Minter Dialogue with Lisa Riemers

Lisa Riemers, a digital accessibility champion and communications consultant. Given her role, Lisa bridges the often wide gap between technology and communications teams. With her expertise, she ensures digital channels and services are accessible, meeting the diverse needs of customers and employees alike. From discussing the nuances of digital communication to the importance of making content accessible to all, Lisa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. We also explore her artistic side, delving into her passion for painting and photography, and how this creativity intersects with her professional life. Join us as we unpack the challenges and opportunities in the evolving landscape of digital accessibility, AI, and the importance of human touch in an automated world.

Please send me your questions — as an audio file if you’d like — to Otherwise, below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to rate it here.

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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS: ai, work, people, lisa, talk, gave, content, thinking, writing, find, business, words, making, image, read, accessible, google, seo, communication, put

SPEAKERS: Lisa Riemers, Minter Dial

Minter Dial  00:03

Lisa Riemers, how lovely to have you on. We were put in touch from our mutual wonderful friend Susi O’Neil, a woman who plays strange instruments and gets together interesting, eclectic people and she put me in touch with you. And I thought, hey, what better idea than to talk with you about what you do? And I haven’t had I haven’t had a guest recently speaking about your type of business and what you do So Lisa, in your own words, who are you?

Lisa Riemers  00:34

Hello, thank you for having me on the show, Minter. I am a communications consultant. I work with businesses and organizations to help improve the way they communicate with their staff and their colleagues. And also get involved in pieces of work that help them improve the way they work. I’m a digital accessibility champion. I like I tend to bridge the gap between communications and technology teams, to help organizations make sure that their digital channels, their services, and their communications are accessible and meet the needs of their customers and their employees.

Minter Dial  01:20

Wonderful. Well, we’ll get into all of that in a little bit. But you know, some I mean, since podcasts are generally audio, one is often left wondering about the person who’s speaking, you know, what do I look like? And, and, and for those who aren’t listening, who are only listening and watching on YouTube or something, they’ll be like, I wanted to ask the question. So, what kind of color hair do you think Lisa has just listening to her. And it is full on different. Lovely I would characterize it actually quite linked to my shirt as it happens, maybe a sort of a pinky fuchsia type of color, but maybe it’s different because my video my eyes don’t see it correctly.

Lisa Riemers  02:05

Well, it definitely changes. When it was freshly dyed, it was a combination of a very bright red and neon orange. As it washes the color changes. I can refresh it. And again, the tone kind of changes, but it tends to be somewhere around very bright red or orange or mixture of the two.

Minter Dial  02:28

Well, since I worked at L’Oréal in the hair, salon business, this is topic not so far from my understanding. And I understand how color works and on hair and refreshing and semi-permanent and permanent and color and all these other wonderful things. Anyway, that’s kind of a fun little nudge or nod to my old life. And more importantly, Lisa, before we get into what you’re talking about in terms of work, you also are an artist, I’d love to hear about the artist in Lisa.

Lisa Riemers  03:02

Yes, I am an artist. And sometimes it feels a bit weird for me to say that because I feel like at times, I’m not making a lot of art at the moment. But I go through phases of being more prolific with my art than my comps and consultancy work. I am a painter and a photographer. I use spray paints. But I’m not a street artist. I’ve got a lot of respect for those that are but I will use I will use spray paints or canvas. I also use acrylics, I do mix of painting whatever I see really so it could be a landscape. During lockdown. I did a lot of paintings in my back garden looking up at the sky. Because I was dreaming of going on holiday or traveling somewhere. And that resonated with people, I think. But it really varies. And I also take a lot of photography. I take a lot of photographs. I’m a member and a member, I go along to the color walk in London, which is a monthly meetup of creative and colorful people. And the only criteria to go to it is that you like wearing colorful clothes. And so, it’s a fantastic opportunity to go meet with other people. The Walk part of the name is probably a bit of a misnomer because it’s more like a color pose. We get lots of photographers turn up with proper big cameras I’ve been I’ve been quite lazy recently and I tend to use my phone. But yeah, you take pictures of each other, celebrate each other’s outfits support the flea market. It’s missing fields, spherical fields market and it’s a really nice way to connect with other creative types.

