Why is communicating so hard?
Communicating well is a painstakingly time and labor intensive hard work.
I sent out an e-mail as a follow up to a seminar I helped lead recently for my church. One paragraph was misinterpreted two different ways. Neither were the way I meant to communicate. It caused enough of a problem that I had to make a phone call to apologize and send a clarifying e-mail and then ask the Pastor to make an official statement on the issue. Whoops.
I did a Doing Ministry Well interview with Bryan Switalski who is an amazing graphic designer. By talking with him I was reminded how important VISUALS are as a communication tool.
I had recently reformatted my computer and didn’t have any of my adobe programs on the computer. So I reinstalled lightroom 3 and TRIED to install photoshop elements 8 which no longer works on my computer because I upgraded to the latest OS. Yup… old school versions.
I tried downloading GIMP but it ran super slow on my computer. All I was wanting to do was overlay some text onto a photo so I found a website that listed some of the best apps and downloaded the only free one. It did the trick. It’s called phonto.
My friend Kesia had commented how she really liked one of my recent blog posts so I thought I’d create a graphic for it. My hopes is that more people will SHARE the blogs I’m writing if there is a visual and easily sharable way to do so.
I’ve had make instagram style graphics for my blog posts along with sign up for pintrest to help promote my blog on my to do list for a little bit now.
So my blog post was entitled:
I need this before I can do this.
I had put a photo up of a $100 bill, so i took that photo and overlaid the title on it, and renamed my URL jimjessbaker.com/need
I was quite impressed with how it looked and shared it with my social media network.
Later that night I realized… hmmm this could be misinterpreted. People might think this blog post is about us needing money since we raise support, but the blog post has nothing to do with that.
The next day someone sent me a private message saying they had a visceral reaction to my new graphic and that they hated it. Oh.
I thanked them for their feedback and asked them if they had read the blog post, they said they didn’t but they would. We discussed further that the graphic really wasn’t expressing what I wanted it to be. So I redesigned it, changed the title and the URL. Hopefully it now better communicates what I’m trying to say.
However, in the time I had the original graphic up the post jumped from my 10th most popular post to 5th. Crazy! I wonder if some of those views were me? The popular post widget was installed recently so it really isn’t a good overview of popular posts from the whole blog but anyway. I want to go back and find my favorite 10 or 20 posts and design some graphics for them and point people to them.
As I was trying to download various graphics programs to communicate, and had just put in multiple revisions on an e-mail update I realized how strange it is to be in a world of digital communication where you can spend HOURS creating something and people will look at it for about 15 seconds.
You can have the greatest content, but if it isn’t packaged well people won’t take the time to invest.
And one bad miscommunication could ruin your brand completely.
One unintentionally vague e-mail can cause a disruption.
Oh help me Jesus. This probably all goes back to the tower of babel doesn’t it? God help me be a good communicator!
Here’s an even newer version of the graphic I’ll be using for the excuses post. Interesting to see the evolution of the graphic process. A big thanks to Bryan Switalski who sat with me for a while at starbucks and helped me be a better visual communicator!
What have you learned about communicating well? Let us know in the comments.