Kem Meyer Stopped Here:

Welcome to one of Kem Meyer’s blog tour stops.  As I have written in previous posts it’s exciting that Kem chose AcoverPromo_100w Leader’s View as one of her tour stops.  Kem is the author of  Less Clutter. Less Noise.: Beyond Bulletins, Brochures and Bake Sales.  As I have written previously I submitted a question that Kem answered (see below) and she has given me a copy of her book that I will give to the person that best answers the following question: “How can you best use Kem’s answer to facilitate communication in your organization?”   Submitt your answer to that question as a comment to this post, I’ll be picking a winner by Monday.

Also visit Kem’s blog (she’s listed on my blogroll) to see where the other stops are on her tour.  Take the blog tour!  Nothing like getting 26 great ideas about communication all in one day!  Also encourage her if you get a chance noticing her twitter posts she didn’t get much sleep last night answering the questions for the tour.  So here we go with my question and Kem’s response.  Thank you Kem for including A Leader’s View on your tour!  


What are your top 10 (5 will do) ways to communicate effectively?


 I’m impressed. You found a loophole to the one question rule: ask for ONE list of TEN things. Very sly. Very effective. Let’s compromise on eight, because you’re smart and your question is good.

Whether it’s in the message or announcements at a meeting or event—there are eight great things you should know about people if you want them to hear what you’re saying. This list may not make our job easier, but I guarantee it can help make us more effective communicators.

1.      People aren’t open to your change prescription. Of course, we want to inspire people to be part of something bigger than themselves, to break unhealthy patterns, and live a life of purpose. But, when we dictate “you need to step it up” or “it’s time to go deeper,” it communicates we have all the answers, and we think people aren’t ok where they’re starting. They already know they’re not as good as they want to be, and we just make it worse. Instead, open their minds and get them thinking. Try “this might be your next step,” “here is an opportunity for you to consider,” or ask the question “what is your next step?” Remember, everyone’s next step looks very different. One person’s next step might be to invest or volunteer more but, for another, it may be to finish out the evening without leaving early. And, each of these next steps is equally important.

2.      People aren’t motivated by your need. When people hear “We really need small group leaders” or “We really need your help,” they perceive desperation and self-centeredness. And, since they’ve got needs of their own, your ask feels like one more to add to the pile. Your message should be about the great things that change life for the guest, not about what you (or your church or organization) needs. When you communicate, “Here’s a cool opportunity not everyone knows about” or “You might want to be part of this one-of-a-kind experience,” it makes it about them, not us, and it motivates people to move.

3.      People don’t know who you are. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been around, introduce yourself, every time. Even if it’s just for the one new person in the room. When you just get up and start talking, it communicates two things to the guest: exclusivity (everyone’s already in the club except for you), and you’re pretentious (assuming everyone already knows who you are). Even if it is just a couple of sentences, always take the time to introduce who you are and why you’re there.

4.      People multi-task and can’t remember squat. It’s human nature to tune out the talking head in the front of the room as you look through your purse, replay the ride there in your mind, or mentally run through your to-do list for what’s next. And, if you’re lucky enough to have a room full of people with full attention spans who are actually hearing you, there is no guarantee they will remember what you said when they walk out of the room and back into their lives. Visually support your verbal announcement to grab and hold attention, clarify information and raise the interest level of your audience. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. A printed program, PowerPoint slide, table tent, or sign all work fine. Just remember, don’t read directly from your visual aids. They’re not your script, but a separate component that reinforces your words.

5.      People are turned off by lack of preparation. Prepare your announcement so your audience “catches it” within 30 seconds. If it’s important enough to announce, then it’s important enough to prepare for. Try to cast vision by answering these questions: What is so special about this opportunity? Why should I spend my time on it? How is it going to make my life and me better? Remember, you’ve got no more than 30 seconds.

