5 Tips for Multi-Media Communication with Parents
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When parents and youth leaders work together, the impact on student growth is significant. But the parent-leader partnership, like any other, won’t work without communication. Effective communication is key for positive partnerships with parents. It builds understanding and trust. When we work in partnership with parents, we’ll all be able to work together to support the student’s well-being and development. That’s why in every interaction with parents, one of our goals should be to strengthen our partnership with them.
One way to do this is by communicating digitally. But emailing and texting parents is now such an everyday occurrence that it’s easy to forget to take an honest look at the effectiveness of our communication. Isn’t the hope to establish a deeper understanding between us and those we communicate with? With that in mind, here are 5 tips that may help you become more effective and efficient in your communication with parents.
- Be Strategic
Communication is vital for healthy relationships; thus, it is worth the time to do it right and well. Unplanned, sporadic, inconsistent communication is frustrating and stressful for both the receiver and sender alike. Developing a communication plan for parents/guardians begins with understanding where your audience will most benefit from receiving the communication. Be considerate of your audience and meet them where they are. Don’t force them into the mode of communication you prefer.
Here are a few strategic questions:
- Methods — how are we going to distribute communication to parents?
- Frequency — how often will we send out each type of communication?
- Content Structure — what should we include in the various types of communication?
- Editing process — who will approve the product before releasing the communication?
- Be Regular & On Time
Create a rhythm for your communication so your audience can anticipate and be on the lookout. Setting expectations and then meeting them helps build trust and confidence between you and your audience. Determine the frequency of your communication, and make sure to set realistic goals.
The key to communication frequency is discovering the line between ghosting and spamming. In other words, don’t neglect communication with parents, but avoid bombarding parents to the point that your words become white noise. Here are some examples: Post a daily parent encouragement, send a weekly family challenge bulk text, a monthly e-newsletter, or a quarterly upcoming dates postcard.
- Be Concise & Thorough
Parents consume immense amounts of information every day. Keep this in mind when you are drafting your communications. Avoid overwhelming parents with a never-ending newsletter. A massive message often exhausts the receiver, who then skims for details or abandons the text altogether. Think bite-size candy bar. A Snickers bite-size gives us all the details and information we need — the taste, texture, and satisfaction of a Snickers in an easy-to-consume package. All the information and details are included in a user-friendly communication.
However, don’t sacrifice the details for the sake of brevity. Make sure to answer the questions that demonstrate to parents how well prepared and considerate you are. When you balance conciseness with thoroughness, you will build trust with your audience and retain their attention for future communications.
- Be a Two-Way Communicator
Communication does not only mean “to inform” but also includes a response, a back-and-forth conversation. The purpose of communication should be to establish mutual interaction, dialogue, and exchange of information. A few ways to incorporate dialogue in your digital communication include an easy-to-use survey, a genuine invitation for feedback, and a safe space for parents to bring questions. Make sure to show gratitude and appreciation for your audience's feedback, time, and perspective.
- Be Ready to Celebrate
Share moments of celebration. Communicate positive experiences. Don’t only convey information. Use communication to share stories of life change and ministry milestones. An impactful story stirs up emotions within the reader that draws them in and stays with them long after. Highlighting wins and celebrating exciting moments tend to build a stronger connection between you and your audience.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- How can you use media to connect better with parents in your ministry?
- Which of these tips changed your mindset about communication the most? Why do you think that is?
- If you could add Tip #6, what would it be?
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