I’ve posted before about bad church video announcements… I get on these kicks when I look around youtube and see stuff that I just can’t imagine playing in churches… ANY churches! Bottom line: Video is a GREAT way to inform your congregation about the events and other things going on at your church… when done with thought and intent. At the risk of offending the churches represented in the following not-so-good-examples, here are a few things to be mindful of:
1. Don’t shoot the video in your worship center; It’s where your people already are! If you’re going to have some one stand and simply READ the announcements from the pulpit on video, it’s no different than having that same person come up and do it live and you’re wasting valuable time shooting and editing…
2. Don’t let your high-schoolers do your main service announcements. If you have a group of teens that enjoy doing it, let them go crazy with their own age group. My intent for this rule is not to squash their zeal or energy, but to always be mindful of the first time visitor; Your announcements don’t have to look like the evening news, but they should look a little better than what most teens are capable of.
3. KISS Principle: Keep it simple, stupid! Stopping your service flow for announcements can be a huge momentum killer! If your church feels the need to spend any amount of time in a service for announcements, get to the main things and be done. Assess your announcements, choose the top 3-4 items and give them the time and attention necessary. You can’t give EVERY single item from the bulletin the prime-time spot. Keep the announcements short and to the point, and leave them wanting more. Give just enough information to make people want to seek out the rest on their own in the bulletin or on the church’s website. People don’t come to church to find out about your next bake sale, they come to encounter God… make sure that your announcements aren’t eating into that time.
IDEA – If you have 5+ minutes worth of content on a consistent basis, do your announcements in a 5 minute countdown prior to your service. This alleviates the need to give up any real time IN the service for announcements and, as an added bonus, encourages your people to get into their seats early, or at least ON TIME!
4. Green screens are for the Weather Channel! This is a technology that still just fascinates some people… and I just don’t get it. The thing about green screen is that doing it WELL is a skill that few have mastered so it usually comes off looking weird. If you’re committed to doing your announcements on video, you can shoot ANYWHERE! Are you doing a beach baptism? Shoot the video at the beach! Doing a service project with Habitat for Humanity? Shoot the video on at a job site! These visual reminders along with the critical dates/times will help people remember and want to get involved.
5. Skip the cheesy dialog! I don’t care of your church is in Wisconsin, no one needs that much cheese! Keep your points short and to the point. Communications can be entertaining, but when the “entertainment” isn’t entertaining, no one will remember your message.(embedded video: http://vimeo.com/7130655)
6. Sound Matters! Many of the most common cameras have an audio input these days. Buy (or borrow) a mic so that it doesn’t sound like you shot your announcements in the bathroom.
7. Don’t try to knock-off pop culture. Do you know why the Sonic commercials are good? Because they spend a ga-zillion dollars on them, they have great actors, and they only last 30 seconds! I’m sorry, but this is an area where you will just look silly. Be creative! Blaze your own trail! Make your own stuff!
8. Count the cost! Communicating well is the whole reason that any church does any kind of announcements at all! Video announcements are costing some one a great deal of time, whether they are a volunteer or on staff… it takes time to plan, it takes time to shoot, it takes time to edit… When you communicate poorly, you waste everyone’s time and likely doom the event you’re promoting.
If your video was used here, I mean you no harm… I just have a passion for improving communications in the church! I’d love for this post to be a forum; please feel free to leave a comment with your ideas about video announcements… let’s have a dialog about making them better and hopefully help video producers and churches communicate better. Is there another rule you would add to this list?