We?re church communicators. We have an important message to share with our congregations and our community! A picture could be worth a 1000 words, but we also rely on actual words.
Why? Because more and more, people are reading less and less. That?s why MORE will read if you say LESS. But our communities ignore us, so we have the bad habit of saying twice as much since people are barely half listening. We end up contributing to the noise that drowns out our messages.
Let?s stop that. Instead, as a better communication strategy, limit your words and choose them very carefully. Stop using words that don?t make sense or mean nothing to the people we?re trying to reach.
Words matter. But then fewer words each matter more.
Let me suggest eliminating specific ones. This list isn?t exhaustive, but they are the most abused. Most of them have little meaning, a bad connotation, or shouldn?t be associated with our churches.
Remember, in social media the most engaged posts are short and abbreviated. Twitter, with their 140 character limit, has it right. Keep all social media posts to that brevity. On church webpages, it?s best to keep your content to 50-75 words and make them scannable (headlines, subheads, bullets) and interestingly, the same holds for emails.
Stop writing before people stop reading. Most people only want to spend about 10 seconds on a digital form of communications (and less than 3 seconds on social media posts). The average American reads about 300 words/minute so in10 seconds most can capture only 50 words.
Church, please eliminate these 10 words/concepts so that your messages are clear, concise, full of love, edifying and shorter!
- Welcome. You are welcome. I?m pretty sure every person who?s reading your message knows you?re welcoming them. Just get to the point and don?t take up character count or word count with this understood concept. Worst offender? The church web homepage.
- Announcing. Again, we know you?re announcing it. Perhaps use it as a header, but not in each announcement.
- Check out _____________! Sometimes we think that this gets attention (ie. Check out our new early service!) but often it?s seen as promotional babble. Be more creative. Or give a benefit to what you?re telling them about (ie. Our new early service is convenient for those headed to the beach later in the day).
- Relevant. The fact that Churches have to say they have something relevant accentuates a bigger church issue. Everything you do should be relevant. This word really has no meaning.
- Love on people. Perhaps this statement should come with free wet wipes. I can?t imagine a community member eager to arrive and be loved on. Or have a church group come to them and love all over them.
- Mission or Vision. Stop telling people about these internal messages. Instead, tell stories that demonstrate them. I can?t imagine a restaurant sharing their business plan in an ad or promotion. Most don?t care. They just want to join you to do something or understand their benefit.
- Unchurched. No one likes to be an un-anything. Describing the community as unchurched makes them feel like they?re a targeted object. It?s as bad as non-christian. Stop naming them and start attracting them.
- I think that ________________. We know you thought it, you just wrote it. Wasted words.
- Denominational Names and Divisive Concepts. The community, who?s not attending church now, doesn?t need to know what separates us. Why bring it up in your promotion?
- Acronyms. If it requires an explanation, don?t use it. Stop using clever names for something that can be described easier. For example, ?WOW (Women of the Word) meets Wednesdays and shouldn?t be missed? vs ?Women meet Wednesdays for support and encouragement?
The rule of thumb in good communications? Always edit what you?re saying to reduce the words as much as possible. Do the heavy lifting for the world that doesn?t like to read a lot. Edit. And then edit more. Your community will enjoy your communications so much more!