Whether you work for a business or a non-profit organization, you have a message you need to communicate. Finding ways for people to hear to your message isn’t really that difficult. With enough money, you can buy plenty of ads that will raise awareness about your message. However, just because people hear your message doesn’t mean they’ll actually engage with it. Money can buy ads, but no amount of money can buy voluntary user engagement.

Having worked in churches for the past 12 years, I believe we have the most engaging message to communicate ever! Unfortunately, it’s not always communicated that way. In fact, sometimes the way the American church communicates it’s message is just downright embarrassing and even discredits our message. They usually mean well, and some churches are getting better, but like almost every other business and organization, we’re still largely experimenting and learning new things about communication and engagement every day.

I started experimenting with online video in 2006, mostly on YouTube. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about how video works, how it communicates, and how it has the potential to engage an audience unlike any other medium.

Here are some ideas of what I’ve learned works best for communicating in a church ministry context and how it can also apply to your business.

1. Use Video To Make Announcements

I used to stand in front of the congregation and share the church’s announcements about programs and events happening during the week. Unfortunately, no matter how energetic and creative I was, people gave me a blank stare or, at best, a polite smile that said, “I’m looking at you, but I’m really thinking about this afternoon’s football game.” Most people left the service 45 minutes later not remembering a thing I said.

However, if I said the exact same thing on a big screen, everyone is glued to it! In fact, one Sunday the congregation even gave the announcements video a voluntary applause! A year later I’m still hearing comments from people who remember the announcements from that week.

It’s clear that video announcements engage our audience so much better than verbal announcements or printed material, especially with our teenagers. Our youth ministry’s news videos are viewed on YouTube and download in iTunes by many more teenagers than we even have participating in our church! It’s become a great way to spread our church’s message outside the walls of our building and engage with people in our community.

In order to make the announcement videos as effective as possible, I’ve learned that it’s best to keep them short (under 3 minutes), to film each news item on-site of wherever the announced program or event will take place, pull in other people, and to add value to the video with a bit of creativity.

Video for your business

Consider shooting an announcement video to communicate with your employees and clients. Include with your next mass email. It doesn’t have to be a fancy video. Even a 30-second clip of you speaking to your webcam giving some of the quick headlines of what you want to communicate is a great place to start. Actually, that’s where I started.

2. Use Video Teasers As An Introduction

Some churches create short 30-second videos to introduce that week’s sermon. It quickly helps people focus and sets the context for the message that’s about to be delivered. It also serves as a teaser on the church website about what guests can expect that Sunday at their church.

Video for your business

Open your next staff meeting with a short video that helps people focus on the main agenda item. It quickly draws people in and it may even help spark creativity, too.

3. Use Video To Tell Stories

Churches should have more stories of amazing life-change than any other organization out there. Those stories are often encouraging, inspiring, and motivating for those who hear them.

In my church, we take one Sunday service a year to do nothing but hear faith-stories from our teenagers. It’s been great for teens to share their stories on video because it helps calm a lot of their nerves, thus their stories are often intimate and personal. The impact of hearing someone share their heart and struggles is extremely engaging! Video helps us craft the story well.

We also share stories of various programs in our church, what they’re doing in people’s lives and how others can become a part of it. For example, right now we have a team of people serving in Haiti. When they return next week we’ll use their video footage to not only raise awareness about the need there, but also to help people here engage with the need by going down there on our church’s next trip.

Video for your business

Gather some video stories from people who are engaging with your company. Have them share not only about your service or product, but how it’s making a difference in people’s lives. Be genuine about it, though — we can easily tell if it’s just another promotional video.

In fact, if your company is truly making a difference, there’s probably some people out there who would be willing to create and promote the video on your behalf.

4. Welcome Guests With A Video

Churches can unfortunately be pretty intimidating to someone who hasn’t attended one before. When we added a video on our website of our church’s pastor welcoming people and sharing a bit about us, it helped break some ice with some potential church visitors online. Not only did they see a face they knew to look for when visiting the church later that week, but they were able to hear some of the personality behind it. They also saw shots of our service in action and got a feel for what the atmosphere is like. All of this can be extremely helpful in easing the nerves of a new-comer feel even before they even enter the doors of our church.

Video for your business

People connect better with a personality than they do with your logo. Add a video to your website of someone in your company sharing a bit about your company’s vision. Don’t make it a marketing spiel — just share your heart. We all value authenticity, especially in video.

About Our Expert Guest – Tim Schmoyer
Tim Schmoyer blogs at Life In Student Ministry where he often shares what he’s learning about online video as a communication and engagement tool. You can see some of his videos on his YouTube Vlog Channel and his new YouTube Student Ministry Channel.