Standing in tension with my last “newsletters” post, where I discussed speaking your audience’s language while creating newsletters, is the need to be yourself.
My favorite newsletters to read as a kid weren’t the pretty, glossy ones, but a black and white with cut-and-pasted photos newsletter from a relative living in Mongolia. It’s wasn’t professional or polished, but it was him. Honest and personal, he drew me into his world.
A friend and long-time non-profit worker told me today that “the biggest threat in ministry is the threat of not being yourself.” While this can be true in many areas of life where many people have many different (and often unrealistic) expectations of you, it is also true of your communication.
When you’re communicating with family, friends and partners, the most important thing you’re communicating is you.
Personally ;-), when I sit down to write a newsletter, I often feel the pressure to err on the side of professional, rather than personal. After all, I’m writing to partners who pay our bills, surely they’ll want to know that we’re busy doing good things, making good “return” on their investment! And while it’s true that I must be accountable, I often find that people care more about how my wife and I are really doing as opposed to a hearing a bunch of stats about our good work.
Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, talks about the growing importance of bringing humanity to your work. If you’re part of a ministry or non-profit, much of your work is probably human and personal by nature. Don’t lose that! We don’t need investing in people, changing lives and caring for people’s needs to start sounding like a job or a task, it must be personal! People will be drawn to you as you be yourself.
Find your voice.
Technology is a beautiful thing, but it must always serve your message, not the other way around. With all the technology available, it’s easy to get caught up in making fancy videos or HTML newsletters, but if you’re best at writing plain text emails, then for goodness sake, bless your readers with an amazing plain text email! For example, one of my friends is playing with creating an audio podcast to communicate with friends, because his most comfortable mode of communication is verbal.
That said, technology is constantly becoming more user-friendly and within reach for most people. For example, Mail Chimp, with it’s fresh and simple approach to HTML newsletters, makes sending cool-looking newsletters easier than ever. Check them out!
Of course, when considering method of communication, you must always consider your audience’s language. Considering your audience’s language and your own often presents some tension, but that’s a good thing as we consider honoring our audience and communicating effectively.
Hope this helps. Please comment on newsletters you enjoy and ways you try to be yourself in your communication.