We all know the feeling.
That video you spent all week filming, editing—essentially working around the clock to get just right—has its Sunday debut. It’s the first official screening in front of your church. It’s showtime.
Your palms are clammy and you’re on edge from sleep lost over that one awkward transition at 2:07 that you hope nobody will notice. All your well-meaning friends keep saying, “Relax bruh, it’s just an announcements video.”
Yeah, just an announcements video. What do they know? They don’t get it!
Then the lights go down. The video rolls. And… and… well, nobody’s watching. They’re looking at their phones, their neighbors, the floor, their hands, anything but the screen showing the video that you worked all week putting together.
How can we avoid this? How can you make sure that all of your hard work results in something that your church will find informative and entertaining?
How to make church video announcements that aren’t boring
Church video announcements don’t have to be boring. You can spread the word about the women’s picnic, the youth mission trip, and the new knitting small group in under three minutes. But can you also make it fun? Of course you can!
Just follow these five pro tips for creating engaging church video announcements.
1. Choose your host wisely
Steve Harvey has “it.” We’ll give him a pass on that whole Miss Universe gaffe.
It’s essential to make sure your video has great energy. Just like a person presenting on stage, he or she must be confident, speak clearly, and, well, not be boring. If you plan to make videos regularly, it’s a plus if they’re available every week.
So look around! Don’t just look at your staff either. Small group leaders, mature students in your youth ministry, heck, even the maintenance guy might have a hidden talent in front of the camera!
If he or she is constantly making terrible puns, pranking people, or already vlogging in some way, they might be a perfect fit.
2. Get to the point!
Don’t be guilty of wasting everyone’s time.
A study published by Microsoft in 2015 found that the average human’s attention span has fallen from a thoughtful 12 seconds in 2000 (when mobile tech was starting to bloom) down to 8 seconds by 2013.
If that’s not striking enough, consider that goldfish are found to have an attention span of nine seconds. Yeah. Goldfish have a longer attention span than the average human does. For real.
What does this mean for church video announcements? We’ve got keep it simple and to the point.
How? Follow these guidelines:
- Keep your entire video under three minutes.
- Don’t waste everyone’s time with a video intro bumper/graphic/logo that takes longer than six seconds.
- No more than five announcements in a video.
- If it doesn’t apply to over 50% of your congregation, don’t announce it on video.
- Storytelling is good, but don’t talk forever about a single event.
- Smile and be exciting. Have your host speak quickly but clearly.
Brady Shearer of Pro Church Tools coaches people to skip over the unimportant details, like time, location, where to park, even sometimes the date for an event. Especially if it’s three months out. Just give your viewers one next step, such as where to sign up, or where to get more info. The rest of that information is already out there, so it doesn’t need to also take up precious time in your video.
3. Know your audience, and observe them
It’s OK to observe, just try not to be so creepy about it…
Regularly creating videos for the same people can be tiring. But it’s also a beautiful opportunity to study human behavior and what kind of reactions you can get by adjusting your variables. Every congregation is different, and one recipe may not work for everybody.
When I make a video for my church back home, I do everything I can to be in the room while the video is playing. Just to observe which jokes worked, which jokes clearly didn’t work, and if they get visibly distracted during certain slow parts.
It may sound creepy, but it’s a great way to quickly improve your craft for next time. And don’t let yourself be offended, just take it as an opportunity to learn.
The biggest takeaway from this tip is that it’s OK to experiment. Don’t let fear of failure keep you from doing something truly innovative.
4. Be interesting, not gimmicky
Acting wacky for the sake of acting wacky is a dangerous game…
Sometimes a good way to learn how to do something is to first look at what not to do. One of my favorite time killers is to watch videos that have made it onto the Bad Church Announcements blog. That’s right folks, somebody out there finds the most cringe-worthy announcement videos on the web and shares them as examples of exactly what not to do.
What do all these cheesy videos have in common? They try to kill time. They try to fill the video with anything and everything they can think of in nine minutes of torture. Unless you have a dang good reason to have costumes and a drama script, avoid it at all costs.
5. Don’t obsess over tech
That can’t be healthy…
There is certainly a place for technology in managing a church’s operations.
But don’t be discouraged just because you don’t have the latest and greatest equipment to make your video happen. There are apps such as FilmIC Pro, Camera+, and Camera MX to up your mobile video game.
Keep your lighting simple (natural, soft, diffused window light is almost always better than all the cheap lighting kits online) and film in a recognizable location like your church lobby if you can.
One great piece of advice I’ve received is that audio quality is even more important than your video quality. People will easily disengage if they can’t hear the host clearly.
If you don’t have access to a professional microphone, here’s a sneaky tip from filmmaker Caleb Wojcik on how to use your mobile phone to capture solid audio!
Also, unless you have a really good reason to, never use a green screen for your videos. People can spot a cheesy green screen shot from a mile away. Spend your resources and time learning how to light somebody in a flattering way, and most importantly, get that audio sounding good!
Time to create engaging church video announcements!
So get out there! Find your announcer, narrow down your list, write a solid script, and film some awesome church video announcements for your church that are worth staying awake for! You never know, maybe the video that you stayed up all night working on will result in a few new faces at next week’s knitting group.