Words: The Least Effective Communicator?
The following is a guest post by Lori L. Jacobwith who has been a fundraising coach for over 20 years.
We read them and hear them all day long. On the radio, TV, websites, Tweets via Twitter, in newspapers, at meetings, in the hallway, on the elevator, from our children, spouse, friends, staff, co-workers. It’s endless. Words are used to convey what we are thinking and what our organization needs or wants.
Words are utterances that stand for feelings, thoughts and experiences.
The reality is words can be one of the least effective ways to communicate because it’s so easy to misinterpret them, ignore them or if not chosen carefully, cause us to simply not care.
When you want people to get sense of what you are conveying, use as many forms of communication as possible: music, silence, photos, a drawing from a child; anything that will cause the other person to feel something.
I’ve heard Lenore, one of my clients in Minneapolis, talk about her organization many times and how the need for more shelter space for homeless families is growing. Then just last week she shared with me an audio tape of the sounds of phone calls that her organization received on their voice mail. Lenore prefaced the audio by sharing the fact that they now receive an average of 300 phone calls a month which is an increase of 250 a month in the last year.
Then I heard the calls. The sounds of babies crying in the background. Fathers or mothers sounding embarrassed and pausing in fear or fatigue during the message. The silences and the noises combined with the words caused me to feel uncomfortable and even guilty that I was leaving to go home to my own warm, safe house with lots of space in it.
I have carried around that feeling with me for days and ever since I’ve been working to send help to that organization. The words alone didn’t cause me to carry that uncomfortable feeling around. It was the sounds, and the urgency of the voices and the silences that did.
Feeling is one of the ultimate tools of knowing. By causing your donors and volunteers to feel something, they WILL take action. Just be sure you have been clear about what action you want them to take. Is it to make a contribution? Then ask for one, with a specific amount that will make a difference. Do you want them to volunteer? Tell them where to sign up and give them a specific task to volunteer for.
Get people into action with short, clear, bold communication that inspires and causes them to feel your work.
“Feeling is the language of the soul.” – Neale Donald Walsch
With more than 20 years of public speaking, professional fundraising, coaching and training experience, Lori L. Jacobwith helps people identify, understand and overcome their challenges around fulfilling their fundraising goals. Lori has helped hundreds of organizations collectively raise more than $80 million from individuals…and counting.
Lori recently launched an annual membership at LoriJacobwith.com that provides development professionals with access to Lori’s coaching and training through web-based applications. In spring 2009 Lori’s tips booklet “Nine Tips for Successful Individual Donor Campaigns” will be published.
You can also follow Lori on Twitter.
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