Four Days to Populate a Portal

Red fireworksSituation
You have a new intranet portal and enough filler to just about get by for now, or your aging portal is embarrassingly thin on content. You want to – have to — inject substance and excitement that will engage and challenge employees, and you want to move quickly.

Upcoming is an intra-company conference with outside keynoters, an attendance list that generally reflects the organization’s makeup, and an agenda that addresses the critical issues of your organization. Let’s say at the conference there are:

  • three canned but data/lesson-rich speeches by industry/motivational speakers;
  • three multi-hour seminars on company initiatives (innovation, operational excellence, etc.), each led by an executive and involving break-out groups;
  • twelve topical, in-depth presentations by company experts;
  • three idea-spawning, breakfast roundtables; and
  • one schmooze reception.


  • Figure out how the 95% of employees not at the conference can attend later and virtually — attend, I said, not be told about it.
  • Produce at least 85 pieces of content that can structure, populate, and jumpstart your portal.

Crazy, huh? Nope. I’ve done it, and so can you. Anyone can extract a lot from what seems like a little if you’re inquisitive, imaginative, and persistent, and you think in terms of information that is chewable and easily digested.

Think about what a company conference is: a social network of resourceful people gathered in one place to exchange extensive information, deep knowledge, and innovative ideas that can benefit the organization and themselves. Sounds like an intranet portal.

What better way to demonstrate your department’s impact on the bottom line than to squeeze out every ounce of return on the enormous tangible and intangible investment in the event by capturing, massaging, repurposing, repackaging, and marketing its wealth of content online and letting everyone attend whenever they want? So, add 10-15% to the event’s cost (outside resources plus your time) to replicate and move this temporary portal to your permanent portal.

To illustrate the extraction process, I’ll focus on only one segment: the keynoter. Here’s what you’re after.

Human interest vignette
From profile and viewpoint articles about and by a keynoter, and perhaps from company folks who know him/her, you should be able to find some interesting tidbits. You’re looking for poignant life lessons to inspire employees or a connection to your organization: grandfather worked there, university classmate of the CEO, etc.

Presentation clipsEmployees aren’t likely to read a transcript of the presentation or watch it in its entirety, but you still want to video-record the remarks, if permitted. I’ll get to the “why” soon.

Data PowerPoints
Get permission to use the speaker’s data slides.



Answers to edgy and list questions
Arrange a 30-minute interview with the speaker in the suite, which will appear relaxed and personal on the portal, or a 10-minute, on-stage interview, which offers a journalistic feel with immediacy and authenticity.

Avoid predictable, softball questions; ask tough, even edgy questions to stir a measure of passion, animation, and rawness in the answers – you know, credibility. And be sure to ask at least two questions that involve a list — portal users like lists — such as: “What would be three signs that an organization – this organization – was in danger of failing?” or “What are the two most influential books you have read in recent years?”

Poll question
Have the speaker pose a question that she would like to ask your employees. This could be a research question she has used with various companies.

Application comments
At the conference, video-record four or five company attendees for their take on the speaker’s remarks. Get beyond the enthusiastic comments to the grist by asking: “What did you bring away from the speaker’s remarks that you might integrate into your department’s work?” Or, “What would the organization look like in a year if everyone were to implement what speaker X recommends?”

Here’s a list of what you can produce for the portal from just the one presenter:

  • 1 short, written human interest sketch, perhaps with an absorbing photo or two.
  • 1 life-lesson piece: e.g., overcoming a deficit; recovering from mistakes.
  • 2 book recommendations for the “Further Reading” portal section, with links to Amazon for purchasing.
  • 1 abstract from an industry journal or embeddable YouTube clip, in which the speaker comments on some company-related topic.
  • 1 block of videoclips lifted from the presentation and interview and organized by topic (state of industry, charting your career, etc.). Employees click on a topic of interest and watch the brief recording.
  • 1 complete, but edited recording of the presentation, broken up by occasional on-screen, organization-application questions. Departments can use this on the portal for group discussions and idea-generation.
  • 1 “Get Smart” section, educational, background piece on a concept used by the speaker: e.g., risk analysis
  • 3 call-out quotes from the presentation and interview.
  • 1 “Applications” section on the portal incorporating videoclips of at-conference employees’ comments and written interview notes about their experiences and perspectives on the speaker’s issues.
  • 3 links from the speaker’s comments to related materials extracted from company publications.
  • 5 links to experts within the organization on various issues raised by the speaker.
  • 1 Infographic representation of a point made by the keynoter.
  • 5 links to in-house courses and third-party, online courses for those who want or need to gain further knowledge and skills in a particular subject.
  • 4 PowerPoint data images from the presentation, with captions.
  • 1 “Poll.” Share the portal poll responses later with the speaker, and consider asking her for a paragraph or two of commentary on the results. Post that.
  • 2 online discussion “Forums” on the portal around two of the speaker’s comments

Roughly, you should be able to reap 30 or more articles-images-factoids-videoclips-whatevers from just one speaker. More importantly, you will have created content that should encourage employees to be content-makers.