Here at SwarmOnline we conduct what we call “Toolbox Talks” once every fortnight. A Toolbox Talk is a short 20 minute presentation by a member of staff on a subject of their choosing (provided it’s relevant to the business!). These are broadcast internally within the company via a private YouTube account. The intention of the talks is to help facilitate the knowledge transfer between members of staff and to encourage sharing ideas and building the team’s overall understanding of something new to them and is a great way of keeping the engagement level high. Below are some tips and lessons learned for any organisation who may be looking to do the same.
The first hurdle I personally found when conducting these talks was keeping things on schedule. Every staff member had a variety of responsibilities already and often due to external factors such as high priority tasks, client meetings, etc; talks can often get delayed. From that experience I tried to make scheduling a bit more flexible, opting not to set a strict date, but instead set a desired date and go live when possible around our client commitments.
Live vs Remote
Most of this article covers the remote broadcasting part of conducting talks, since that’s where most of the setup and issues occur. However, half our staff are able to watch live and ask questions afterwards. This can provide more valuable information to the interested parties, but also allows us to continue to conduct the talk when faced with technical issues. So when all the things that can go wrong do, value can still be extracted.
It almost goes without saying but better equipment will result in a better viewing experience for those watching remotely. Consider investing in a good microphone and camera setup, but don’t be afraid to get started with what you have since the experience gained will be valuable later down the line.
Good tools are important! You want to be able to conduct a talk with minimal setup and maximum reliability if possible. I’ve found the following tools greatly useful.
- YouTube Live – www.youtube.com
A well known one, but YouTube’s tools for broadcasting live content are second to none and highly reliable. This also works out very well for us internally since we use G Suite for email and all members of staff can login to gain private access.
- OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) – obsproject.com
An excellent open source broadcasting tool that can stream directly to YouTube. It also gives you a full suite of ways to customise the broadcast, add messages, add `live soon` messages and more.
Expect Technical Issues
Especially with the live portion of the talk, technical issues are to be expected. A few audio issues especially have impacted the members like to watch remotely. The best advice here is to be constantly learning from these mistakes and adapting your approach to avoid them. A bit of experimentation may be required but these aren’t professional level talks and different approaches can have surprising results.
Toolbox Talks for us are a unique and useful way to share information internally. In total they should only take up to 30 minutes to conclude and can provide valuable information on either a familiar topic or a completely foreign one.
If it sounds like an interesting idea then we recommend you try them out in your own organisation and share your results with us.
If you want to find out more about careers at SwarmOnline and the learning development opportunities that we provide, check out our careers page now!