Minter Dial  04:55

Spray painting on a canvas I saw I don’t have any real I never thought spray painted except for occasionally a wall here and there. But I have to imagine that there has to be a fairly large canvas in order to accommodate the width that comes out of the spray can or are there spray paints that are extremely precise and you’re down to a fine tune tooth pen.

Lisa Riemers  05:19

It can be both. I mean, a bigger canvas is better and easier. But the thing with spray paint and I didn’t realize this till I did a workshop to find out about it is that the nozzles you can change. So, it’s a rugged one cam fits all. But you can get very narrow nozzles, you can get nozzles called fat caps that do a kind of a wider mist that covers more area. And something else I like to use alongside it is you can get acrylic paint pens to do the very fine outlines or details if you need to make sense.

Minter Dial  05:54

Well, of course, in my old life, we had things like L net, and maybe and had lots of nozzles there. And we were very interested in the type of spray that came out. Of course, this was spray for her fun to have sort of connecting dots like that for a little bit disparate from where we are. But let’s talk now about what you are up to the so what you do for a living. One of the things you said in your intro is this idea of being in between the IT and the communication segment. And it’s it feels like two anti-pods, or at least two sets of people that frequently don’t understand one another. And so, is that is that true? And then how do you cross the paths? What is it that allows for the it to understand comps and vice versa?

Lisa Riemers  06:45

I think that’s a really good point. And I was talking to someone else about this this morning about the differences in how people like to communicate dependent. And this is kind of not quite archetypes, but you often get certain types of communication that’s favored if you work in technology, versus comms say. But I often say that I’m the clumsiest person in a technology team or the techies person working in a comms team. And I think a lot of it is about taking time to understand the other party’s point of view and actually talking to them about it. Most of the time, people have a similar end objective and end result. And sometimes I think the communications folk don’t understand necessarily the technologists concerns or queries about a new channel they want to implement or who is actually going to manage something. And I think from a technical side of things, try to really understand what the comms folk are trying to achieve. Sometimes there’s a gap there, it might be the vocabulary paper using it might be that they work in very different kind of methodologies. But I think a lot of what I ended up doing is whichever team I’m in, I spend a lot more time with the other team to find out what’s going on.

Minter Dial  08:14

Yeah, so the lesson there really is, go to the others, try to understand them. And also help them understand what you’re about. Maybe identifying words that can be confusing in the vocabulary. I mean, in my book in artificial empathy I there’s a whole bunch of words that are absolutely different meanings in the tech landscape vocabulary like container, which, you know, any person would know, is but in a tech world has a different context.

Lisa Riemers  08:46

Absolutely. And I think even within the tech world, there are very similar, if not identical terms that can do that. You’ve just reminded me of a conversation that I was having at the time with the Chief Technology Officer at a government department. And we both agreed that we needed to employ a service owner for to look after the new intranet and the internal channels that were being set up as part of the digital workplace. And yes, absolutely, we both we know we need a service owner, someone to look after it. And he said to me, I write the job description, and then I’ll come back to you and see if it makes sense with what you’re thinking. And it turns out that he was looking at it from the ITIL IT delivery management service framework, which is a completely different technology framework to the Government Digital Services view of a service owner, which is more akin to a product manager or someone who has an oversight of all of the various products and platforms. And we realized we’d been talking to each other we wouldn’t I’d moved out of the digital team and into the technology to aim at this point. And we’ve been thinking we were saying exactly the same words for months. And it was only right by that before the deadline, and we were about to recruit that we realized they’d been this big misunderstanding. So, even with the best, the best one in the world, these kinds of things do happen. And I think one of the ways around that is having that shared glossary or terminology or not being afraid to ask what you actually mean by that.

Minter Dial  10:28

At the very least, have a fluid sort of communications that avoid, or at least on top of just the transaction of, hey, can you do this? For me, this is what I need, you know, which is just sort of in the parameter of the work that you’re trying to achieve? Maybe have the other conversations which, you know, hey, listen, what does actually mean to do it? How did you get to where you got to? And then, what are you trying to do in comps? What are your challenges? And, you know, with your, with your team, or with your boss, and, and what it strikes me, Lisa, in my experience, the biggest sort of red flag problem, or maybe I should say, pink flag to your hair is the brief. The briefer is written for the IT people or the creative agency otherwise, but this idea of, of providing an accurate, useful brief, is, is very difficult to do if you’re not from the other world.

Lisa Riemers  11:29

Absolutely. And I mean, that’s also suggests that a brief was written in the first place.

