You may have heard that only about 7% of our messages are conveyed through words. Tone of voice and body language comprise the other 93%. And even though things are slowly starting to open up, it’s pretty clear we won’t be getting together in big groups anytime soon. We’ll have to rely on getting our message across from a distance.
How do we ensure we are sharing the right tone, when we can’t be together and most of our persuasive communication needs to be conveyed in writing or over video chat? And, with so many of us currently experiencing some level of crisis (both personal and professional), it’s especially important to be mindful of how we’re sharing our message.
Crafting our tone of voice certainly depends on a variety of factors, but I think it’s safe to say that many, if not most, nonprofits find themselves, on some level, directly addressing our current reality. Hospitals, food banks, housing authorities, research and so many more are on the front lines every day. Museums are providing us with education as many of us learn to home-school our children and social service agencies are faced with a steep rise in domestic violence and child abuse.
A trend in nonprofit messaging that I’m seeing more of these days is one that lands at the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum. It’s all doom and gloom (we’re going to shut our doors if you don’t give us money right now) OR it’s toxic positivity (we’re the best, we’ve got this, and nothing is going to slow us down). I think finding the middle ground between these two extremes is where storytelling can really shine. Using our stories to share our need – as well as our appreciation – can craft a powerful message. (We are so grateful to our community for stepping up, but we still need your help.) Using a compelling story as the vehicle for your message is not only how you can garner much needed support for your mission, it’s how you acknowledge your supporters and stakeholders in a way that makes them feel appreciated and heard. And that always sets the right tone.