Having sat through this year’s quota of Christmas programs, I’ll weigh in on the communication principles of such events.For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the people in attendance are there for the same reasons as the people putting on the program. I know this is not reality, but it makes it easier to talk about communication and not have to delve into elements of religion.My personal experience in recent years says the average program is WAY too long. I speak from the perspective of having a toddler on my lap for the entire time, since the nursery workers typically get the night off (and deservedly so) . The attention span of a toddler is… no better than that of an adult. Therefore, the program should be varied and not last beyond the message. And regardless of the message of Christmas (or whatever holiday you ascribe to — that’s not the purpose of this forum, though I’ll be happy to discuss such any time) it can (and should) be culled to 10 minutes. If not, you’ve got the wrong message.It would seem that the program producers fall trap to the #1 Rule problem and produce programs they’d like. It becomes a time to showcase all the talent and variety a church can produce. Problem is, that’s not the audience’s goal. They’ve taken time from a VERY busy schedule to assemble people from multiple generations, persumably to gather in one place to focus on one message. And in return they typically get a variety show in cramped quarters. I heard the 5 o’clock service described last night as the “Cattle are lowing” service, with all the baby noise. But if it were socially acceptable, my bet is the adults would do it, too. Remind me, move me, change my focus, and challenge me. And please, let me (and my family) go. I’ll be back next Sunday, I promise. I don’t need to sing every hymn in the book that falls under the title of Christmas, and every schoolkid who can hold an instrument doesn’t need to play. One (short) family testimony is aplenty, and we can stop the pyrotechnics at one element (candlelight is nice, but let’s stop there).No different for programs of professional organizations — I’ve blogged on the “I’d like to thank…” syndrome before. Remember those poor folks who fill the seats (and pay the bills), regardless of the forum. Focus on them, and you’ll not go wrong.Now… May the Giver of joy at Christmas be yours today… and every day.

Short and sweet is good. Tailor the program to the needs of the audience. Always.

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