Communication: Getting to the Point

I've always been taught that in communication, getting the the point is always best. Different mediums do have slightly different requirements, but for the most part, effectively communicating to the reader or listener the point that you'd like to get across quickly is always best. Nobody likes a preacher or politician or salesman that rambles on and on and gets nowhere.

I've always wondered if certain industries have different standards. Like many people, I have joined a few organizations that represent causes that I believe in and feel strongly enough about to support, even if just by my membership dues. I've also ended up on the mailing lists of several ministries and organizations over the years for a variety of reasons. Some I believe bought my contact information, but others I deliberately signed up for because I was interested in information or a freebie.

I was going through some mail that had piled up Saturday, and I came across a new membership card for one organization I belong to, along with a 6 page letter. This organization is hardly known for GETTING TO THE POINT. I started reading the letter, and found it little more than continuous repetitions of <emotionally charged collection of adjectives and adverbs describing a certain political group> are going to take <issue under discussion> away from you. Send money! Seriously, that letter was 6 pages yet could be summarized by the following text:

  • Here is your new membership card. Please log onto the website to let us know you received it, or send back the attached card.
  • Please send money. We like money. Please consider sending multiple thousands of dollars. We like multiple thousands of dollars. We'll send you a pretty card that says you're an endowment level member, but we won't stop asking you for money.
  • If you don't, then we could lose the issue that you believe in and we theoretically represent to <emotionally charged collection of adjectives and adverbs describing a certain political group>, as they are highly financed.

I've wondered if people who go to work in organizations like that go to different schools than the rest of us. Is there a class that teaches you how to write repetitive letters like that? Or has that just proven to be the most effective way for those organizations to communicate, sort of like web pages set up to advertise products in the infomercial format, or infomercials themselves? Do my fellow members of that organization not value their time as I value mine? Are they actually happy to spend the time reading every last word in that letter? To be honest, when I keep getting letters like that I want to resign my membership to stop getting those letters.

Ministries are little better. I really hate the tactic they use of "In exchange for your gift of $25 or more, we'll give you a free book, which could be purchased on Amazon.com for $11.95." I can't quite wrap my mind around it. If you need money, as for it. Don't try to overprice your book to get the money. Some ministries seem to be constantly asking for money. I find it annoying. It's like the ministry exists to be ministered to rather than the other way around. When I first became a Christian, I was listening to one pastor a lot on the radio, since his show coincided with my morning commute. I learned and grew a lot during the time I listened to him, but eventually I got sick of hearing him every day talk about how his ministry is a million dollars behind and they really need listeners to give to keep them afloat. I didn't have any money to give at the time, so at first I felt guilty, but eventually I got annoyed and quit listening. I recently started downloading his podcasts, but the same plea for money is at the end of every single one. I might unsubscribe.

I had an interesting thought about ministries recently. Since most of them seem to be hurting financially, why does it seem like everybody needs an independent ministry? Why not find a few that meet similar needs and combine ministries and resources? I've always wondered if it was simply pride that causes people to need their own ministries.

I guess the point to this post is, if you run a ministry, political, or marketing organization and you expect to get my attention, then just get to the point when you contact me. Tell me who you are and what action you would like me to take, and accept the fact that I might say no. My resources and time are limited too, and I must guard them. Otherwise, just conduct business as usual but please leave me alone.

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