Communication is a vital part of life, especially for those in leadership of an organization and its vision. Every leader struggles with communicating effectively, whether it be an email, a seminar, or a sermon or speech.
While there are many tools that we could explore, lets address the church newsletter.
Done well, a newsletter is a great way to keep people informed and connected. Done poorly, a newsletter is inbox clutter. In the spirit of the suggestions that follow, here are just a few key things to keep in mind when crafting a newsletter.
4 Ways To Make A Newsletter Count
1. Be brief.
We’ve all done it before: opened an email or newsletter, saw how long it was, and then shelved it for another time (or even deleted it altogether). We live in a world where information is primarily consumed in bite-sized portions, especially among younger people.
Ask yourself whether any information can wait for another time or, perhaps, be communicated through a different medium. To put it simply: It does not matter how much work and thought you put into your newsletter if nobody wants to read it. If recipients can come to expect a brief and to-the-point newsletter from your church, there’s a high probability they will actually read it. If it can’t be read in 3-4 minutes, it’s probably too long.
2. Highlight one major item.
This goes hand-in-hand with the matter of newsletter length. Though it may seem counterintuitive to put content after length, again, the richness of your content does not matter one bit if people do not take the time to read it.
Let’s be honest about something: when it comes to newsletter content, some of the info isn’t as important as we think it is. Focus on the most essential information that you want communicated and “trim the fat” elsewhere. In our church’s newsletter, we highlight one major item in the opening, and then have small, brief sub-sections. If there’s more info, we direct people to a website or contact person. Oh, and don’t forget to place your mission and/or vision statement somewhere!
3. Let your eyes breathe.
The trend in design is simplicity. Less is more. Do not try to cram a ton of text, images, colors, etc. into your newsletter, leaving very little white space. It will only make people’s eyes tired and, as a result, they won’t read.
Pick 1-2 different fonts and 1-2 different font colors. Don’t use more unless you have at least a basic eye for making them blend well together. (Speaking of fonts, it’s time for Microsoft’s WordArt feature to die for good in our communication pieces. No more, my friends.) If your communication piece is text-based, graphics are for accenting. Limit the images, unless they serve a real purpose, e.g. marking-off different sections of the newsletter. Again, remember that less is more.
4. Develop a recognizable voice.
It’s time for the obligatory buzzword. Whether it be called “warmth” or “sincerity” or “authenticity,” it all boils down to one thing: Is the tone of your newsletter consistent with the culture of the church or organization? In saying this, I’m not favoring any one type of organizational culture over another. What I mean is that, when people read your newsletter, are they hearing your “voice” or someone else’s? Is this voice that readers are hearing consistent? Whether it be in tone, content, or priorities, are readers observing organizational alignment?
Of course, there are other things we could address, but this is plenty to keep us busy. The big idea is that, if we are willing to go through the pains of communicating something, then it must be important. Therefore, let’s not unintentionally get in our own way. Keep it simple, friends.