We all know that video, audio, and multimedia can be powerful tools for building your Web site, making it more informative, and maybe even entertaining your visitors. But what about your intranet? Could the Web site that is only accessible to your employees be more engaging with a splash of audio or video?
Implementing some multimedia tools in a smart way can go far in ensuring your intranet is an important part of your internal corporate communication vehicle.
Video is an easy first step to liven up an otherwise boring intranet. With video you can convey concepts that plain text might not be able to communicate as well. Training messages, corporate policies, and other important information can all be supplemented through video. You might wish to use your own video server to manage the videos and distribute them to your employees or you could opt to use an online video-sharing service and password-protect it so only authorized users can access the video. How to Create Streaming Video is a great resource about showing video on Web sites. Smallbiztechnology.com provides information on video streaming services.
If moving pictures are too big a leap, consider still pictures. Remember the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” When you have a company picnic or are sharing the latest information about travels to a satellite office, for example, why not include images? Instead of just uploading a photo or two, consider creating a collage or a digital presentation with music to make the otherwise static images more dynamic.
Your intranet doesn’t have to just be a vehicle to disseminate information; it can also be a very powerful teaching tool. For example, if you have ever played or watched your children play Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? or Oregon Trail you know how powerful interactive games are. You read, answer questions, and make decisions. You advance based on your correct decisions. If you’re wrong, you learn. Consider working with a developer to make a custom application for your business, adding a bit of interactivity to corporate policies and training messages. Reading a 25-page manual about sexual harassment is one thing; having employees make decisions on the subject is much more powerful.
If you’re looking to add a personal touch to your intranet, consider creating an avatar. It may seem paradoxical but having an artificial presence can add warmth and engagement, better attracting the attention of your intranet audience. An avatar can be one-dimensional (giving information) or it can be a way to request information. SitePal, SpeechAgents, and WebsiteTalkingHeads.com are some resources to consider.
Want a voice but not the face? Podcasts continue to be a growing source of information for busy professionals. Podcasts can broadcast right from your intranet and can be a powerful tool for communicating to your employees. Imagine having a weekly podcast or an eight-hour-a-day “radio show” comprised of various audio streams related to new human resource policies, health and safety tips, regulatory issues, and so on. During lunch breaks or when passive listening is appropriate, your employees can tune in to the “corporate intranet radio station.”
Finally, don’t let your presentations die in the boardroom. PowerPoint presentations, for example, are useful for employees to refer to and use for their own when appropriate. Instead of publishing these files as PowerPoint presentations, publish them as Flash presentations, which can be easily displayed on your intranet. Your intranet doesn’t have to be limited to just presentation files either. Users can upload and share Word files, Excel spreadsheets, and just about any other document you want distributed throughout the company. Of course, it’s important to consider who gets access to what.
Ramon Ray is a technology evangelist and editor of Smallbiztechnology.com. He is the author of Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses and has written numerous technology articles and technology news posts. He produced the first, second, and third Small Business Summit. He has appeared on CNBC’s The Big Idea and serves on the board of directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.