How to communicate clearly in a crisis

Organizations create an unprecedented amount of content these days. When lives are at stake, every communication — to employees, customers, constituents, and its members — is critical. And every communication must connect.

How do you know when yours is ready?

5 Rules for Crisis Communication

Your communication will be ready for its audience when you can say the following five things about it: 

  1. It is easy to comprehend by anyone, whether English is their first language or they’re native speakers who read at a 5th- 8thgrade level. When clear communication is essential, a good rule of thumb is to write it in a fifth-grade reading level. 

Tip:  This means no lengthy sentences, multi-syllabic words, jargon, acronyms, or “insider” language. Go through your first draft with a sharp red pencil. 

  1. It says something useful.This may sound obvious but read through your communication and see how far down you have to go to see something new, helpful, or practical to your reader. People simply do not have time to read through fluff. It is better to be concise..

Tip:  State how you’re going to help and how to access that help.

  1. It says more about your audience than you. Your audience isn’t interested in you.. But that rarely stops us from commenting on about ourunique organization or peerless product in the opening paragraph. Nothing could be more tone deaf these days. 

Tip: Think about what would make your content a “must read” for your audience. Where are they now? What are they worried about or consumed by? Connect your new or useful information with that situation, and you’ve got a message that will likely hit its mark.

  1. It doesn't waste words. Each word should be thoughtfully selected and weighed for its necessity and impact on your overall message.

Tip: Check your word count on your first draft and see if you can cut it down to only the essentials.

  1. It has a clear “call to action." If your audience doesn’t need to do anything, you don’t need to write anything.

Tip: You should be laser-focused on the steps you want your audience to take once they're done absorbing what you have to say. Every word you write should drive them toward that action. 

Every reader is in an urgent state of mind. The most effective communication shares that urgency.

LanguageLine Can Help

In a crisis, it is imperative that you remember all of those in your community, including limited English speakers, the Deaf, and the Hard of Hearing. 

LanguageLine is committed to being a steadfast language-services partner during these difficult times. 

With 24-hour support, we can provide you with an interpreter in seconds, while also urgently delivering the written translations you require.

Please contact us so that we can learn more about the challenge you may be facing. You can reach us through our website or call 800-752-6096. 

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