Welcome to one of Kem Meyer’s blog tour stops. As I have written in previous posts it’s exciting that Kem chose A 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.