What training 400 internal comms pros has taught me

This month marks two years since I ran my first All Things IC Masterclass. Over the past 24 months I’ve had the privilege of training 200 professional communicators on all things internal comms related.

I’ve also trained a further 200 comms pros in bespoke Masterclasses and 1-2-1 VIP mentoring sessions. Being surrounded by IC pros is endlessly fascinating, I’ve learnt so much and thought I’d share some observations.

Thank you to everyone who has invited me to work with you 1-2-1 or with your team. I’ve run bespoke sessions for teams at Coca-Cola, BBC, The Guardian, British Red Cross, NHS, AVEVA, O2, National Trust, Royal Mail, ACCA, ARM and many more.

Between now and the end of 2018 I’m running nine bespoke courses for comms teams and there are a handful of places left on my 2018 monthly Masterclasses. It’s an honour to be invited to work together and facilitate discussions to help you to succeed. Topics I cover include internal communication, change comms, leadership comms and personal branding.

I’ve worked on such exciting projects and helped teams solve various problems over the years. But as an ethical Chartered Practitioner and with strict adherence to the non-disclosure agreements I sign, those conversations and work won’t appear here.

Here are my observations:

  1. We are impacted by change, but don’t always show it.
  2. Communicators are open to learning.
  3. It’s hard to keep up.
  4. Everyone is under pressure.
  5. Communicators are incredible.

I’ve shared more information on each of these points below. Here’s some of my monthly Masterclasses in action:

Five observations from training 400 communicators

1. We are impacted by change, but don’t always show it.

Internal communicators are often seen as the faces of change. We guide organisations through, point out the way, facilitate discussions and answer questions.

But we don’t always feel able to show how change impacts us personally and as a team because we’re in visible roles.

It is ok to be human! It is ok to say budget cuts and restructures impact you too. It’s not a sign of weakness, it shows you’re not immune to the reality of change and the emotional and mental toil it can have.

My observation: Hearing comms pros admitting they are impacted by change has enabled them to be honest with themselves about their feelings. We’ve then been able to regroup and approach the task at hand with renewed vigour. We’ve applied those empathetic feelings into their work to benefit not only themselves but employees too.

2. Communicators are open to learning.

We need to be subject matter experts in so many areas – from leadership comms to apps and communicating change. Comms pros are willing and able to expand their knowledge to benefit themselves and their organisations.

It’s hard to admit we don’t know everything we need to, which is why asking for help is smart. But here’s the thing…

You can’t possibly know everything about everything.

My observation: Asking for help unlocks fresh ideas and possibilities when you talk through what you’re struggling with. I’ve loved watching those moments happening during my training courses. I’ve introduced Mastermind sessions to my Comms Consultant Masterclasses in October and November 2018 to enable that dedicated focus on individuals to happen.

3. It’s hard to keep up.

Communicators tell me it is hard to keep up. I hear you! The pace of change in the IC world has been gathering momentum for a number of years. Trying to read all the right papers, publications and books, plus know what’s on in terms of conferences and awards often takes a back seat while you’re trying to do your job. If you have zero budget to spend, it goes further down your list of priorities.

I introduced my newsletter – The Water Cooler – this year to deliver a monthly injection of comms knowledge to keep you updated. Plus there are 1200+ free articles on my blog where you can help yourself and get answers to your problems. There’s also an Events calendar so you can see what’s on.

My observation: When people are made redundant, going for job interviews or returning to work after a break, they panic. They feel like every other IC pro knows what’s going on in the industry. They don’t. We’re all learning and continuing to learn.

I regularly have communicators contacting me before coming to a Masterclass to say they’re worried everyone else in the room will have everything together and they fear feeling embarrassed and left behind. I always reassure them reality will not match that fear. Those comms pros leave my sessions feeling relieved – and with a whole room of peers to help them in future.

4. Everyone is under pressure

The constant need to be ‘always-on’ has resulted in some incredibly stressed communicators. One of the main reasons for introducing All Things IC Masterclasses was to enable communicators to breathe out, to come and get help in a confidential environment and take the weight off their shoulders.

