Whether to shoot video isn't a legit question anymore

You may not want to make videos or even like making them. Like it or not, you can’t afford to not use this important media tool.  Photo by Jakob Owens, Unsplash.
You may not want to make videos or even like making them. Like it or not, you can’t afford to not use this important media tool. Photo by Jakob Owens, Unsplash.

We get it. You may not want to make videos or even like making them. Like it or not, you can't afford to not use this important media tool. 

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Don't worry. You don't have to make a scripted pop-culture reference production. Nor do you have to spend hours editing video on your computer. 

Try using these simple tips to help you get started without sacrificing time or money.

Start with social in mind. Some church leaders think of video as only for use on a physical screen in the sanctuary during worship. Or in fellowship hall presentations. 

But best practice is to think of possible social media use first. That narrows the scope of your videos, making them more manageable. (Once finalized, you can always use the video for in-church/in-service purposes too.) 

Decide on your win. Before filming, decide on the purpose and goal for your video. In social media marketing, the common wins are awareness, promotion and shares — among others. For most churches, a typical goal is to convey information. While important, there are other out of the box options worth considering. 

An often overlooked win by churches is the chance to increase social followers. If your goal is to get information out to a larger audience, aim to grow the number of your followers. This frees you to create more inspirational than informational videos to encourage follows. Consider crafting a video with a superimposed quote, poem or interesting short story.

Another important use of video is to help people experience worship in your church. Those who visit a church will often check out its social media profile beforehand. Short worship service videos give prospective attendees a sense of what to expect.

Be sure to bring the SAS. The key to making social media video effective and manageable is focusing on the SAS: Simple and Short. You don't need endless title screens, transitions or crude attempts at special effects. With your win in mind, record a simple video that captures the most important element clearly. No frills, no explosions, just record your subject with a steady hand or tripod.

Short is key. The average viewing time of a video on Facebook is 18.2 seconds. This means there's no time to waste in introducing and addressing the goal before losing people. Don't bury your point. Trim extraneous information from the beginning so that your video remains focused.

Make it visually interesting. Get creative and stage your video. Avoid the commonplace, or strive to make the common more interesting: If you must film someone standing in front of a wall while making an announcement, move the subject to stand before a brightly colored wall. 

  • If you're recording a song from Sunday morning worship, don't film from the balcony; instead, film from up close, choosing a striking angle
  • Reveal important information in a series of posters, recording the reactions to each idea through audience expressions rather than words.

Pay attention to the audio. Always perform a soundcheck to ensure the best possible audio. Record a short video, and listen through headphones for sound quality. Often, adjusting the distance or angle you are from the subject (or an air conditioner) can make all the difference in the world. If you want to take your video to the next level, add an external microphone.

Use what you have. One of the biggest barriers to video is that people assume they need a better camera or high-end editing app. Many of us already have a relatively good camera for filming in our smartphones. Your smartphone really is all you need to get your videos online. Many of the tips that help you take better photos with your smartphone can also help you improve your videos.

Video is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture is worth millions. It can convey an unlimited range of moods to communicate your message.

After you've gone through the guidelines above, it's time for you to start creating video content. These tips can help get the most out of your online videos (full worship services and bake sales included).

Looking for complimentary video training? Sign up for United Methodist Communications' Sharing Your Church Through Video online course.

Jeremy Steele

Jeremy Steele is the teaching pastor at Christ UMC in Mobile, Alabama, as well as a writer and speaker. You can find a list of all his books, articles and resources for churches, including his most recent book All the Best Questions, at his website: JeremyWords.com.