Minter Dial  11:36

Crazy woman?

Lisa Riemers  11:37

Yeah, I mean, yeah, I completely agree. And I think sometimes the opposite challenge is when people get really hung up on making an enormous, very wordy statement of work, that goes on for pages, but doesn’t actually explain what the original problem is.

Minter Dial  11:58

So, it might be used, they lose the forest for the trees, exactly.

Lisa Riemers  12:03

Or someone says, they come to you with the solution. And the brief is to deliver the solution rather than coming to you with the problem and getting your expertise to be able to help shape what that should look like as an end result.

Minter Dial  12:15

Well, the other issue, it seems to me is with regard to understanding the implications of a change or a specific requirement, you can go to your website guy and you say, all I need you to do is change the color a while maybe, or you know, something like that, you know, that sounds simple. But it turns out that you need to think about the color on each of the pages. And by the way, you’re going to have a clash of color on this page. Because you need to think through the issues. And then another one is to misunderstand how much work goes into the programming of some kind of program and the debugging efforts. And it’s not just a simple plug and play, at least not all the time.

Lisa Riemers  13:04

Yeah, absolutely. And I think, I think on both sides, actually, whether you’re in the communication side, or the tech side, there’s often a lot of hidden labor that goes on. So, in the same way as not necessarily understanding the technological implications of a very small change, which actually has a massive impact. I find when I’ve been on the calm side of things, people often come say, Oh, I think it’ll only take you five minutes, could you just help me with this role with this email? So, and actually, there’s a lot of admin that goes on behind the scenes to make sure you’ve got the right distribution list, and you know who they are. And it’s been up to date, it’s been checked that it’s up to date. And actually, then the formatting of it all making sure that it’s, it’s accessible. And it’s targeted appropriately. There’s quite a lot of work on both sides. And I think I think it’s very easy to, to underestimate your own workload, but also absolutely underestimate how long it’s going to take somebody else to do things.

Minter Dial  14:06

Yeah, one of the things that drives you bonkers, is your copy paste something from one document into, let’s say, Google Gmail. And it looks like it’s the right format. But when it goes out the reception, you have big font, small font, and it’s got all over the place. And because we’re in Gmail, you don’t have a, hey, let’s just see what the HTML or the code is behind it. You end up thinking this is what you know, what was the WYSIWYG? This is what I’m getting. That’s what I’m going to send, but it’s not so like you say, there’s lots of little niggly things to look at.

Lisa Riemers  14:44

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it also just reminded me of one of the things that I love about Gmail, there’s very few things I love about Gmail, because it’s always in the browser. If you are if you’re working on any kind of Google documents or any kind On if documents or webpages in the browser, you can paste, there’s a shortcut to get Ctrl Shift. All right, I’ve fallen over with what it is. There’s a shortcut. So, I think it’s Ctrl Shift V is pasting unformatted. So, then you can apply the formatting in the place that it needs it using the, the, whether it’s within Gmail, whether it’s within the WYSIWYG editor in your content management system. It’s always misleading pasting anything that’s been formatted, especially from something like Word, which does not bring its own weird tags and messes things up elsewhere.

Minter Dial  15:40

So, when you do that, and presumably, of course, every system will have a different set of key punches to do, but it’s an interesting idea, paste on formatted. But for example, when you take something that has a link as embedded, so a hyperlinked word, will it’s still keep that or because I find sometimes when you unformat, it kills those type of formats that were useful in let’s say, the Word document.

Lisa Riemers  16:06

Yeah, pasting unformatted will, will remove any links, so you would need to then put those back in.

Minter Dial  16:13

At least it’ll be the right format, size, font and all that. That’s cool. Good. Good eye. Good. Good tip there, Lisa. Alright, so um, you mentioned it just now this notion of accessibility. And when you and I met the first time, I was like, What do you mean by accessible? Is this like, is it for the people who are hard of hearing is for the people who are hard have trouble walking? And so, when you when you talk about creating accessible content, accessible design, tell us what that means? And what are the challenges around making things appropriately accessible?

