Live streaming is the primary avenue many churches are reaching their entire congregation these days. Whether it appealed to your church pre-pandemic or not, this technology has allowed parishioners to be a part of their church even from a distance. If you’re looking for ways to improve your live stream for your congregation to better engage, we have some ideas!
As many have learned, live streaming a service requires some changes to your traditional format. People may want to be a part of church, but drop off because engagement with a screen is low. Even taking on a handful of these tips can make a tremendous difference in time.
Improve Your Live Stream With Practice
Especially if you are just getting started, take the time to practise and test your equipment and environment.
- Do a few tests on your stream privately to identify any issues with your wifi or equipment.
- Look, listen, and take notes on your live streams to identify what you may need to fix.
- Try a few different placements for your camera. Whether you are using a smartphone or more advanced technology, try mixing up the placement until you find one that seems to capture the space in an engaging way. Check out our tips on camera placement to get started.
- Test different lighting and locations to determine what feels most authentic for your church.
- Use tools designed to make live streaming easy so you are not encumbered by technical challenges.
Create Avenues for Engagement
- Include a chat section in your stream wherever possible and have a dedicated team member or volunteer ready to greet attendees, answer questions, and share resources
- Be authentic to yourself and your congregation. Right now they want to hear from a trusted source, while you may look for ways to improve, don’t stray from who you are as leader
- Create online forms to collect visitor information so you can follow up and connect with them after the service or event.
- Engage and ask questions – just because your audience is at home doesn’t mean they can’t respond. Even in you are live streaming one-way you can use your chat or polls to gain responses and feedback.
- Start a few minutes early to allow people to log on and chat with one another. Just make sure to cut the first few minutes when you save the recording for your non-synchronous audience.
- Make use of graphics and visuals that take some of the pressure off the speaker while also giving your online viewers new things to look at.
Follow Best Practices for Live Streaming
- Before playing any music, check your licensing and be sure to include licenses you own in the description of your live stream so bots do not end your live stream.
- Keep your staging area free of unnecessary distractions
- Keep your live streams shorter. Video content is best in shorter segments. Consider separate or even pre-recorded worship and let the sermon stand on its own.
- If you are doing a hybrid church and live streaming with a live audience, consider how much of the off-screen content you can cut from the live version so your online audience isn’t left out of moments, leading to drop off
- Look for new ways to reach your online audience with more additional events. Going live on weekdays for even short segments can help build community without a lot of legwork.
- Check your stream on a consumer-level device to monitor real-world audio and video so you can identify any issues your audience may experience.
- If you start early, use “pre-service” slides with announcements or a countdown.
- Use lower-thirds for scripture references, lyrics, and even to introduce guest speakers.
- Identify a set time when the recorded event will be available to your congregation so they know when to expect it if they miss the live version.
Tips for Speakers
- Smile, perhaps even more than usual, and try to keep focused on a positive demeanour throughout the stream.
- Look straight into the camera and talk to your online audience, address them in their homes, and make them feel “seen.”
- Stand and move within a space that allows the camera to capture the whole moment, but also adds a feeling of activity to the event.
- Remind your audience who you are, where you are speaking from, and how they can connect, either via chat, phone, or digital.
Remember, even adopting only a few of these tips can help you increase you engagement. Take it easy, try new things, and always stay true to your authentic church personality and experience.