How to teach internal communication

Have you ever been asked to teach others about internal communication? If so, this guest blog by Lou Robinson will help you.

Every month I have the privilege of welcoming professional communicators to my All Things IC Masterclasses and teaching them about internal communication.

This week I held my latest IC Masterclass in London (pictured) and three days later, I’m still finding myself mulling over the conversations and ideas shared by practitioners in the room.

From diving into comms theory, to boosting skills and confidence through hearing and sharing the latest thinking, feedback shows investing in my Masterclasses helps practitioners long after our day together is over.

Feedback from this week…

“The All Things IC Comms Masterclass (on 27 June) was spot on for re-invigorating my passion for internal communications and providing a toolkit of great ideas and approaches to implement back in the office. The best part was spending time with like-minded comms professionals sharing ideas and experiences. I thoroughly recommend to anyone working in comms new or old to sign up to one of Rachel’s classes – plus she provides fab goodie bags!!” – Becky Wren, Marketing Manager, Screwfix.

I can’t tell you how proud that makes me. I regularly get updates from attendees who keep me posted with how they are translating the ideas we came up with into action.

“Rachel’s IC knowledge is immense, and she’s incredibly generous with it. The Masterclass was well structured and interesting, with a good mix of theory and practical skills. I left full of ideas, with a reading and action list I’m looking forward to getting stuck into. Thanks Rachel!” – Lindsay Narey, Communications Executive, Metropolitan.

It’s important to take time out to invest in and develop ourselves professionally, I’ve certainly been doing the same recently. Thank you Becky, Lindsay and Alison for your feedback from this week’s Masterclass:

I came away completely buzzing with inspiration and ideas and happy that I’d had the space to take a step back and think creatively about what we’re doing and why. Having time to think and reflect always feels like a bit of a luxury but it’s so important. Thank you Rachel for a brilliant day.  – Alison Robinson, Internal Communications Officer, Birketts LLP

Save your place

See the Masterclasses section of my website to discover what’s on and to save your place. Work for a nonprofit organisation? You can save 20% using the discount code you’ll find in there.

If you’re a CIPR or IoIC member you can not only benefit from a 20% discount, but earn CPD points while you learn as my Masterclasses are worth 10 points or six hours respectively. Bonus!

I’ve introduced a brand new Change Communication Masterclass, which is now available to book. Thank you to this week’s Masterclass attendees who reinforced my research that this is the right topic to offer. I’m holding it on 27 September 2017 and places are already going quickly.

Helen Deverell is running another of her fantastic Writing Skills Masterclasses on 18 October for All Things IC.

I’m also offering 1-2-1 consultancy and coaching opportunities. Hire me for a day and we can spend the whole time concentrating on you and coming up with solutions to your problems.

I’d love you to join me in London to spend the day investing in your development.  Do check out the schedule and see what’s coming up.


Let’s get back to helping you teach. Have you ever been asked to teach internal communication?

We regularly educate stakeholders, employees and peers about comms, but what is it like to teach the topic?

Over the past few years I’ve been a guest speaker at Kingston University’s Masters and Diploma in Internal Communication Management courses and it’s something I thoroughly enjoy.

Only last week I ran a bespoke Masterclass as part of a client’s internal communication away day, to coach them through an aspect of their work.

I’m incredibly curious about the world of communication and love creating shared understanding and meaning among people in the room.

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Lou Robinson back to my blog to reveal her thoughts on this topic. She runs her own IC consultancy and specialises in looking after global teams and their leaders. I’ll hand you over…

How to teach internal communication – by Lou Robinson

In my last blog post for Rachel I mentioned that I’d been asked to give a lecture to the Corporate Communication masters students at Bournemouth University on their CIPR IC Diploma module.

I was extremely chuffed to be asked to talk about IC channels and implementation.

Where to start

Having agreed to it, I realised that I didn’t actually know where to start with my preparation!

My first step was to speak to last year’s guest lecturer, who turned out to be Liam Fitzpatrick (I know him well as he was a teacher on my own CIPR Diploma in 2002).

Liam gave me some great advice:

  • If you’re nervous – throw in an icebreaker
  • Don’t try to cover too much
  • Split the session down into 15 minute chunks
  • Don’t talk at them for the whole time.

At this point I also set myself an additional side-bar challenge, which was to produce a set of presentation slides that were a) not terrible and b) didn’t contain a single bullet point.

I struggle with slides at the best of times. I’m one of those people that knows what good looks like but not being a designer, finds it difficult to create a great presentation.

Having seen Alan Oram from Alive with Ideas present a couple of times I really like his presentation style, which is primarily just pictures and headlines based. Alan – if you’re reading, I’ve shamelessly stolen your approach!

Rachel recommended that Canva is great for producing professional slides, so as soon as my vacation started in early June, I got cracking.

(I LOVE Canva, I have the paid-for business version, but thoroughly recommend the free version if you’re new to the site – Rachel).

It turns out 90 minutes isn’t that much to cover off the world of channels, so I split my sections down as follows:

  1. Intro and icebreaker
  2. Theory
  3. Individual exercise
  4. Implementation
  5. Team exercise
  6. Further learning / Q&A

I got hold of the main course textbook and re-read the theory from cover to cover. I remember pretty much all of it from my own diploma (history of IC and channels / one-way versus two-way etc) because I apply it all the time and also use it to advise my clients on best-practise.

It’s therefore both fresh in my mind and hasn’t actually changed over the years.

What has changed is the pace of channels implementation, the rise of digital and the transition of audience types from boomers, through gen-X and into millennials.

After getting my content together, I did a final check to make sure it fitted with the run of the overall course and didn’t overlap with the other guest presenters. My main worry was about timing – would I be able to stick to time or totally dry up?

On the day

I arrived on Friday lunchtime for the final slot of the week and we decided I’d get cracking a little early, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Once I started I immediately lost track of time and was immersed in the subject matter.

I opened with a photograph of me on the beach in Bournemouth (below) which went down well, then into an ice-breaker and straight into the theory.


I tried to read what the students were interested in and this turned out to be everything to do with implementation. I’d only given myself 15 minutes for this section but I probably spent 45 minutes on it in reality (a learning for next time). It was just as well we started early and I had extra time.

Within implementation I talked about SWOTs and channels audits, the latest digital thinking, the importance of measurement, and finally a chunk of time on my own experience in six multinational companies over the last 15 years.

Further reading: How to conduct an internal communication audit.

I got lots of questions about my work and some of the situations I’ve found myself in and we also talked about how channels can work (or not) in a situation of change.

All too soon it was 3pm and I had to finish. Two hours had whizzed by, my throat was dry and scratchy and I asked if I could have a souvenir photo of the session (below).

There was some initial feedback from the audience that I’d done really well, which left me warm and fuzzy for the weekend.

My learnings a week on from my experience:

  • Preparation is key to public speaking
  • Presentations don’t need bullets to be effective
  • Implementation is way more interesting than theory.

As well as really enjoying this experience, I earned 10 points for giving the guest lecture and completed my 2017 CIPR CPD round, gaining my Accredited PR Practitioner status.

Post author: Lou Robinson.

Thank you Lou.

I’d love to know if you teach internal communication and if you think Lou’s approach is helpful. You’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.


First published on the All Things IC blog 30 June 2017.


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