The Problem With Over Communicating


I used to believe one could not over communicate in a volunteer organization, specially church members, volunteers, or leadership, but I have changed my mind on that.


Early in my career, communicating with a large group of constituents meant sending them letters, newsletter or post cards in the mail and for church members that would include a blurb in the bulletin and an announcement from the pulpit. The rule of thumb was that you needed to communicate seven times the same message before the majority of people would even become aware of it.

Today we have more channels: email, text messages, social media to ad to the mix. But like anything else in life, sometimes more is not better but more is just, more noise, more junk mail, more interruptions. And instead of getting our message through, we become a nuisance to those we want to engage.

So how should we communicate the needs and opportunities of a growing and multifaceted organization without alienating our volunteer base? It’s a simple strategy, but hard to implement: be strategic and brief!

It’s easier said than done. I get that. But before your next letter or email blast goes out, consider this:

Segment your database. Not everyone needs to know everything that is going on in your organization. Make sure the information you are sending me is something I want and need to know. If I’m single professional,  I don’t need to know about the pre-school cookie drive or the senior adults trip to the botanical gardens.

Say no to verbosity. In the days of print-only communication, words were costly; after all they occupy physical space on paper. In the digital world we are no longer limited by our “page count.” Unfortunately that has given some license to say more than they should. Say the minimum possible to get people all they need to know but no more.

Limit communication. More than one or maybe two touch points a week from any organization is too much. I love my church but if I get more than 2 emails from the staff a week, I’ll stop opening them, specially if there’s too much information and it’s not relevant to me.

Have you been over-communicated? How do you handle it?

  • I’ve heard someone once say “The more you announce, the less they will hear” Still rings true for me today. 

    We have to get smarter and more strategic about what we tell them, rather than get into information obesity.

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