6 Ways to Maximize Church Stage Announcements

Inside the church (internally), stage announcements are a constant battle. The people programming services, who are in charge of the flow of services, are constantly asking:

Do we really have to do announcements?

When can we do announcements so it doesn’t mess up the flow of worship?

Is it worth it since people aren’t even listening to the announcements?

Make no mistake, announcements are extremely hard. As a communications professional, I know firsthand the challenges posed by announcements. Yet when I sit in church and somebody says the word announcements (“I have a couple announcements for you this morning…”), my mind automatically checks out.

It always leads me to wonder:

How can we better maximize this stage time when we’re announcing what is going on inside our church?

What can we possibly do to take full advantage of having the attention of all these people?

In answer to those questions, here are six ways you can capture people’s attention and maximize stage announcements on a Sunday morning.

1. Follow the 80% rule.

When you’re deciding what you're going to communicate from stage, unless it's an abnormal situation, you want to ask yourself: Does this impact 80% of the audience sitting inside our worship center? If the event, ministry, serving opportunity or message does not impact 80% of your audience, then you do not want to dedicate stage time to it.

Remember you only have an hour or so of people’s attention a week.

2. Lead with “the why”.

I see this all the time with church leaders. They stand on the stage and start rambling about the what, when and how of an event, ministry or message. They throw out words, dates and times, and people turn their ears off because it doesn't capture them.

The why is also the perfect opportunity for you to tie a life-change story to an event, ministry or serving opportunity. If it’s a teen event you’re promoting and you’re telling them the why, throw in a story of a young person who was changed by this event. That will propel and lift up the message to make it much more effective.

3. Keep clear and concise.

As the person responsible for picking who will do the announcements, it’s important that you provide the announcer with a script. You are the communication leader. Your team needs to write the script with the why, when, where and how. And you need to help the announcer rehearse and practice – not to be perfect – but to move on and be clear and concise.

4. Revitalize your presenters.

Don't use the same rotation over and over again. Eventually, people will hear that person and begin to tune out. You want to keep things fresh. I recommend that you get really creative in this area. For example, use children and students that you have trained, taught and practiced to do the announcements alongside an adult.

You can even video the child or student doing the announcements. That way you can edit and add music. Another idea is to use Skype and pipe in missionaries from around the world to give the announcements. Do whatever you can to revitalize the presenters, mix it up and catch people’s attention.

5. Play background music.

I’ve seen music used in church announcements very effectively. It helps keep the flow and energy of the room up – especially if you’re coming out of a song or you’re moving into a song. It keeps things smooth and natural. People are used to listening to individuals speak in movies, shows and YouTube with music in the background. It makes the message more engaging and exciting.

6. Rotate the way you communicate.

You have this announcement time and you can use it however you choose. It’s not restricted to the normal person standing up there for 5-10 minutes rambling on without anyone actually hearing then. You can use this time and space in countless different ways.

You can use a live person on stage. You can use a prerecorded video to communicate your announcements. You can do it in print, where one Sunday you simply print out the announcements and place them in every seat.

While announcements may not seem like a big deal (the common thinking is, “it’s only 5-10 minutes inside a service”), you have to recognize you only have an hour of people’s attention. Even then, you really don't have their full attention every minute.

Lead with the why, be fresh and creative, and make sure you maximize this time using the tips above.

Create A Yearlong Communications Plan

In work, as in life, it can be tough to plan ahead. With all the concerns of day-to-day operations, it’s difficult to stop and look at the bigger picture. But in order for an organization to be successful, a strategic communications plan is essential. Having a plan gives your organization intention and purpose. It enables you to save time and gain ground on initiatives, rather than jumping from project to project and hustling to stay ahead.

Here are five tips for creating an annual communications plan for your church:  

1. Define Messages –

Using your churches mission as a basis, identify the messages you want to communicate throughout the year. Don’t make your final list too long. Select three to five key messages. Make them narrow and focused. This is what you want to communicate about your church.

2. Identify Audience –

Once you clearly define what you want to say, the next step is identifying who you want to say it to. Spend time researching demographics, interviewing audiences and conducting surveys. Figure out the social environments your audience interacts in and how they prefer to communicate with organizations.  

3. Capture Goals –

You know what you want to say and who you want to say it to. Now determine how you want to go about transferring your message to your audience. Devise projects and initiatives to execute throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to be creative and ambitious with your goals (while still making them attainable).

4. Maximize Budget –

Don’t let your budget determine your communications. Your communications should drive your budget. Gather pricing estimates in advance. Thoroughly account for every potential expense. Need additional budget dollars? Quantify the return on investment of your efforts so you can justify them to leadership.

5. Create Collectively –

Don’t go it alone when creating your communications plan. It should be a collective effort. Bring in key members of your organization from different teams or departments. Include local experts and audience members. The more input you receive, the more weight your plan will hold moving forward. Effective communications are based on strategy. Give your organization a leg up in the New Year by developing a plan for achieving your communication goals. As Basil S. Walsh once noted: “If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you expect to get there?”

8 Keys to a Great Church Website

With over 500 million registered websites on the WWW, you can definitely find a slew of horrifically designed websites. Unfortunately many of those websites are faith-based organizations. Please recognize that we live in 2010 and the Internet provides unlimited ways to communicate and connect to potential audiences. The website you form could be and should be your number one communication tool. With that rant over, here are 8 keys to have a great website. Get after it!

1) Don’t be cheap

In most cases, it is extremely difficult to build an effective website with not spending money. Sure, you can find a template and make it work (if you are skilled), but your church is not a template. If you are going to bust your budget, bust it here.

2) Take your time

Slow down and take a deep breath. Before you embark on creating a website, set aside a day or two to think, research and meet with people to understand what the website needs to look like and offer.

3) Use experienced and proven professionals

I am all for volunteers and lay people using their skills and talents to impact the church, but this may not be the place for their volunteerism. Again, your website is one of, if not the most important communication tool you possess. Use people who know what they are doing and provide great work.

4) Tell your story

Communicate, communicate and communicate some more your story. Who you are? What you do? Where you’re going? Tell the story with stories, pictures, videos, etc.

5) Relevant content and design layout

People are visiting your website on purpose. Take time to think through what your audience wants to receive instantly when visiting the website. Make sure to use words that are familiar with non-church attendees. Use Adults, Children, Students, Volunteer instead of Community, Zoola Land, Xtreme X and Engage. Please keep your content and design layout simple and provide people what they want with one click away from homepage.

6) Be known

The worst thing in the world is to have beautiful website and receive no visits. If search engines don’t know you, nobody will. Take some time and explore your options. They are unlimited, from search engine optimization campaigns to Google ads to Facebook ads. Optimizing your website and managing ad campaign is insanely time consuming. This is another area where hiring experienced and proven professionals are a plus.

7) Socially connected

With social media moving at a rapid growth pace, your website must be connected to the movement. Make it easy for people who visit your website to connect with you socially. But please make sure that well designed and high-resolution social icons are used in designed. Enough with highly pixilated and over sized icons!

8) People click on videos

It’s amazing how a video can inspire people more than words. Don’t get me wrong, words are great as I am typing them right now. But, in our digital age people like clicking on videos. i.e. – YouTube. If you cannot produce a ton of videos then make sure you do one great church overview video. This overview video must include the vision and mission of church and should include information on age specific ministries and what your church is doing to bring hope to world.