Church Communication Commandment No. 7: Thy Shall Eradicate Information Obesity
Guest Post by Kem Meyer
Information overload occurs when we receive more information than our brain can process. Even if it’s good information, too much of a good thing turns bad. I read an article on ThinkSimpleNow.com about the cost of overfeeding the information appetite. It revealed the consequence of information overload from a very realistic, human perspective. The more we consume the less we have—and it affects us all.
· Increased demands and decreased productivity. With the influx of too much data, our precious, finite attention and time is robbed when our focus is pulled away from our original objective. Instead, we inadvertently focus on unimportant or irrelevant information. Remember getting tricked by the useless information in elementary math story problems? Yeah, it’s like that. We don’t get to the things we want or enjoy, because we’re too busy trying to navigate through information overload.
· Increased mental clutter and decreased internal clarity. The non-stop interruptions and constant media bombardment we consume dilutes (and can completely disable) our ability to reflect and meditate. Without the space to organize our own thoughts, we are robbed of the value of connecting with ourselves and others to test assumptions and make meaning in our life. It’s like someone else disrupts that space and overloads our mind with constant noise that forces us into an unexamined life of existence.
· Increased anxiety and decreased triumphs. A constant stream of unsolicited information envelopes us and we feel added pressure to get more done than we have time to finish. Every piece of information carries with it energy which demands our time. Even if we consciously ignore it, a part of us records it within our subconscious. The irony here is that more information can actually make life harder because of the subliminal demand we feel attached to it.
Life is overwhelming enough as it is. Your church shouldn’t be piling more on top of an already mounting problem, especially when people are looking for answers that will make a difference. If you want to be a credible source for those answers, look for ways to reduce information overload and help people start making sense of the information available.
1. Stick to the facts. Don’t over-sell, over-explain or over-control. Just provide the information someone needs to self-sort and self-decide. People don’t need a page on the philosophy of each ministry, activity or event. They do need to know who it’s for, what it is, when it happens and how to get there or sign up.
2. Stick to the point. Start with the end in mind before you’re about to do something. If you know the purpose behind your letter, brochure, meeting, or whatever … it makes it easier for you to stay on track and focused. Otherwise, it’s hard to recognize your own excess. Do you want people to show up, respond or buy? What are you asking them to do? If you can’t answer that question easily, neither will they.
3. Consider the crowd. Does your announcment (printed or verbal) apply to everyone or just a handful of people? If it’s not affecting the masses, it’s just going to land like dead weight. Don’t punish the crowd to keep a few people happy (even if they are the most vocal). Find a way to talk about only the 20% that affects 80% of your audience.
4. Don’t intrude. Unless they’ve asked for it, people welcome your mass emails as much as a salesman ringing the doorbell during family dinner. Respect personal space and put information in a place easy for people to find when they want it and need it.
5. Deflate your self–importance. Are you more attached to what you have to say than you are who you are talking to? People are more inclined to read and respond when something is delivered from their point of view…not yours. Work hard to think like your audience to find ways to connect.
Life is overwhelming and people are drowning in the information overload from all directions. Can we get over ourselves to recognize more isn’t better, it’s just more? If we’re simply scrambling to yell louder than everyone else, people are going to do what they need to survive the onslaught. They will shut down. Tune out. Stop listening. Move on.
Look at your announcements, emails, mailings, brochures, web site and identify where you need to turn down your volume. It’s the right thing to do.
Read the other commandments
Kem Meyer is the Communications Director at Granger Community Church in the U.S.A. This communication commandment is an excerpt from her book from Less Clutter. Less Noise. Beyond bulletins, brochures and bake sales. Read more no-nonsense riffs about how to remove communication and technology barriers that shut people down at KemMeyer.com.