Lisa Riemers  16:47

Okay, so the thing about accessibility is, it’s all of the things that you’ve just listed. There, it’s, I’ve spoken to people, particularly like tech vendors, or comms people who, there’s a lot of pushback from people that say, Well, I don’t think that a blind user would use my software, so we don’t need to worry about them. Or I don’t think we’ve got any disabled members of staff in our organizations. So, I don’t need to worry about that. But the number of people that this affects is really high. And at some point, it affects all of us. So, in the UK, the one in four people are now registered with some kind of disability. And the definition there is if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities. So, that’s people that are registered as just Oh, classified as disabled. But we could also have temporary disabilities or situational ones, I sprained my foot recently. So, for me getting around was much harder. And I had to navigate new visual systems while I went into hospital, and then looking at a list of the departments on the wall. And I needed to get an x ray, and the department was called imaging. But the lady that told me the directions to go said, it’s the X ray department. And when I got to the left, there was a long list of departments and someone typed up a little handwritten sticky note to say X ray against imaging, because it’s using language that people don’t use in their daily in their daily work. So, you know, one of the so it can affect all of us. And I think another example, I found recently not talking, not thinking about digital accessibility, but I don’t know if you’ve been to any restaurants recently where the light is quite low.

Minter Dial  18:52

On the menu, the menu print is too small. Exactly.

Lisa Riemers  18:55

And designers often push back and say, Well, I want I want it to look a certain way I want it to have a certain elegance of vibe. But it absolutely ruins the vibe when you’re sitting around a table and all of you get your phones out and put your torches on because you can’t actually read it. Even with reading glasses on, you know, they’re thinking about this situation where someone’s going to be reviewing or reading what your content is, is important.

Minter Dial  19:26

Well, we used to we used to face this all the time with shampoos, because there are the legal mentions. And then there’s a sort of marketing spiel. Yeah, and there’s also another thing called directions to use. And so, there’s some people with oversized creative egos, would say, well, we you know, we don’t need to talk so much about directions. This is focused on the marketing stuff or, or talking language it’s not relevant for people in any event at US Sighs that is readable when you have soap in your hair in your hands, so it doesn’t slip, and you got the water pouring down, is your bottle readable at that level where it counts?

Lisa Riemers  20:13

Exactly. And I had a great example recently where, thinking back to the online side of things, you know, a lot of the time we’re reading content on our phones now. So, things need to be optimized for, in most cases, a smaller screen, you can obviously get much larger eyeball screens now. But making sure the important information is available in that first part of the screen is really key. And somebody that I know invited me to the launch of their new book, but I didn’t realize that that actually included a link to sign up to that launch, because it went after their email signature. And I assumed it was, it says register for it here. And the hyperlink was behind the word here. And there were two different links that both said here. But the way they were displayed because it was in my email, because pictures hadn’t downloaded, it just looked like part of a regular email signature. And he doesn’t give people the context. So, I’d have to read the entire paragraph that came before it, to know what he meant. And so, and I replied to him, saying, Oh, I’d love to come, please send me the details. And he sent me a one line back saying there in the original email, and I appreciate people are busy. But that’s the point is that you need to make it as easy as possible for people to read this. Because if you want people to come along, or to do an action or to respond to your communication, it’s got to be really clear.

Minter Dial  21:45

Well, I’m, I’m hearing you and, and I’m feeling like there’s a little bit of not a contradiction, but a paradox, making it easy, quick, accessible as well. So, at some level, that means accessible in my mind, for example, big text, then but and immediately say what’s important. And so, you have this challenge of fitting in, especially in small screens, accessibility, because what on the one hand, be simple, be direct, give them what they need, immediately. On the other hand, there’s also a need somehow to have multiple types. So, you have to have text to audio for hearing impaired or reading or intermediate visually impaired. Vice versa. Maybe for people who are heavy or deaf, make sure you have the text that’s available on the on the video. So, you have all these other variations you need to do. And so, that’s sort of like a complexity story. And on the other side, there’s a simplicity story of given quickly what they need right away, especially on small screen.

Lisa Riemers  22:59

I think you’re right, it’s not, I’d like to say it is all simple, but it shouldn’t need to be overly complex either for you to create, or for a user to read. The thing about the way people reading online is facecam headings, they you might have heard the of it referred to as an F pattern before, where people have been eye tracking studies that have been done 20 years ago that and they’ve read the Nielsen Norman Group published more information about this more recently, that so people, they their eyes, they scan along the screen, they look across the heading, then they go down a bit, then they go to the next heading and go down a bit and trying to break things up. So, you’ve got clear headings, you’re not using too long a sentence, you divide, you split stuff out into bullets. And a lot of it is also being a judicious editor and taking out the words you don’t need. Or if there are words that you’d like to put in putting them at the bottom rather than the important links and calls to action. So, if people do want more information they can carry on reading. And if they got everything they needed in the first paragraph, and that’s great.

