The Power of Brevity in Communicating for Change

We say too much.

Do you ever catch yourself talking to your child, spouse, or friend trying to get them to understand your perspective? The more you talk, the more they seem to disengage. So when you feel they’re not listening, you talk more. And it becomes self defeating. But we’ve all been in the opposite seat!

Your church is probably the same. You announce things from the stage, you put things in the bulletin, you pin posters to a bulletin board, and you post on your website and social media. And you STILL have the congregation calling the church office wondering about the information. It’s so frustrating! So you say or type more.

When you should do less. Here are 4 suggestions on how to solve the problem:

  1. Stop talking before they stop listening. We know attention spans are reduced. Be aware that most stop listening a lot sooner than we want to admit. Stories and testimonials will get people to listen longer. So… tell stories and testimonials. But don’t abuse them. Keep them short too.
  2. Stop writing in methods that few will read. Unless someone is reading a story or testimonial, people don’t prefer to read paragraphs much. That’s why most of my articles are bullet points, short paragraphs, or eye-interruptors, in order to get people to scan and “catch” the information.
  3. Learn how to give just the benefits. When giving an announcement or message, consider what the big take away will be. If some said, “I’m sorry I didn’t catch that, what did they say?” think about what your brief answer would be. Eliminate most everything else. Most don’t want to be told the details (they’ll forget them); instead people want to know a reliable place to retrieve the information when they want it. That’s your website. I hope.
  4. Tier your communications. Don’t waste everyone’s time with the information of some. Stop announcing event details to the congregation (bulletin or stage) when fewer than 80% that are listening would be interested. When the crowd stops listening, it’s near impossible to get them to start again. Every ministry and event should know when and where their information can/will be posted based on their ministry tier. This ultimately allows you to say less to a group who’ll listen more — because the information is geared to them!

Repeat after me. Say less; they’ll listen more.

> Read more from Mark.


 

Interested in learning how to say less? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Listening Practices for Church Communicators

There should be a constant tension: a communicator enjoys talking and pushing information, but an effective communicator must listen more than they talk.

See, to truly engage with an audience, it has to be a conversation. And there’s nothing worse than a one-sided conversation! The struggle often comes when a communicator feels they’re being paid to push communications, and there’s limited time for that; so how can anyone actually have time to listen? A good conversation requires talkers and listeners.

Here are 3 ways you should listen better:

1. When something’s added to your calendar. A good church communication process starts with a solid communication calendar. That easy place where all ministries can add their events in advance. In fact, they should add their events as soon as they start considering the planning of them. When there’s an addition, you need to plan a brief meeting with the leadership to listen to their goals, vision, and expectations. What exactly would the “win” be? This isn’t the time to caution them or tell them what you can’t do for them. Instead, encourage them to do better ministry as you advocate for their audience. Ask them how you can help them.

2. Any time you’re near your community or congregation. Often, we have so many responsibilities during our services or special events that it’s hard to slow down for listening. But it should be a privilege to have your audience near you. Take the opportunity to ask questions and listen for their answers. Do they have ongoing concerns? Questions? Looking for anything you’re not delivering? You may be able to solve them instantly or you may have to research an answer. Since you need to constantly have them in your mind as you plan ministry events, this is your time to soak in who they are, what they’re looking for, and how they feel a disconnect. Often you’ll hear themes that can be solved at a higher level.

3. After a ministry event. When something is fresh in everyone’s mind, like right after an event, you need to ask questions. How can we do better next time? Did we meet your expectations? What response did everyone feel? Take excellent notes and file them in a place that allows you to plan better next time. Bring them out during the initial planning meeting and remind everyone of specific issues. You’ll be valued for that information! Don’t be quick to defend yourself or your team; listen, have empathy, and clarify. Listen for questions directed at you before you start explaining.

Your communication role is to promote engagement (within leadership, your congregation, and your community) and to understand all your audiences well enough so that you can quickly make decisions when the time requires it. Today, listen more. Listen better.

> Read more from Mark.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn how to improve your communication skills.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Church Communication Mistakes to Avoid

Jesus shared the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew and Luke) because we need to weigh the cost of what we’re building and start with the proper foundation.

The church today is scrambling to replicate communications from other churches. They see them spend money on something interesting, so they think they should do it too. Sometimes that works, however, if the proper foundation isn’t present, the components you’re building prove to be costly.

Here are 3 costly mistakes many churches are making in the communication department:

1. Not building an audience. I was recently lamenting the amount of political TV commercials and calculating how much each network must profit from political funds. But the opportunity to air the commercials (and make a gazillion dollars) wouldn’t be present if they didn’t build an audience before the political season. If they didn’t have the people, the campaigns wouldn’t choose them for their communications. The lesson? Build an audience for your church everyday so that when you have a particularly important message to relay, you’ll have them. SOLUTION: Pinpoint your audience, their needs and goals, and deliver them. Ensure all your communication vehicles are consistently needed, and promote them so you have as many followers as possible. On social media, try to entertain/influence/educate your audience in such a way that they want to share their experience with others on their wall.

2. Not establishing a communication thread. Your ministries need a unifier. Since everyone wants to feel unique and different, leadership wants to try new things and standout above those around them. It becomes a competition between ministry groups to see who can stand out more. The outcome? Often ministry silos start to destroy the foundation of your local church. Everyone becomes known for their own brand rather than a consistent communication thread that unites your church. SOLUTION: Unify the church messaging around one benefit or goal and you’ll save money because the message reaches and resonates farther. It’ll also give you a foundation for tiering your messaging and will allow you to be known for something in your community (so you can build a bigger audience).

3. Thinking an App will solve your Issues. “All the cool churches have apps, so we need one too”. We hear this regularly. But the truth? It’ll add another tool to maintain, another communication message to push (please download our app), and it’ll be a constant struggle to get your congregation to engage with it regularly (most apps are only used once and then stored in a folder to never be used again). What happens? You’ve spent a lot of money on a tool that simply replicates what your website should be doing. SOLUTION: Ensure your church has a trusted, responsive (mobile ready) website instead of an app. Everyone regularly uses websites to locate information on their built-in browser, so why struggle getting them to adopt another tool when your URL (that they already know) can deliver almost everything that they need? Geofencing and push notifications are perhaps the only reasons to have an app. But you’ll still need a solid website as a foundation, so spend the money on perfecting an amazing web experience before ever spending money on an app. Usually a good website is all you need.

Read more from Mark.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about improving your Communication!

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.