There is a big difference between experiencing a sermon live, and in person, and viewing it from the remote space of your home. An engaging sermon that people can learn from, is interested in, and follows along is ideal. But sometimes it’s not just the message, it’s the delivery and feeling of connection. It’s the head nods and the eye contact that helps drive energy through your message. But, when live streaming sermons, there is an additional onus on you to make that connection across a virtual path. So it might time to think outside the traditional box.
Create virtual engagement opportunities
With the tools available to you via YouTube and Facebook chat and Faith Online’s two-way meeting tool, you have ample opportunities to encourage your viewers at home to interact. Whether you use comments or polls, or even question and answer, you can bridge the digital gap with an emphasis on conversation.
Optimise your camera placement for eye contact
When someone is speaking, you want to see their face. So it’s essential that you place your camera in a space that allows you to look at it and make virtual eye contact. In truth, live streaming a sermon separate from your congregation may be easier than trying to do it the hybrid way. But if you have the means to acquire a low-profile camera, like the Mevo, you can interact with your remote audience and not worry about distracting or blocking your in-person attendees.
Interact with the camera as your audience
There are benefits to both live and pre-recorded sermons, depending on what your team can manage and what best suits your congregation. But regardless of the route you take, you’ll want to make sure that you approach the at-home audience as one that you are actively speaking to. Even in pre-recorded settings.
Here are the main benefits to each approach:
- Pre-recording: You can refine the end product or have re-takes which will ultimately offer a higher production value. It is easier to add slides or other graphic elements. Recordings are available at any time to your congregation once you are ready to share. For your recording you should include calls to action, so the remoteness of a recording still offers a bridge to connect.
- Live Streaming: You can interact with the audience and allow them to interact with you; the setting is more intimate; the notifications reach more of your followers. Speak to your online attendees and ask for responses in the chat.
Regardless of the option you choose, consistency is key. Hold to a regular schedule that your attendees can rely on.
Create community even with pre-recorded videos
If you create a Facebook Group for your church, you can pre-release your sermon video early and schedule a watch party. This solution takes some of the live pressure off you while getting people together to watch and react to the sermon virtually. If you go this route, you will want to be sure to participate in the comment thread as well.
This feature allows viewers to experience a pre-recorded video as if it were live. You can use this for any pre-recorded video uploads, and it is not as necessary to do this within a Facebook group. This does eliminate the opportunity to be as engaged in the chat.
Set the environment
So where will you live stream your sermon from? There are three main areas (plus one bonus) that most people choose. And since there benefits to all, you can opt for the environment that most suits your personality and your congregation.
- The pulpit: Feels like and looks like church. This can be an opportunity to help your online attendees feel more comfortable with the digital experience. The pulpit can limit your mobility if you have a desire to move around but want to make sure you stay on camera.
- A studio: Optimised for lighting and sound, a studio takes the production value up a notch.
- Your home: Creates an intimacy that is lacking from digital experiences.
- Mix it up: Keep things interesting by finding unique spaces to deliver your message, maybe even themed. This is something that can include outdoor live streaming of sermons set in unique and historic sites. You’ll want excellent mobile technology for something like this, and a good partner who is willing to go on the road a bit with you.
Keep it concise for live streaming sermons
Regardless of where or how you record or live stream your sermon, timing is of great importance. Long sermons typically don’t retain audience attention as well as shorter ones. The reality is we are not as engaged with video as we are in person, so we typically lose focus on longer content.
Think about how you engage with video content online. How likely are you to click that video that is an hour and 20 minutes over the one that is only 15 minutes? If you have a long message to deliver, consider breaking it into two or three parts, as a series, rather than attempt to engage a video viewer for a long period of time. Small, digestible chunks of content win out almost always over longer form content online.
For more tips, check out other articles about live streaming on the blog or delve into our Learn modules.