Over the fifteen plus years I have been working in education, I can remember the many times I entered a school reception for the first time. That experience was very different in the varying schools I was delivering training in. Sometimes it was brand new shiny academy spaces funded by the “Building Schools for the Future” (BSF) project through to the most rural of primary schools with a reception the size of a broom cupboard.
Across all of those experiences my first impression of the school was usually always linked to my welcome. From the smiling face of the reception staff, the well thumbed visitor sign in book, or the digital signage screen facing me in the waiting area.
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With regards to the digital signage screen I would say in 90% of the schools, it was either turned off or playing content that absolutely had no effect on me. I remember one primary school in East London where the screen above reception was turned off with an A4 piece of paper blue tacked to it showing the school opening times. When asking our friends in IT what was running the said screen, it was usually a mix of USB sticks, laptops running Powerpoints or some over-complicated solution that all staff members had given up on.
Impact & impression
I saw that screen and others around the school as the perfect mechanism to create strong impressions, deliver staff messaging and inspire young people to be the absolute best they can be. But of course like any technology, the success of digital signage and impact of content on an audience is driven by a number of factors. It’s all about delivering the right message to the right people at the right time.
Making sure the content you are sharing with your audience is viewable in the time they are in that space. For example, don’t show me a twenty minute video if I’m only in your reception area for three minutes. Digital signage is an art form and for more on this and examples of how to create a fantastic first impression, I’m going to hand over to my colleague and Customer Success Manager at TrilbyTV, Tom Pickrell,
An art form is definitely a good place to start when thinking about the impact your digital signage has. Much like walking through a gallery, your audience will connect emotionally with what’s on display. They’ll feel happy, proud, inquisitive, inspired or courageous, simply from a selection of engaging, relevant content.
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First impressions count. The reception area is your chance to promote your school values, the accreditations and people that make your school unique, while reinforcing your mission for the students. This is your space to make everyone feel appreciated, understood and welcome. When we speak of a school community there are different groups to consider; parents, students, staff and visitors. Each will have their perspective of priorities that need to be catered for.
Capturing the attention of your audience
There is also a science tucked behind it all. Did you know there’s an algorithm for attention spans, factored into your favourite TV shows and movies? “Experiments in cognitive psychology have shown us that rapid changes in the visual field attract our eye movements and attention.” There are some things we are simply programmed not to ignore and digital signage creates the perfect opportunity for you to build on this.
What can be appealing to some is to use the digital signage space to push information without consideration of the impact. In a worst case scenario it’s used as a visual filler, with content that is the polar opposite of positive and inspiring. The main culprit for this is the news.
You will hear me repeat that “no news is good news” but there can be an incredible opportunity for the students to replace this with their own creation. When asking young people, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, we get answers that include the likes of YouTube and Twitch. We have to learn to appreciate and understand these changing interests in what a career should be, and feel confident the skills needed to perform them are beneficial to being a well-rounded individual, capable of achieving their own goals.
In a news room there are a lot of skills at play. Researchers, presenters, interviewers, Camera-people, editors, graphic designers and more. These are fully-fledged, existing careers which, in the case of modern media, can be performed by one person. A school news team can unleash this creativity whilst continuing to focus on the school and it’s community, and bring to light their achievements.
We’d love to hear more about your school and the impression you’d like to make with your reception display. Book a time with the TrilbyTV support team here.