye," video conferencing requires its own set of manners.

To ensure you make a good impression on your boss and co-workers, here are some video conferencing etiquette guidelines:

Look presentable 

Just because you can call into a video meeting in your bedroom doesn't mean you can get away with wearing your pajamas. Treat the call like any other business meeting and wear what you would sport to the office (and maybe move from a stack of pillows to your desk). And please, wear pants, too. Even though screens will show only your upper half, you never know if the camera could fall or you'll need to get up for some reason, as Entrepreneur magazine pointed out. It pays to be prepared. 

Have a tidy background

Be conscious of your background before joining a video conference. Make sure the space behind you is clean and free of clutter; otherwise the meeting participants will be focused on the dirty dishes littering the table behind you more than your talking points. Use an even, face-level camera angle, too, as anything else is distracting. 

Set up good lighting 

You don't need to become a lighting expert before you dial in to a video meeting, but you should make sure the room will be bright enough for all callers to see your face clearly and without shadows. 

Keep your microphone muted 

You never know what's going to be amplified by your computer or headset microphone – your finger tapping, a fan running in the background, a dog barking, a car speeding down the street, etc. It's polite to keep your microphone on mute when you're not talking. 

Make eye contact 

It's human nature to have your eyes fixed on your beautiful face in the box at the bottom of the screen instead of on your webcam. However, looking directly into the camera is important because it helps you connect with your audience. 

Fight the urge to type

You may want to type notes during your video conference, but resist the temptation, the Wall Street Journal advised. Not only could it create noise if your microphone isn't on mute, but also other people may assume that you are working on something unrelated to the meeting. 

With these tips, you can have pitch-perfect video conferencing manners. 

How to come up with a stellar webinar topic

You've heard hosting webinars is good for your business, but how do you come up with a topic that will engage audiences and help generate leads? Just follow our four tips below:

1. Target a specific audience 

Instead of picking a broad and generic topic that attempts to appeal to the largest group of people possible, design your webinar to appeal to a specific audience. This way, you can develop curated content for your webinar that responds to viewers' needs. As Frost & Sullivan notes in its "Best Practices for Making Your Webinar a Success" guide, identify the specific group of people that make the most sense for your webinar to target, and then create a topic and content that will resonate with them. 

2. Zero in on what people want

In our content-saturated world, you need to compete for people's attention by providing useful information that addresses a pain point. When brainstorming a topic, consider the specific issues and problems that your target audience faces. A topic that provides tips, tricks and techniques on how to solve these challenges can not only help boost attendance to the event but also inspire viewers to continue to interact with your company long after the webinar is over. 

3. Share something unique 

You want your webinar to solve people's problems, but you don't want to simply regurgitate information they've already heard on LinkedIn Pulse or Forbes. Develop a unique value proposition, and then use this focus as the basis of your topic. See what one-of-a-kind perspectives, expertise and insights your company and its talent possess, as people are always searching for new solutions to persistently difficult issues. 

4. Avoid blatant sales talk 

People will be turned off from attending your webinar if it sounds like it will be one long sales pitch. Though the ultimate goal of hosting the event may be to generate leads for your company, you want to provide real value for viewers, giving them new insights or enabling them to overcome challenges. By providing this targeted information, you simultaneously promote your company as a thought leader and business ally. Your topic should not be "Why you should buy our product" but instead how the technology or service can make people's lives easier. 

With these tips, you can develop a top-notch webinar topic that can help boost lead generation and engagement with your company. 

4 tips for planning holiday office parties

The company holiday party isn't just a chance to decorate the office and eat one too many cookies; it's an important opportunity to recognize employees for the hard work they've done all year.

As you head into the fourth quarter, it's a smart idea to start planning your office's holiday party. The earlier you begin hammering out the details, the better, as a little prep work nows saves headaches later and helps ensure the festivities are a hit. 

Here are four tips for planning your holiday office party:

1. Pick a fun theme 

Giving the holiday party a creative theme keeps the atmosphere from being too stuffy and, as online invitations company Punchbowl noted, provides a focus for the event that can simplify planning. An ugly sweater party is a classic theme, but there are lots of other fun ideas you could try, such as:

  • North Pole: Transform the space into a winter wonderland complete with Santa's workshop. 
  • Holidays in Paradise: Decorate with a tropical island theme. 
  • Roaring 20s: Have a classy, old-fashioned holiday celebration with 1920s-inspired decor and music. 

2. Choose a convenient time

Schedule the holiday party for a convenient time to boost attendance rates; the Friday right before many employees head off for holiday travel may not be the best day for the party. 

Some companies hold their holiday parties in the evening, after a workday or on the weekend. However, the event doesn't have to be after hours; luncheons are a popular alternative, according to HR consulting firm ERC. They can be held during the workweek, making them likely more convenient for a greater number of employees, and these gatherings can be less expensive than evening parties, offering a great option for smaller budgets. 

3. Consider your booze policy 

Give some thought to whether you'll serve alcohol at your party. If you do, it's important to follow safe practices. The Balance has a helpful list of tips for serving alcohol at company events; it includes serving solely beer and wine instead of liquor and limiting the number of hours the bar is open. Only professional bartenders should serve alcohol, too, never employees. 

4. Include remote workers 

Remote workers shouldn't be left out of the festivities! With the simple-to-use video conferencing solutions available today, companies can get creative with including their remote staff in the party. As The Atlantic explained in an article on the increasing popularity of remote-work holiday parties, telecommuting staff can call into in-office parties via video conference. 

With these tips, you can throw a fun and successful holiday party at your company this year.