6.      People relate when you talk about them or people like them. Tailor your announcement to your audience. Whenever possible, customize a broad message to a specific audience to make a bigger impact. Even if the announcement doesn’t change, it makes all the difference when you find a way to highlight a unique attribute for your specific audience. For example, if you’re talking about volunteer opportunities at the food pantry to a group of moms, tell them to bring the kids. If you’re talking about the same volunteer opportunity to a group of students, tell them about the donuts that will be there. Help them see how they can specifically use the information you’re sharing.

7.      People feel left out and frustrated when you use insider language. Don’t assume everyone is in the know; most people aren’t. Avoid the use of acronyms or nicknames. Does everyone know what “The Verge,” “TRL,” or “Lifeline” is? Be specific and clear, not clever. If it’s for middle-schoolers, say so. Once people are on the inside, feel free to use insider language. But, it’s never cool to use it in announcements for large groups, connection events, first-serve opportunities, etc. When you do, you can bet that you are alienating guests.

8.      People are not impressed with your technical vocabulary or holy dialect. Use normal, everyday language. Skip the phrases that are weird and scary to normal people. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Picture yourself walking into a professional office setting and trying to have a normal conversation using words such as saved, sanctified and washed in the blood of the lamb. When we use religious words, guests either don’t get it or will run from us, so they don’t “catch it.” Keep it simple and keep it real. Avoid over-spiritualizing and over-complicating your conversation. Your announcements aren’t more credible with an entire list of “blessed” or technical phrases.


15 responses to “Kem Meyer Stopped Here:

  1. Great answers and really good topic too. I had a list of four, but mine are for a completely different audience than yours (ages 2 and 6), so your readers probably wouldn’t find much use in them.

    • You never know Courtney, you may be needed to do announcements in KidPoint Green and Purple some day! Thanks for following along. Thank you, too, for all you do @ LifePoint!

  2. Very clever question indeed! Kem’s answers are very good. I love “People multi-task and can’t remember squat.” The first one is kind of hard-hitting as well – don’t tell people to step-up?? That’s hard for me 🙂

    • Thank you Larry. Glad you are reading the blog. I went to yours. I’m going to recommend it to a couple of friends of mine and book mark it myself.
      Many blessings,

  3. Okay, I was going to be ambitious and respond to all eight, but decided that wasn’t realistic. If I can take and work one of these it will go a long way. I am contextualizing the answer to meet me where I am as a Small Groups Pastor, not as service host making announcements. “People aren’t motivated by your need” struck me, so, here goes.

    One of the dangers in leading a ministry is to feel, and then carry, the full burden of finding and developing volunteers. I think one of the reasons leaders often come across as “desperate” to find volunteers is because good leaders have a passion for what they lead and are wholly committed to see the vision realized. The problem is when we place the burden squarely on “us” and miss the bigger picture.

    Here’s the bigger picture, and where I’ll make my personal application. It’s God’s work to call someone into a particular ministry. He’s gifted them, uniquely skilled them, built into them passions, life experiences, desires, and a personality all their own. He knows where they would best fit in ministry, I need to trust that. I need to trust that He is working to accomplish His purposes, trust that He loves people, and His Church far more than I ever could, and is more committed to see life change happen than I ever will be. I need to turn the desperation I have for small group leaders to surface away from a frantic search into faithful supplication.

    So, instead of communicating self-centeredness, and glazing over the simple fact that people have needs of their own I want to:

    1. Communicate with God asking Him to prompt people with the passion and gifts that match my area of ministry to sense the opportunity and then engage.
    2. Communicate the opportunity that is uniquely one-of-a-kind and life-changing, not only for the volunteer, but for the influence they will have in the lives of others.
    3. Communicate how this opportunity will do far more for them than it will me.
    4. Communicate real-life stories of transformation experienced by others who chose to serve.

    That’s my stab at it. Thanks to Kem for taking the time to answer Dave’s question, and for providing awesome insight and material free of charge! I hope I did justice to your insight and didn’t completely hijack it’s context. The other seven are great too, and I plan on looking deeper into them as well.


    • I like it! I like it! Let’s see what else I receive comment-wise. You’ve set a real high bar that will be hard to beat.

