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5 Tips For Writing A President’s Message

Author: Heather Tamminga, CAE
01/04/2021

President’s Message Due.

These are often the three most dreaded words by every leader when it’s time to send the member newsletter — but it doesn’t have to be. As president, this is your opportunity to have a conversation with your membership.

Here are guidelines I share with leaders to help toss away expectations and anxiety to craft a member-moving message:

1. Determine the purpose and tone of the message

If you are informing members of association activities, use a conversational tone. If you are making a call to action, use a persuasive tone. Once purpose and tone are determined, the message writing process is easier.

2. Use an active voice

An active voice means the subject of a sentence performs an action.

  • Active voice example: The board approved a 10% reduction in registration fees.
  • Passive voice example: A 10% reduction in registration fees was approved by the board.

The active voice is clear, concise and strong. The board approved an action. The passive voice is wordier and dilutes the message.

3. Simplicity is your friend

Simple sentences are easier to understand. Use short sentences and paragraphs. If a message appears too long or complex, readers quickly skip the message altogether. Important updates and calls to action are missed.

Pro tip: use the shorted form of a word when applicable. For example, “use” is shorter and more effective than “utilize.”

4. Address one idea or issue at a time

I learned the IRAC writing format in a legal research course. IRAC stands for Issue, Rule of law, Application of law and Conclusion. I adapted the format for president’s messages.

  • I – Issue or idea to address (1 sentence)
  • R – Relevance to the membership/profession/association (1 – 2 sentences)
  • A – Application of the issue or idea. What problem is solved and how? (1 – 2 sentences)
  • C – Conclusion and explanation of how the issue or idea may impact members/profession/association. (2 sentences)

5. Dress-down the Headshots. Traditionally, formal headshots are included with the president’s message. Recent trends illustrate leaders are opting for less formal photos and showcasing their personality. This includes family photos, scenic vacation photos or photos showcasing hobbies. Don’t be afraid to do something different!

The presidents message elicits anxiety and fear of judgment by peers. Remember, the membership already knows you! They elected you to lead based on their collective experience of you as a person with purpose and passion. Your message is a conversation with members. Be consistent, personal and passionate; members will hear your message.

5 Tips For Writing A President’s Message