Church communication is necessary, and difficult. Improving communication is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. You always have to work on it.
So with that in mind, I created 10 ways to keep your communication humming. Take a look at this list – give yourself a pat on the back for the ones you’re already doing, and then experiment with adding in the new ones.
Ready? Let’s go:
- Know the purpose for every communication. If you are writing anything, write this sentence first: the purpose of this __________ is ___________. You will automatically communicate better. If you are calling someone, know your purpose before you dial the number. When you’re facilitating a meeting, clearly state the purpose up front, and come back to it again and again.
- Define yourself.Say as clearly as you can what you think, want, believe, or hope for. The effort of getting clear for yourself will improve your communication.
- Don’t worry about convincing people, just say it. Let go of how people will respond to your ideas. Don’t try to talk people into anything. It never works in the long term, and your ideas get lost in the process.
- Focus on people who are motivated. Don’t chase after people who don’t want to listen. No matter how valuable your message, they can’t hear you. Whether they are church members or your own teenagers, the principle is the same. Look for those who are motivated, whose eyes light up. They are ready for your message – so share it with them.
- Communicate with the listener/reader in mind. Even as you are defining yourself, think about those who will receive the message. What motivates them? What language do they use? Help them hear your message.
- Avoid insider jargon. Assume people don’t know Christian shorthand, Bible stories, or church acronyms. It’s better to over-explain than under-explain. One of the best ways to make newcomers feel like outsiders is to talk in cryptic language.
- Listen as much as you talk. In any meeting or conversation, monitor how much you are talking. Stop and listen from time to time. Don’t be a pastor who monologues.
- When you listen, listen fully. Spend your listening time seeking to understand the other. Don’t be too distracted by formulating an answer. If you need to answer, it’s all right to say, “I need to think about this.” Then come back to them with a clear purpose and response.
- Over-communicate when anxiety is high (and at all other times, too). Don’t assume one communication is enough. Communicate multiple times and in multiple ways. At times of transition or stress in the congregation, anxiety will make it even harder for people to hear. Double your efforts to get the message out. Never take it personally if someone doesn’t get the message.
- Remember to keep it brief. We remember sound bites, not entire speeches. Leave people wanting more. Now more than ever, people need a short, clear message.
Question for reflection: which one of these can you commit to attempting this week?