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Promoting church events used to be expensive. Even half-price ads on the newspaper church page, which not even the church people read, takes a chunk out of your wallet.
But because of technology and social media, all that has changed. For the better.
Now you can let people know about your upcoming church event in a fun, free way using the power of video. How do I know this? Because I did it recently for an upcoming event at our church.
Since it was so easy to do, I thought I'd pass along what I learned so you can use this info, too.
I called the sermon series "It's Complicated: What the Bible Really Says About Love, Sex & Relationships." To kick it off, we brought in Randy and Monica Zachary. They do a daily radio show out of Chico, California and conduct marriage and relationship workshops. They have an amazing story of God's redemptive power to heal broken relationships.
Instead of paying to advertise in local newspapers, I took a few minutes to record three short video interviews with Randy and Monica over Skype. We showed them in church on the Sundays leading up to the weekend they were with us. We uploaded the videos to our church website page, Facebook page, and Twitter account so church members could share them with others and help promote the weekend event.
Here's the second of the three videos we shot.
Click here to see the other two videos on my YouTube page.
All you need is a laptop with a camera and a broadband connection.
If you don't have a Skype account, go to Skype.com and follow the easy instructions. It's totally free.
Skype doesn't have a video record feature, but there are several programs that will help you do that. I use Evaer.com because it's free, fast, and easy. Go to Evaer.com and install its software. Then link Evaer to your Skype account, following this instructional video I found on YouTube.
Evaer is free as long as all the Skype videos you record are under five minutes. As you'll see below, that's all the time you'll need.
That's it. You're ready to record a Skype video!
(Editor's note: Google Hangouts on Air is available for free to anyone with a Google account. It allows you to set up a video chat and record it directly within your Google account. The video is automatically posted and fully editable through your Google/YouTube account.)
Keep the serious teaching for the sermon series or weekend of meetings. People don't watch serious videos. And if they watch them, they don't share them. This video is not the meat of your presentation, it's the sizzle.
The most-watched videos are all short. Long videos don't get shared. Long is fine if you want to record the event itself and put that on Facebook or YouTube. The point of this video is not to teach, but to promote. Keep it under four minutes. Under three is even better.
Take a few moments before shooting to make sure the audio and video are recording. Chat with the person you're interviewing about the type of questions you'll be asking, the time limit you're working with, etc. Don't over-prepare. You want it to feel fresh and unrehearsed.
I had three subjects I wanted to tackle with the Zacharys.
That would be too much to jam into one video, but it's just right for three videos.
One of the great things about the YouTube video era is that people don't expect a studio-quality recording of videos like this. In fact, they're less likely to trust something that looks too slick. But even with that, no one will watch if the picture is too pixelated or it freezes or jumps. So get the best high-quality broadband connection that you can. Even better, go old-school and plug your laptop in to your broadband router with an Ethernet cable. Have the interviewee do that on their end, too. We both did that for this video.
Any newer laptop can record good enough video for a three-minute YouTube video, but none of them have good sound quality. So I don't recommend using the mic on your laptop, if you can avoid it. It will catch background noise and some feedback, too.
In the video I shot, you'll notice that Randy and Monica, being on the radio every day, have a high-end radio boom mic. But you don't need that. Just grab any set of earbuds that have a mic attachment. If you own an iPad or iPhone, you have one already. You can see mine hanging from my ear. If you don't have a mic, choose a quiet room, sit close to the laptop mic, and speak clearly.
If you minimize your Skype window in one corner of your screen, you'll have room for Evaer in the opposite corner. That will allow you to start and stop the recording seamlessly, while being able to glance occasionally at the Evaer timer. This screenshot shows you what that looks like.
(Editor's note: Google Hangouts on Air doesn't have a timer option, so you will need to have a clock nearby.)
The biggest mistake people make when recording video is holding the camera up-and-down. When you do that, it will play back in just the middle third of your screen. I know you won't be tempted to hold your laptop sideways, but this is an important enough principle to mention for all your video recordings. Always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS record sideways!
If you have a YouTube channel, upload your video there. (Google Hangouts On Air will do this automatically for you.) Use YouTube's "enhancements" feature to embed your church's website and any other needed info, as you can see in my video. Then share your YouTube video link wherever people will watch it.
If you don't have a YouTube account, upload the video to your church website, Twitter, and/or Facebook. I recommend YouTube because it's free and also has the ability to embed pop-ups and cut and paste the video to other venues.
Upload the videos a few weeks in advance and stagger their release, one each week.
Show them in church. Send them in emails. Encourage your congregation members to share them with their friends. When someone shares your video, they are far more likely to attend the event themselves and bring their friends.
Make sure to send the video link to your guest speaker and/or singer so they can share the video with their social media contacts.
And there you have it. Great church video promotion for your church event that's fun, easy, and free.
Our thanks to Lauren Hunter of ChurchTechToday and Karl Vaters for permission to reprint this piece. This article originally appeared in newsmallchurch.com where Karl Vaters is editor. He is the author of The Grasshopper Myth and pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California.
Images 1 and 2: ChurchTechToday
Video and Image 3: Karl Vaters