If you give an honest assessment to all the pieces of your communications plan, my guess is some (if not all) of them could use a little editing. That’s not a bad thing. It’s always good to find ways to shorten it up a bit to make your communication simpler.
Here are some starting points for simplifying some of your most common communications pieces.
In service announcements. It’s the weekly spot in the worship lineup dreaded by many church staffers (and some of your congregation members, too). Why? They often go on and on. Try limiting your announcement to three items. Keep each announcement short. Cast vision for why the item is important and why people should care. Know what you’re going to say and be enthusiastic.
There’s a lot of pressure to announce all sorts of activities, but limiting the space will help you stay focused on what’s important and it will help your congregation be better informed, too.
Bulletin. Use fewer words. Add more images or white space. A jam packed multiple page bulletin will never communicate your message as clearly as something simpler and edited. Some churches find success with a “Top 5 Things To Know” each week. There are plenty of creative ways to simply share your message. Don’t let the bulletin become the information dumping ground.
Weekly email. There it is. Sitting in your inbox. That church email that when opened will mean you’ll scroll and scroll wondering when the end will finally come. Much like the bulletin or announcements, limit the number of items you’re sharing. Try doing five items. Keep them short. Make the information graphically easy to sift through. (If you need help with that, check out Mailchimp. It’s great.)
Also, limit the number of emails you send. Nothing clutters your message more than sending out too many, overlapping emails to your members. The only thing that leads to is people unsubscribing.
Website. Have I mentioned more images and less text too much in this post? Well, it’s true for websites, too. People don’t want to search through paragraphs of text on the homepage. Stay focused on sharing your vision, welcoming visitors and better connecting with your members. Be more image driven. Show your church in action. Simplify the navigation to make it easier for people to find the information they’re looking for. Don’t forget to edit the sub pages, too. A clean homepage that directs people to dysfunctional sub pages isn’t a formula for a good website.
Any piece of printed material. In 2013, the best question you can ask about any brochure or booklet is “Do I really need it?” Does it fill a specific need or are you doing it because that’s what you’ve always done?
If you do need something printed, like an annual report, focus on storytelling. What is the impact, in your congregation and community, of the work you’re doing? Use more pictures and illustrations. Cut back on the text. This is a chance for you to craft something memorable.
Social media. Yes, by its nature social media is short form. But research has shown tweets shorter than the 140-character max and Facebook posts less than three sentences get better engagement. Short is in. Just look at the growing popularity of Vine and Instagram videos where content is limited to 6 and 60 seconds respectively.
A key to good communication is looking for ways to say more with less. It forces you to be more creative and helps end users better understand what you’re saying.