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Communication: Is anyone listening?

In order for people to hear our information above the cacophony of noise and other competing messages, our communication must be relevant, pertinent and timely. Recent studies show adults must receive the same message at least seven times before they assimilate it effectively. 

If this is the case, then we must be intentional about how and what we communicate. Below is a list of questions to aid you in becoming more effective as a communicator. 

1. What do you need to communicate? 

2. Why are you communicating this information? How does this communication or event enable ministry?

3. Who is your intended audience? Who really needs to know this information?  Is your intended audience only inside the church or is it outside the congregation? Communicate with those who need to know. Excessive and superfluous communication will cause people eventually to disengage and discard all communication, regardless of its pertinence. United Methodist Communications offers free demographic studies of your community. Contact cniedringhaus@umcom.org for more information.

4. What information do the people with whom you communicate need to know?  (NOT what do you want to tell them?) Often less is more. Keep it informal and fun.

5. What established guidelines must you retain to communicate effectively? Should you use certain stationery? Do you have a particular e-mail account from which to send "official" information? Must a particular logo or "branding" feature accompany all correspondence?

6.  What is the timeline within which the communication and response should occur? Timely delivery of pertinent information to the relevant audience will produce the best response. Consider newsletter and newspaper deadlines, e-mail sending and receiving dates, and the preparation time people need in order to participate fully.

7. What are the best forms of communication for this targeted audience?  You communicate in different ways with different audiences. Consider the ways you can communicate: newsletter, phone call, worship bulletin, e-mail, Facebook, blog, texting, personal invitation, Twitter, verbal announcement, billboard, church marquee, neighborhood flyer and outdoor banner. 

8.  What is your strategic plan for communicating this message? Are words most appropriate? Images? A combination of the two?

9. Who will take responsibility for communication? 

We compete every day for the attention of others. If we want people to hear us, we must communicate clearly, concisely and effectively. 

Communication is a form of creativity, so have fun! 

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