A general guideline to use when crafting your messages is Dr. Chandler’s 3-3-30 recommendation, outlined in Emergency Notification.
• No more than 3 message points
• Deliver 3 short sentences
• Keep the key content in the first 30 words
These guidelines may be hard to hit exactly but realize the first 30 seconds is your best chance to get your audience’s attention.
According to his research in Emergency Environmental Stress Induced Diminished Cognitive Capacities, Dr. Chandler notes that the average person’s reading comprehension in a crisis drops about 4 grade levels. Dr. Chandler recommends writing to a 6th grade level during a serious notification incident. The ability of your audience to understand your message and not get confused reinforces the need for simplicity. A quick way to check you messages grade level is with Microsoft Word 2010. Enter your text in Word and do the
• Click the File tab
• Click Options
• Click Proofing
• Under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word
• Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.
• Select Show readability statistics to see the readability statistics
• Look at the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level to see if your message is at the sixthgrade level