Making Communication Work for You and Your Organization
September 11, 2006
Kevin Monroe, Partner, X Factor Consulting, LLC
Last month we introduced our series on communications by exploring the increase of noise and the increasing challenges at making our messages "rise above the noise" and reach our intended recipients. Before we begin looking at specific mediums for communications, let's look at some principles that apply to all written communications.
In all communications it is imperative that you know your audience. As nonprofits and ministries, you actually have several audiences with whom you communicate in any given month.
- Community Partners
- Institutional Funders (foundations, government agencies, etc)
Our approach to each audience should be appropriate and respectful of that audience. Avoid using the shotgun approach of writing one piece to include all groups and expect the reader to figure out what part applies to them and what action we hope they take.
- What is the message you are trying to communicate? Make sure your message is clear to your audience.
- Be clear with the "call to action". Is there a way for the reader to volunteer, donate or get more information?
- Write for the appropriate reading level. Most experts place the general public reading level somewhere between grades six and eight.
- Avoid jargon and technical terms.
- Use as many words as necessary to communicate, but don't feel pressured to fill the page with text. Bullets, white space, graphs and pictures assist in communication.
Be careful about the tone of your writing. Be careful not to come across as arrogant, angry or aloof. Also be aware of the frequency and urgency of your communications, especially when communicating with donors. If the only time they hear from you is the urgent appeal to address a financial crisis, it begins to be like the boy who cried wolf and your communications go unread.
Have someone else read your article and provide feedback on the clarity and tone of the message. Don't solely rely on spell check to be your editor. You may spell the word correctly, but use it incorrectly (for example, there and their).
Next month we will begin looking at specific communication mediums.