This work taps into my personal values. My training courses and 1-2-1 sessions are the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done and I’m fiercely protective of their confidential nature.

I’ve shed a tear with some very stressed out comms pros and helped them get back on track.

Some of the comments I’ve heard in my sessions have shocked me and made me determined to help as much as I can. That’s why I introduced VIP sessions and 1-2-1 mentoring sessions at the end of 2017, to enable communicators to come and get senior-level counsel and support.

How? We can work together as a one-off strategy day or longer-term with accountability phone consultations and mentoring agreements. The purpose of All Things IC is to help internal communicators to succeed. I’m on your side to help tackle challenges and encourage you to offload concerns. This leaves you primed and ready to go back into your organisation to do your job.

Some comms pros have called me in their lunch breaks, having paid for a one-hour consultation call out of their own pockets because they’re under immense pressure and need support.

This is the reality for many practitioners of working as an internal communicator, particularly at a senior level.

Observation: I wish the opportunities I offer had existed for me, particularly when I was a Head of Communications in-house. Being able to book a call with a Consultant would have been SO useful! Knowing I could call someone and have an honest and impartial conversation to help me to succeed would have been invaluable.

I was in such a visible role, but felt overwhelmed as I didn’t have any support or senior-level counsel to rely on.

It’s ok to ask for help. Only today I held two of my free 15-minute calls. Both practitioners wanted to sense check something with me and within 15 minutes they were sorted.

5. Communicators are incredible

I have the privilege of being part of some amazing conversations. I’ve watched teams gel, comms pros solve problems they’d been grappling with and even practitioners realising their next step after finishing my training course is to leave their jobs. (That’s happened three times!).

The skills and behaviours demonstrated by communicators make me so proud to be part of this industry. Restructures, leadership changes, redundancies, new technology, mergers and acquisitions, office moves – you’re expected to do it all. Comms pros are the masters of multi-tasking. They display strength of character and resilience, roll up their sleeves, dig deep, check their thinking and get delivering and measuring.

Whenever groups of comms pros come together, incredible conversations happen that benefit themselves and employees.

Observation: When you get IC pros in a room, their generosity of spirit, willingness to share ideas/woes and work together to solve problems is unparalleled.

Thinking of investing in comms training this year?

I invite you to join me for my monthly Masterclasses, there are only a handful of places left across the courses, so do be speedy if you’d like to attend. CIPR or IoIC member? You’ll save 20% and can earn CPD points/hours while you learn.

What’s on offer?

My 2019 monthly Masterclass dates will be live on the website before the end of the year. Bookings are now open for 1-2-1 VIP Days and team days for January 2019 onwards, so if you’re thinking of investing in your personal development, do get in touch and let me know how I can help.

They all take place face-to-face in London, UK.

Choose from:

What are the Masterclasses?

My Masterclasses are a confidential space where communicators spend the whole day concentrating on themselves. Asking for help and investing time, money and effort in yourself pays dividends. Attendees tell me they leave with a confidence and knowledge boost from learning comms theory and talking through challenges with peers.

I have a closed group on LinkedIn where my alumni hang out, and anyone who attends one of my monthly courses is invited to join that community.

Below are some of the in-house sessions I’ve run for clients. I either create a bespoke session or run one of my monthly topics in-house.


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All set up, I’m looking forward to running a bespoke Masterclass for a media client today #training #allthingsic #prlife

A post shared by Rachel Miller (@rachelallthingsic) on

Thank you to everyone who has attended one of my sessions over the past 24 months.

Thank you to my wonderful PA Louise for overseeing all of the administration and ensuring everything goes smoothly. Thank you to Helen Deverell for running Writing Skills Masterclasses.

I’m looking forward to continuing to serve my clients and community via training to ensure you are equipped, enabled and empowered to succeed.

I have plans up my sleeve to continuously improve what I offer and have been investing in my own learning to aid that process. All will be revealed soon…

As ever I’m open to your ideas and feedback.

Thank you for stopping by,


Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 6 September 2018.


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