Minter Dial  24:16

Someone really said I love that it which is more aggravating for you a word that’s not needed, or a grammatical error. Like, you know, they went quick to the pub as opposed to quickly. So, they maybe the quickly was necessary, but they’re having that grammatical error or spelling mistake, which one gets your Gander most?

Lisa Riemers  24:43

I think it depends on the context. And you know, the tone the formality who it is you’re speaking to, who you are as a person or the organization that speaking in the first place, you know, you can absolutely be in for More news, more colloquial terms and keep it brief. But I think it’s using selecting the right number of words and no more. It’s not necessarily cutting it down to not full words. But it’s taking out the words that you don’t need.

Minter Dial  25:25

Being judicious about it, according to what you’re trying to achieve. So, that’s pretty cool. So, with the clients you work with Lisa, you can maybe mentioned some as you wish and confidentiality being what it is. But how would you describe the biggest challenges they’re facing these days and your 2024? Because I mean, obviously, so many things that have happened, I’d be curious to see here, what types of challenges your customers are facing the most and bringing you in to help repair or proof.

Lisa Riemers  25:57

So, one of the pieces of work I’ve been doing recently was a really interesting content. And copywriting work for Prentice ship provider called digital native, and they are launching, I think they might have launched it now. A new it’s a level seven, so a master’s level apprenticeship for AI data specialists. So, AI is something that’s been talked about in every organization. And I can talk, I could fill up the whole podcast about my views on AI, but I don’t know if we want that.

Minter Dial  26:35

It was actually my next question. Okay, so you’ve that space.

Lisa Riemers  26:41

Okay. So, one of one of their challenges is thinking about who it is, it’s going to be reading their literature, and who it is, that’s actually by, like, who is going to get them to deliver the services to their organization, because they know a lot about AI. And they know a lot about data. And they know a lot about the technical side of things, and bury thinking about that. The purchase process and who’s going to get in touch, it could be that there’s a technical lead that knows all about that. But it also might be someone in the HR learning development side of things, who needs to know that it meets certain criteria, but actually, they might not be as clear as to what the content is. So, it’s trying to write, trying to write what can be quite technical content in ways that the people that need to read it can understand.

Minter Dial  27:36

Right, so understanding your audience and bringing into them what they need, which sometimes is, you know, difficult, there’s difficult concepts, but you need to bring them. So, wordsmithing sounds like the sort of a way of just summarizing that problem.

Lisa Riemers  27:56

It can be words, it might also be diagrams, it might be using the same words, but breaking it down into the lists of, you know, what are the criteria, a short bulleted list? Who is this applicable for? How long does it last? It’s really breaking things down into pieces of information. So, that, again, if someone’s scanning it, they get all the information they need.

Minter Dial  28:23

I was just going to pick the AI one second, but makes me consider also, with so many things going on. So, many changes, so many platforms, apps, possibilities. And of course, AI amongst out there. I read recently that there are 90 new AI apps hinged on these new MLMs largely language models that are being developed every day. So, I’m wondering what kind of references you use to stay abreast? What are the resources or sources that you recommend for staying abreast in your space? Lisa?

Lisa Riemers  29:04

I think there are so many resources available. And I tend to I read a lot online. I think sources like Mick it’s been interesting reading what McKinsey has to say about AI? They’ve always got a lot to say about whatever latest trends there are in the industry. I think it was McKinsey that said recently that they expect 20% of revenues of all businesses in 2024 to come from AI and AI related products. Nielsen Norman Group have really good as a reference point for user centered design trends in how people use the internet and how to make sure that your digital products meet people’s needs. And there’s lots of resources available for you Thinking about accessible content. The Business Disability Forum in the UK, it’s a paid for membership place. But I’m where I was at a previous organization, we were members, they’ve also got a lot of free resources available. And also, there are a lot of really helpful resources on There have been a lot of teams working for UK Government thinking about making accessible content, talking about accessible design. And there are lots of resources on there. And I’ve spent just only from an accessibility point of view, there’s been so many resources that I keep coming back to that I’ve pulled them together into a web page on my own website, helpful for me as a reference point, and also for other people.

