I came across Kem Meyer a few years ago when I spent the day in my office listening to The Nines Webinar Conference. I was so intrigued and delighted by her approach and expertise that I made her book mandatory reading for my Communications Team (a team that did not exist until I read her book).
Less Clutter. Less Noise: Beyond Bulletins, Brochures and Bake Sales had a tremendous impact on how we get our message across to our congregation and community. As messages became more plentiful and diverse, it became a challenge to not get lost in our own flurry.
Kem’s opening sentences spelled out the dilemma that I felt we were grappling with:
Life is hard and people are bombarded, used, abused and skeptical. They live day-to-day in a stressed-out, over-committed, over-extended, survival mode—whether they go to church or not. They simply don’t have the margin for more, but they are looking for answers that will make a real difference in their lives. The church should make it easy to find those answers. Most of the time, unfortunately, that is not what happens. Too often churches just add to the confusion.
Guilty as charged.
After spotlighting the communications quagmire that many of us find ourselves in, Kem offered us: “Air. A fresh perspective. An encouraging nudge. A few (she gave us more than a few) ‘aha’ moments.” She delivered. I’ll spotlight a “nudge” that was particularly helpful to us.
One of five myths that Kem exposes in answer to the question, “Are people letting you in or shutting you out?” is the myth that “People care about what you say.”
Although we benefitted from examining all of the myths, tackling this one really drove us forward in our communications effectiveness by helping us understand that people didn’t care as much about what we were saying as we did. I totally agreed with her premise, “There is simply too much out there and not enough time to take it all in.” I also knew deep down that she was right in her assertion, “They, however, will take time to read or hear something that reinforces an opinion they already have or speaks to a real need in their life.”
We took her challenge to learn what our people were most interested in so we could get in on the conversation. A great example is how we’ve revamped the way that we get the word out each week about the happenings of our church. We brought together a diverse group of people and asked them, “How do you like to receive information? What makes an issue important to you? How can we capture your attention in a respectful way?” and many more questions.
Because of Kem’s admonition and the information we received, implemented, and continue to experiment with, we have engaged our congregation to a much greater degree than ever before.
We responded to their need of easy electronic access for information with our Enews (basically an electronic bulletin that goes out to more than 6,000 people). It has great “opens” and “click-through” electronic responses, and we receive complaints when we are late with an issue.
We’ve received far more responses to our completely redone video announcement format. We can see that we have captured their attention during the “less than four minutes” at the beginning of our service.
There are too many success stories to share here, so if you want to know more about the impact of this book, I suggest two things: Email me at KevinMiller@FoothillsChurch.org or simply do what I did—buy several copies of Less Clutter. Less Noise and start the journey of communication reformation.