by Oonagh Power
Head of Editorial Services & Senior Communication Consultant
Toolkits. Playbooks. Blueprints. User Guides.
These helpful “how to” guides go by many names, but all provide users with expertise on demand. And that’s why they can be so successful.
No matter what you call them, they are easy-to-use resources that drive consistent messaging, processes, and ways of working.
Toolkits offer targeted audiences a “one-stop-shop” with quick access to communication tips, content, assets, resources, and processes. They can be used for program launches such as rolling out a Global Parental Leave benefit or celebrating a company-wide milestone, and for specific functions or complex processes such as an M&A playbook.
So, how can you create a best practice toolkit?
Follow one guiding principle: keep the end users in mind. As you gather and organize your content, keep your team focused on why and how users will access and use the information.
Proven practices to keep in mind:
Do we really need so many details? Probably not. Limit the technical content to just the essentials. If information applies only to some readers or you’re required to include specific language from your lawyers or SMEs (we’ve all been there), create a one-page fact sheet and link to it “for more info.”
Do I talk like this in real life? Expert tip: read it out loud. Seriously. If you feel overly formal saying the words, edit with a goal of using simpler language and keeping the tone conversational. Take out the jargon. Think about what you’d say if you were explaining the content to a friend.
Is the content relatable? Toolkit users need to see how they can apply the information. Make it more meaningful by including examples, proven practices, cautions, success stories, expert advice, and links to helpful tools. And remember to spell out acronyms, even the ones you think everyone knows.
Is it useful for everyone? Add value and create synergy for the wider organization: If a tool or template was created for a specific group/sector/function/region, think about how to broaden the scope so more people can benefit. For example, a compliance or communication toolkit may be of value in many areas of an organization.
Is it visually overwhelming? Think about the last time you opened a file that was page after page of long paragraphs. You were probably tempted to just close it. Make your information more appealing by using short paragraphs, subheads, bullets, charts, and other visuals. If you have a budget for design, use it to help break content into bite-size pieces.
It’s ready! Have you launched your toolkit for success? Your team has spent months developing a comprehensive toolkit, now you want to ensure the right employees know about it – and they use it! It’s important to walk users through the toolkit, and explain where they can access it. Educate users so they can hit the ground running.
Toolkits make it easy for you to share information consistently and broadly across borders and functions—but only if they are organized and communicated in a way that is easy to understand and simple to navigate.
Need help developing a toolkit that really works? Contact us.