Making announcements? Whether it’s at your service, meeting, or event, there are things you should know about people if you want them to hear what you’re saying. This list may not make your job easier, but I guarantee it can help make you more effective.
Prepare your announcement by answering these questions: What is so special about this opportunity? Why should I spend my time on it? How is it going to make my life and me better?
People aren’t open to your change prescription.
Of course, we want to inspire people to be part of something bigger than themselves, to break unhealthy patterns, and to live a life of purpose. But, when we dictate “You need to step it up” or “It’s time to go deeper,” it communicates we have all the answers, and we think people aren’t OK where they’re starting. They already know they’re not as good as they want to be, and we just make it worse. Instead, open their minds and get them thinking. Try “This might be your next step,” or “Here is an opportunity for you to consider.”
People aren’t motivated by your need.
When people hear “We really need small group leaders” or “We really need your help,” they perceive desperation and self-centeredness. And, since they’ve got needs of their own, your ask feels like one more to add to the pile. Your message should be about the great things that change life for the guest, not about what your church or organization needs. When you communicate, “Here’s a cool opportunity not everyone knows about” or “You might want to be part of this one-of-a-kind experience,” it makes it about them, not us, and it motivates people to move.
People don’t know who you are.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been around, introduce yourself, every time. When you just get up and start talking, it communicates two things to the guest: exclusivity (everyone’s already in the club except for you), and you’re pretentious (assuming everyone already knows who you are). Even if it is just a couple of sentences, always take the time to introduce who you are and why you’re there.
People multi-task and can’t remember squat.
If you’re lucky enough to have a room full of people with full attention spans who are actually hearing you, there is no guarantee they will remember what you said when they walk out of the room and back into their lives. Visually support your verbal announcement to grab and hold attention, clarify information, and raise the interest level of your audience. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. A printed program, PowerPoint slide, table tent, or sign all work fine.
People are turned off by lack of preparation.
Prepare your announcement so your audience “catches it” within 30 seconds. If it’s important enough to announce, then it’s important enough to prepare for. Try to cast a vision by answering these questions: What is so special about this opportunity? Why should I spend my time on it? How is it going to make my life and me better? Remember, you’ve got no more than 30 seconds.
People relate when you talk about them or people like them.
Tailor your announcement to your audience. Whenever possible, customize a broad message to a specific audience to make a bigger impact. Even if the announcement doesn’t change, it makes all the difference when you find a way to highlight a unique attribute for your specific audience. For example, if you’re talking about volunteer opportunities at the food pantry to a group of moms, tell them to bring the kids. If you’re talking about the same volunteer opportunity to a group of students, tell them about the donuts that will be there. Help them see how they can specifically use the information you’re sharing.
People feel left out and frustrated when you use insider language.
Don’t assume everyone is in the know; most people aren’t. Avoid the use of acronyms or nicknames. Be specific and clear, not clever. Once people are on the inside, feel free to use insider language. But it’s never cool to use it in announcements for large groups, connection events, first-serve opportunities, etc. When you do, you can bet that you are alienating guests.
This article is adapted from Kem’s book, Less Clutter, Less Noise: Beyond Bulletins, Brochures, and Bake Sales, Thirty:One Press, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Thirty:One Press and WiredChurches.com, used by permission.