Minter Dial  30:48

That’s brilliant. I’m going to make sure to put all those and your link in the show notes. Because I mean, to your point, really, there are so many choices, that it can be overwhelming. And somehow to have a curated list can help at least, you know, it’s reasonable to think that you can get through a shortlist reasonable only to get through a shortlist of articles that hopefully cover enough of what you need.

Lisa Riemers  31:15

Yeah. And also thinking back on the AI side of things, the Alan Turing Institute in the UK has been doing some really interesting thinking about this. There is a process-based governance report or methodology for how you implement AI on your organization, which I know a lot of people, it’s the report they put together for department for business and trade. But they’ve got a lot of resources on their website, and there are training resources available to help you think about how I might work in your organization. And that’s certainly been a reference point for me and my clients recently.

Minter Dial  31:56

Yeah, and this really, we need to, you know, hit the egg on the head with regard to AI, because obviously, AI is usable in so many ways the McKinsey report saying 20%, part of the you know how people make you their business as people who are in the knowledge, worker area, creating content, the if people today haven’t tried to write an article through a chat GPT or whomever else, it’s almost like they’d be in the dark ages today. So, what is your approach with how to help customers, people who are in the commerce business to using AI effectively, what are the big red flags to be worried about?

Lisa Riemers  32:44

So, in terms of writing aids, there are things that AI can do that already baked into a lot of the products that we’re using. So, whereas I used to recommend for people who want to look at their, if they want to do a kind of a sense of readability check to see if they’re using too long a sentence or if they could be using some simpler words and phrases. There’s an app called Hemingway that was a great, it’s not generative AI, but it’s a good editor. But actually, Microsoft Word has a really good built in editor now that gives you a score, it makes some suggestions to improve your sentence construct and maybe do a little edit itself. It does seem to favor the Oxford comma, which doesn’t always work for people, but that it’s really useful. And that Microsoft PowerPoint as well. There are some AI designer elements in their PowerPoint Designer that make it much easier to format some images on a slide or to come up with some suggestions for the layout of the page. However, the flip side of that is I’ve got a really good friend who’s recently been made redundant as a PowerPoint Designer. And part of her redundancy process has been teaching other people in the organization how to use PowerPoint better, but she’s basically been usurped by AI. And I think she’s not the only one I’ve heard from other comms people, there was a team of people recently, who four out of the five team will let go and one person left behind to be able to review the outputs of what large language models like chapter up table giving them. And I think there’s so many IQ, it can be so useful for formulaic content, or if you’ve got something there in front of you turn this information into a very quick press release. And then you’ve got something to edit. It can speed up the formulaic content creation process quite easily for people. And then the flip side of that is making sure that you’re still adding value as a human in the process because otherwise why would you be doing this way? And somebody could just could just use at all. I think where one of the biggest challenges that AI still has is that it makes stuff up. It doesn’t have any knowledge itself. It looks at the data or the information that it’s got access to, and will respond to whatever query you’ve given it. With, with the limited knowledge it has. I used, I was trying out one of the older versions of chat GPT A while ago, and I asked about planning a travel itinerary, because I’d heard somebody else had found it was very good for that. And I asked it to give me a craft beer bar and walking distance of a hotel in in Lisbon, I think it was, and it gave me it gave me a bar, but it was a 45 minute walk away, and 45 minutes back to your hotel, when you’ve had a couple of beers might not be walking distance. So, I said, Is there anything any closer because when you start the process off, you can start refining down the responses you get. And it gave me another it gave me another one. I said, Okay, that sounds interesting. And I went to look it up. And it didn’t exist. It didn’t exist in the town at all. It was the name of a bar in a different city. But it gave me an address in the middle of a freeway. And it completely hallucinated the answer. And when I interrogated it, and I said, Are you sure that that’s the bar there? Is that Oh, no, my mistake, sorry, it doesn’t exist at all.

Minter Dial  36:40

Why didn’t you check him in the first place yet?

