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Posted on April 19, 2011

Outside In

It’s been an amazing first two weeks at Brilliant Ink! On Day 1, I was welcomed with open arms to the team and attended an engaging talk by a well-known CEO of a popular consumer brand, who was invited to speak to a client’s employees. Pretty cool first day, huh? As I looked around the standing-room only crowd, it got me thinking about outside experts. How can a speaker really inspire and relate to employees? What insights can someone from the outside show you about your employees?

Here are some thoughts if you’re looking for a way to provide a meaningful experience to the workday:

  • It’s more than just free snacks. A strong presenter can inspire the audience to look at their roles within the company differently or spark new conversations between co-workers. Speakers don’t need to be celebrities or Pulitzer-prize winning authors (although it doesn’t hurt); people want to work somewhere that invests in learning opportunities and provides varied, interesting discussions. Yes, employees may perk up when there’s coffee and bagels, but shouldn’t they leave feeling full of ideas and encouragement rather than just full?
  • A fresh perspective. An outside speaker, especially one who isn’t in your industry, can speak about highlights and challenges without an insider’s spin. They may even draw parallels that haven’t occurred to you before. An outside opinion is just that – outside. The distance may allow employees to see an issue differently than if, let’s say, the CEO has mentioned it before.
  • Brilliant employees want to hear the inside track. Brilliant employees are in the loop with industry trends, and they know their stuff. An outside speaker can help employees out by providing a bit of an inside scoop. You want employees to feel as if they got an inside peek, and if they didn’t during the presentation, then make sure there is time for Q & A. Some employees may really enjoy trying to stump the speaker!
  • Allow time for questions. At last week’s event there was a line at the microphone during the Q & A session! Employees wanted to dig deeper and see how the speaker would approach some challenges specific to our client’s focus. Collect questions before and after the talk. Ask employees to submit a survey with candid, anonymous feedback to see what’s on employee minds. What do they want to learn more about? This may give some employees an opportunity to ask the hard questions that they may not pose directly to a supervisor.

How did employees feel about last week’s presentation? Well, first off, they broke records on how many people read our post-event entry on the company Intranet. One employee put it simply, “More of this! Do it again!”How many of you have brought in outside speakers? How did it go? If you’d like to discuss your ideas before inviting a speaker in, give us a ring! And thank you for a brilliant first two weeks! Photo credit: www.istock.com

Alison Harrison