Commandment No 4: Thy Shall Target And Time Thy Communication
In sales, there's a well-known maxim that says 'the customer is always right'. As Christian communicators, we know that Jesus is the only one who's always right, but we would be foolish to dismiss the people we are communicating with. In fact, considering the people you are communicating with is as essential to communication as the message itself. We forget about our audience at our peril (and to the detriment of our message). Two key considerations for our communication are targeting and timing. These affect the 'how' and the 'when' of our communication.
Once you have established the message you would like to communicate, you need to work how you are going to communicate it to the people it needs to be communicated to. A channel is the pathway by which a message will be communicated, and there's lots of potential channels for communication – face-to-face, video, audio recording, PowerPoint, email, print, web, social media (Facebook and Twitter), SMS, phone. The channels you choose should be selected based on your audience and their capabilities. For example, you might be a Twitter nut. You might tweet 20 times a day. However, is anyone at your church on Twitter? Nevermind whether you think they should be – are they? This is a caution to the tech-fanatic (like me!), but it's also a challenge to the luddites – is your communication limited to the channels you are comfortable with and therefore limiting its scope and impact? For example, the fact that Australians spend 29% of their online time on Facebook, must be taken into consideration. Regardless of our tech/non-tech biases, both camps need to consider which channels will be most effective for communicating with our audience.
When a message is communicated will affect how it is received. Take a moment and think about yourself – when do you struggle to listen and concentrate? We don't listen well when we're tired. We don't listen well when we're in a hurry. We don't listen well when we're stopping the kids from killing each other (or themselves!). Similarly, when you need to communicate a message, take a moment to consider the timing – if the message is communicated at this time, how will it be received by my audience? For example, if you had a printed newsletter that you wanted to hand-out to people at church, when would be the best time to distribute it – before the service (as people are walking in), or after the service (as people are walking out)? Why? Or take email as another example – when is the best time to send an email newsletter (e.g. your church's weekly e-news?). Did you know that the day and time of day that your email is sent, affects the likelihood of your email being read? Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to send email (and get it read), and the reasons are quite logical. Mondays people are trying to clear out their inbox to get organised for the week ahead, Fridays people are packing up and not eager to start anything new. Weekends people aren't at work (and this is where most people check their email). Simple timing considerations make a big difference.
Make the most of your message, and communicate it well by targeting and your timing. This isn't difficult, but it will increase the likelihood of your message being heard.
Read the other commandments
Steve Kryger is passionate about communicating. He has spent years working in online marketing and is the Media and Communications Pastor at Church by the Bridge, Kirribilli. You can read more of Steve’s advice at Communicate Jesus . You can also follow Steve on Twitter.