Lisa Riemers  36:42

Exactly. And I think it’s, you know, that’s a very, that’s a very harmless really example of, of how it can make things up. And I saw a video being shared on Twitter this week, about the largest 10 Tescos stores in the UK. And it’s so the vid, Sai has been used to generate this video, which has a series of images off the 10 stores that it’s listed in question. It’s being sung in a 70s Disco funk type thing. And it’s counting down from the top 10. And I looked at it. So, this is quite fun and enjoyable, I wonder where it’s got it from. And then the one that came in at number two, is my local test goes extra. And it’s like, I know for sure that that is not the second biggest in the UK, because it’s reasonably large, but it’s not the biggest. And I went to look it up and I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of the Tesco stores by footprint. But I was able to find enough evidence to say that it’s just scraped together what Wikipedia says plus a few other sources, and made it up. So, to be really careful when you’re using these things, because again, that’s another fun example. But there have been legal precedents from the airline in Canada, whose chatbot on their website, told somebody the wrong information about their bereavement travel policy. And the airline tried to take went to court and tried to claim that the Chatbot was a separate legal entity and they weren’t liable for it.

Minter Dial  38:23

I think even if they win that it’s a pretty crummy, crummy approach.

Lisa Riemers  38:29

Exactly. And they didn’t win. And they were told actually, that this is something that you’ve deployed, and you need to take responsibility for it. So, I think knowing I think it’s important for everybody to know, at least get to know it from a distance. You don’t have to be using it every day. But you need to be able to articulate what the benefits and limitations are to make sure that if somebody else in your business is starting to do this, and they want your input, that you’re able to give that feedback to them. And that anything that’s been implemented has been fully tested. And you’ve actually got a governance process in place so that once this new product has been launched, somebody is responsible for keeping the information up to date, and also the making sure that the latest deployment so you know, as the models get updated, that’s all managed. But yeah, knowing the limitations, but also the opportunities with it is important.

Minter Dial  39:31

Indeed, what I was thinking about while I’m listening to you is how the way you might look at or use an AI still has relevance to how we might be as a leader of people also. So, for example, taking responsibility if you’re the leader, the buck stops here. The you should take responsibility for the failures that your team have made and know and lean into that On the reverse, you can’t take credit for something that you personally didn’t do. So, be transparent that you used AI to get some way along the way. But take responsibility for the final products, whether it’s through a chatbot or, or something you’ve done. And the other thing, which is interesting is this idea of feedback, which you can talk about in the notion of a refined prompt. But the idea of giving feedback, any boss should also be giving and receiving, by the way, feedback.

Lisa Riemers  40:35

Yeah, absolutely. I think having any kind of feedback mechanism in place is good business sense, generally, for businesses, and for leadership. But I think it’s particularly important in terms of these kinds of products. They’re only as good as the data that they’re trained on. And a lot of the time, a lot of humans do need to be involved in that training process, either explicitly as part of your implementation, or a lot of them already have been involved as part of the building of the tool in the first place.

Minter Dial  41:07

And that notion, you mentioned about also needing to have appropriate governance put in place, that’s a whole probably a whole other chapter we can talk about for on there, I wanted to just finish on some sort of more practical elements. Since I’ve been blogging for 20 years. And you know fastidiously trying to stay up to date with SEO. And there’s sort of a raging debate, in my mind anyway, whether content is king or queen to SEO?

Lisa Riemers  41:41

That’s a great question. And I think actually, in today’s age of AI generated content, it’s really, it’s really important to be able to write useful information. If you’re only thinking about things in terms of SEO, a lot of the time it’s being crawled by the Google robots. And if it’s been generated by AI, you’ve got AI writing for Google’s bots. And actually, is any of this really useful for humans? Or is it just generating data for someone to point to a report?

Minter Dial  42:17

And if I might add, to what extent is AI differentiable? Because, you know, it says it gets us diluted and common as you go down and use more of these types of tools.

Lisa Riemers  42:31

Yeah, absolutely. And I think, understanding it goes back to understanding your users and what people want and what people need, and making sure that what you’re writing answers their questions. Do you know, what’s important in certain in whatever your specialism is, and making sure that if it’s at least useful, it could be that it’s useful for you, in which case, it might be useful for other people, because it might Accessibility Resources page ranks quite highly in search results, which I was pleasantly surprised about. But I’ve spent quite a lot of time pulling those resources together. And it’s mainly about accessible content. But it’s really interesting to say that it’s holds its own against the more established institutions who have who you’d think would have more, more credibility online.