  4. #2 stands out to me. I’ve heard the sinking ship analogy. “Hey everyone, we’re gonna need a few of you to grab some buckets this summer to help us get the water out of the boiler room on the titanic, sign up in the back”. Generally speaking, people aren’t motivated by a helpless cause. It is exciting to see them catch vision, but it isn’t fun to communicate desperation from the front.

  5. What a helpful post! Excellent question Mr. Baldwin…so glad I checked your blog today. I have recently stepped in as communications coordinator at my church and am trying to help direct some paradigm shifts in communication, and I’ve saved these eight tips and am planning on sending them to our staff as a great guide to more effective ways to communicate.
    PS, I was just running some new policies by one of our ministry directors and I found out that she’s your daughter!! What a small world!
    So to sum up, great question and great job raising Mandy:)

    • Tasha, great to meet you like this! I like your idea! You are now in the running for a free book! Hope things go well in your new position. What we say about Mandy is it’s 130% the Lord and -30% us! We love her tons.

  6. These are great answers to a slick question and really hit on a key indicator of Christian maturity, that is, moving beyond being consumed with self and reaching out.

    My cents:

    #1 & #2: It’s really about allowing others to take ownership of their decisions. While most of us need a nudge from time to time, once external expectations are imposed, or worse, micro-managed, we no longer own the decision and it’s all about people-pleasing and not one’s personal relationship with God.

    #3: New one to me and I’m guilty at times. Two weeks ago I attended a meeting over at the ego palace (Pentagon) and the Chair of the group, a senior Defense exec, opened the presentations with no introductions whatsoever. I recall thinking, what’s wrong me?! I’m supposed to know this dude and these people? Felt like I stumbled into the wrong room. The takeaway here is situational — if it’s a small group, make one-on-one contact in advance with the new attendees. In a larger group, introduce but also be sure to acknowledge new attendees and make them feel welcome.

    #4: All true, but Powerpoints can be used as an outline and memory aid (for us oldsters). One observation about LifePoint — the mobile phone power-down rule removes a huge distraction. Even in the most stimulating settings, it’s like my BB calls out to me, perhaps it’s an ADHD thing. On Sundays I just leave the thing in the car. Glance around the worship center — everyone is focused on the front (or God). It’s wonderful!

    #5: One thing I’ve learned from writing and briefing communicae’s for/to senior DoD execs: “BLUF”. I start all point papers and presentations with it. Means “Bottom Line Up Front”. Info overload is killing us, especially leadership. We live in a world of well-timed sound bites! Must-read for presenters: “Say it Six” by Ron Hoff.

    #6: Adult crowds relate well to examples and analogies about raising kids. Thirty-somethings: babies and small kids, 40s-50s crowd: teens and college. This topic is generally gender, race, ethnic, socio-economic neutral and effectively breaks the ice and calms nerves (on both ends).

    #7: Churches get an unfair rap for this one. Insider language, acronyms, clichés, etc. are commonplace, especially in government. In the DoD of late, the new buzz word is “Joint”, as in Joint Army and Navy Events, etc. My favorite new term is “Joint Basing” I love the expressions when people hear that for the first time. Of course, it also outs the former (& current) dopers! 🙂

    #8: Hymn writers and clergy are the culprits (sorry). Church folk repeat what they sing and hear. (nuff said about that one)

    Removing my Miter now and replacing it with a golf cap. 🙂

    • Hey Steve,
      Thanks so much for the comments. Great stuff. You are in the running for the book. Hope to see you on Sunday, or evening tonight.

  7. Hey Dave,

    Great question and great answers!! If more churches followed this list, I think a lot more people would be drawn to churches. Little things matter a lot.

    Also, thanks so much for being so kind and welcoming to our friend who came for the 2nd time today. I told Mike on our way home that if there was anyone I would have wanted him to meet, it would have been you, so that was very neat Mike had already let you know he and his family might be coming.

    • Thank you for your kind words. It would be great to see you @ LifePoint some day helping us with communications. You’d be GREAT!!
      Give my regards to Mike. Can’t wait to get to know your friends better.

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