For many regions across the country, April signals the start of the traditional tornado season. Just this past weekend, a tornado swept through Wichita, Kan., causing significant damage but luckily little injury. Because tornado systems often form quickly and without warning, they can serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness and having a solid communications plan in place for your community.

Preparation and response plans are vital during urgent situations. But as more people have access to mobile devices, a communication plan for sharing updates and information has become increasingly complex. Many communities rely on Blackboard Connect to help get the word out during severe weather events, we have compiled a quick list of 5 helpful tips for communicating successfully before, during and after the storm.

  1. Speak with a strong, authoritative voice. A wavering, hesitant tone will undermine the intent of your message.
  2. Keep your message short. 30-45 seconds is just right. A minute is probably too long.
  3. Every second counts. Pre-record a tornado message using Blackboard Connect’s message tem­plates so that you can get word out in a click or two.
  4. Remember in a crisis situation, that your audience will have a lower-than usual ability to comprehend your message. You should draft tornado messages accordingly. Messages should read at a six-grade level. Measure the readability of your messages using built-in tools in Microsoft Word.
  5. Where possible, use the same person to record each message related to an event. Continuity breeds assurance in your community. You’ll build a personal brand as the “storm guy” or “tornado lady” – which will serve you well in future events.
  6. Consider adding Blackboard Connect’s automated weather alerts, which send messages to your community when the National Weather Service declares a severe weather emergency. Automated warnings – delivered using email, SMS and text-to-speech voice messages – shaving seconds or minutes from your response time..

Download our free Tornado Playbook to get more tips and best practices for communicating to your community during a tornado. Our series of Playbooks have been designed to help local and state governments create communication plans and craft messages during critical situations. To learn more about how Blackboard Connect can help enhance your communication strategy, visit our website.

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