Minter Dial  43:30

I get, I don’t know, maybe two or three requests a day for people to publish, on my website, free articles or paid articles and backlinks to their site. Obviously, there’s a whole industry that’s out there, I’m sort of away from that game, in general, because I’m, you know, just copy after to do all that anymore. But you who must be closer to it? What are the types? Where are we with SEO? I mean, is it still like a changing everyday kind of thing? With Google in particular, and within SEO, what should people be the most concerned about or thinking about in terms of making their site visible?

Lisa Riemers  44:20

So, there’s been a few reports recently, of how the quality of Google search results in particular has gone down over the last few years. Partly because if you’ve tried searching recently, you’ll probably notice that the first several links are all paid apps, they’re not organic results. Google wants money. Exactly. And you know, the algorithm changes every couple of years it prioritize things it D prioritizes things. A lot of the core good web sense though, will help you regardless of an algorithm change. Its writing So going back to that accessibility thing, it’s not just about, it’s making it really clear what your webpage is about. It’s using headings because those headings are crawled by the bots. So, if your headings clearly articulate what this page content is about, then it helps from a search results point of view, as well as when people have actually found the page and they can navigate it more easily. Trying to avoid big, overblown images that have got a massive file size and slow down people’s browsing. I know several years ago, that was one of the things that get one of the updates from Google was really penalizing was slow performing websites. And I think what it comes, it comes back to providing useful information that’s been clearly signposted and is clearly structured. And it’s using. Ideally, it’s using plain language, and plain language being the language that your audience understands the first time they read it. It’s not necessarily dumbing things down into a simple, easy read language, although there are cases when you do need easy read content. But using the words that people are searching for will help you. And it means that what you’re writing is more relevant to what their intention is. So, making sure that you’ve got image descriptions is also it’s helpful for SEO as it is, for people that are using assistive technology like a screen reader, it’s not a place to go and stuffing a bunch of keywords. But it is a place to be able to put a description of what that image is. So, if someone is searching in in Google’s image results, if you’ve got a description of the image against the image, it’s more likely to show up in the results, if that’s if it’s got German that people are looking for. But ideally, what you’re when you’re thinking about your image description that’s in the alt text, it is contextually appropriate. So, if you’re writing, if you’ve got a blog about visiting Australia recently, and you’ve got a picture of the Sydney Opera House, and the context of it could be Sydney Opera House on a gray day. Or if you’re writing that it was about if you’re writing about your trip, it could be a picture, I took a Sydney Opera House from the Botanical Gardens opposite. It’s giving people enough information, that if they can’t see the image, they know what the image was of, but also then it helps people find the image in the first place and then find your content, too.

Minter Dial  47:49

So, is there not some sort of artificial intelligence that could go through my site, Lisa, and add in the left out texts that I have probably only done one out of every 20 images. I mean, I have 2200 posts, and God knows how many media in there that probably have none of that is there some AI helped me can go in there and contextualize some good text, or is that just going to have to be manual?

Lisa Riemers  48:21

Some AI can do a bit of a job of it. So, if you again, PowerPoint, as an example, will suggest a description for the image, but it’s still not normally very good. Google Photos has long had this ability to understand what the images are off. And I love it. Because when I look at when I search for pictures in my Google Photos account, I can search for hats or cats or, you know, or some writing that I know it was in a picture that I took of someone slides, I can find it just by because it recognizes what’s in there. But most of the time the descriptions for to make it really accessible, it still needs to convey the intention that you had. So, it all it might say, a screenshot of a computer. But the purpose of your screenshot might be the text that’s on the screen and it’s showing something in particular to the user and if you don’t pull out the useful text, then the descriptions that it’s actually almost better not to have it because it’s not told you any more information and it’s just filler content.

Minter Dial  49:31

So, taking the name of the file, screenshot 2024 Dash 12 Dash two that’s pretty mild. Alright, well Lisa really fun having this chat with you. I really appreciate it I enjoyed getting into the weeds in an area that used to be very fluent in but I feel less and less able to stay up with it and things are changing so much so how can someone hire you track you down? Follow You don’t mean track you. But you know, follow you higher.

Lisa Riemers  50:03

So, you can connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m Lisa Riemers. You can find me on my website I’m also on BlueSky. And are the artist formerly known as Twitter as Lisa Riemers.

Minter Dial  50:22

Very consistent personal branding a good on you, Lisa, thank you so much for coming on.

Lisa Riemers  50:29

Great. Thanks so much for having me. It’s been lovely.

Minter Dial

Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.

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