A few years ago, my colleague Jane Shannon and I wrote a book about HR communication.
While we were in the process of writing the book, we had many conversations about making HR communication simple and accessible. Jane often reminded me not to forget about that important communication attribute, being concrete."Too often, HR people and communicators deal in abstractions, and employees have no idea what they mean," Jane said. "The more employees can picture what you’re talking about, the better.”
As an example, Jane shared with me a message she wrote for her community organization in Ancramdale, N.Y. The objective was to encourage residents to participate in an upcoming weekend event, Community Days.
We didn’t use this example in our book, but I’d like to share it with you now, because it exemplifies writing that is specific, tangible and concrete. This is especially important when you're asking employees to change—to take action. (And, by the way, it was extremely effective: More people volunteered than had ever done so before).
Dear Neighbors and Friends,
Here are five ways you can help make Ancram Community Days a huge success this weekend:
1. Help set up at 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 13.
Help get tables and chairs ready for the weekend—meet at Town Hall.
2. Come help at the "Dive In" Movie sponsored by the Youth Commission at 5 p.m.
Friday at Blass Park Pool.No sharks. We promise.
3. Bake something wonderful and deliver it to Matthew Boice after 8 a.m. Saturday, August 15.
Matt is working to get enough money to create a Haunted House at the Fire House this Halloween. If you think about all that Matt's parents David and Jennifer do for this community, I bet you'll find the time to do a little baking to help Matt achieve his goal. (He's the one selling milkshakes at a vendor table.)
4. Volunteer for just one hour or just a few hours on Saturday, August 15, from 9 to 3 p.m. at Town Hall.
There's plenty to do—from collecting 50/50 raffle tickets—to collecting money for the Bounce House—to collecting money from the Dunking Booth for Public Officials—to enjoying the Tractor Pull while you're not helping out—to helping direct people to park their cars—or sitting in for a vendor while he or she takes a short break. Come meet your neighbors and friends and help make this community celebration a success.
5. Clean up at 9 a.m. Sunday, August 16 at Town Hall.
This special duty should receive special rewards—how about some free ice cream after the 1 p.m. all-faith service and potluck picnic? You can even volunteer to help serve the ice cream, too.
Please come participate in Ancram Community Days in whatever way works for you. Thanks.