Communication is a miracle. In even the simplest of communications, there are two drastically different personalities trying to share extremely abstract concepts clearly enough that there is understanding. Each of those personalities has different life experiences and values.
Then you add noise the mix…
Noise is anything happening between the giver and receiver that distracts from the clarity of the message. We live in a world filled with noise. Each bit of noise eats away at the message before it gets to the listener.
It’s truly a miracle that communication can happen at all.[quote]It’s truly a miracle that communication can happen at all.[/quote]
But it does. And it must. Communication is what we do in church. It’s our business. We communicate a vitally important message to anyone that will listen. How can we work to cut through the noise and make sure our message is received accurately? Let’s explore.
Know Exactly What You Want to Say
If a concept is foggy in your own mind, it will be a complete blackout in the mind of your listeners. You have to know exactly what you’re trying to say. You have to know it with extreme simplicity and be able to explain it just as simply.
I love what Albert Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”[quote]If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.[/quote]
If Albert Einstein desired to make his scientific knowledge simple enough for the lowest common denominator, how much more should we?
Know Your Audience Intimately
I think we have a skewed idea of communication in the church. We have our pastor on the stage ? front and center. While that’s necessary physically, I believe we should mentally picture the audience on stage and the pastor in the pews. Communication isn’t about the speaker. It’s all about the audience. They are the ones that must understand what we are presenting.
[quote]Communication is useless if the listener doesn’t understand.[/quote]?Communication is useless if the listener doesn’t understand. The listener is the focus of the communication.
We must remove the noise of our own ego from the communication model. It isn’t about us talking. It’s about them understanding.
Crystal Clear Creativity
Creativity has the special ability to break through noise and grab attention. But once you have that attention, what will you do with it? If your message doesn’t carry the same impact as your attention-getter, you’ll lose them to noise again.
That’s why it’s important that every creative communication supports and surrounds the message you want to communicate. Simply illustrated, a good joke to break the ice will be useless if it doesn’t support the message. But a humorous anecdote that illustrates the message does the trick. That’s the obvious truth we see from public speaking.
But the same truth applies to dances, musical pieces, videos, dramas, graphics, magic tricks, etc. If your creative content doesn’t clearly carry your message, scrap it. [quote]If your creative content doesn’t clearly carry your message, scrap it.[/quote] Find something that will speak your message for you.
A sign is not enough. A bulletin insert is not enough. A tweet is not enough. A single piece of communication is rarely enough to accurately break through the noise and get into someone’s head.
Think of the last time you heard an ad on the radio. You didn’t remember the phone number they told you to call ? until they repeated it for the fifth time. It takes time for complicated data to break through the noise of our distracted minds and become successfully received communication.
Discover what pieces of information are most important and hardest to grasp. Then repeat those bits with frequency.
Reduce Your Own Noise
While I tell you to repeat yourself, I must also mention you should limit what you say. These aren’t conflicting concepts. The more you remove from your communications, the more you’ll have room for the important stuff.
Too many of us are in love with our own voices. Our own graphic design. Our own keystrokes. Or even more common, we fear silence.
For instance: we fear creating a website with only three pages of content. “Surely an important church website has at least fifteen, nay, twenty pages!” But your visitor probably won’t make it to all twenty pages. And that important piece of information on page twenty was completely missed.
Reducing your own noise means you choose what not to say more carefully than you choose what to say.[quote]Reducing your own noise means you choose what?not?to say more carefully than you choose?what?to say.[/quote]
Imagine this: Jesus did only what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). That means He only said what God told Him to say. Imagine if you only said what God told you to say. I imagine I might say only a few paragraphs each day. Talk about reduced noise!
Finally, get feedback however possible. In a traditional, two-person dialog, if the receiver is confused he has the luxury to stop the giver and ask for clarification. We don’t easily get that working in the church. They either understand or don’t.
But I encourage you to get feedback. Grab a focus group and see if they understood the communication. Set up a text line so people can ask questions. Do whatever you can to establish a two-way communication to help you cut through the noise.
It’s truly a miracle that communication can happen at all.
But it does. And it must. Communication is what we do.