Visual Bootcamp: A Recap Post from ENGAGE Conference 2020

This session was presented by Carl Barnhill.  Carl is a creative entrepreneur, motion designer, and author. He is the Owner and Creative Director of [twelve:thirty] media, a company that serves churches and ministries all over the world through motion graphics content and church media coaching. Carl hosts the Church Media Podcast and is the author of The Ultimate Production Team Handbook. 

In his session, Carl offered practical suggestions for enhancing and strategically using screen visuals in three key areas:

    1.  Pre-service announcement slides

    2.  Creative countdowns

    3.  Welcome and stage announcements

Pre-Service Announcement Slides

There are five major ways to execute your pre-service slides:

    1.  Still slides that loop

    2.  Motion announcements

    3.  Video clips

    4.  Animated slides

    5.  A mixture of these

1. Still slides that loop

Most churches use looping still slides. Still slides are static graphics created in programs like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or your presentation software like ProPresenter, MediaShout, or EasyWorship.

Avoiding bad slide design is key. “I’m not a designer” is not an excuse for poorly designed slides. An abundance of resources exists to help anyone create effective slides. 

So, what makes an announcement slide bad?

    -  Poor font choice-- Fonts to avoid: Papyrus, Comic Sans, Bradley Hand, BrushScript, CurlzMT, Times New Roman, Vivaldi, Mistral, Impact, Stencil.

    -  Poor choice of photos or video-- a normal slide will be in a 1280x720 or 1920x1080 dimension size. If you try to use an image that is smaller than    that it will pixelate and look poor. Use high-quality photos from places like Unsplash or Pexels. You can find a more extensive list of high-quality photo sites at www.1230.media/monsterlist

    -  Poor layout

    -  Poor color choices

    -  Poor background choices

    -  Poor quality/resolution (don’t stretch images)

    -  Too much text

Here is an example of poor slide design:


The above image is pixelated and there is too much text.

What makes an announcement slide design good?

    -  Use current and easily readable fonts-- Use fonts like Gotham, Avenie, Colfax, Helvetica, Nexa Bold, Proxima Nova, and Uni Sans. 

    -  Use high-quality photos

    -  Work on your layout

    -  Use easily readable colors

    -  Keep text to a minimum

Here are a few examples of good slide design:



All of the above slides have minimal text, the layout is clean and readable, and the images aren’t pulled or stretched.

Make sure that you play slides in the resolution that you built them in. If you built them in a 1280x720 size, make sure the output on your presentation software is also set to 1280x720. This will help you avoid stretching your slides. 

2. Motion announcements

Motion announcements are self-contained videos that usually have the same beginning and end with a different announcement in the middle. The degree of difficulty for motion announcements is a little higher. A service like 1230 Media might be helpful for you. If you have people in-house who can do this, there are good tutorial sites like Linda.com that can help give your team a good idea of what to do. 

3. Video clips

You can use short B-Roll Video within your announcement loop to show the culture of your church. Promotional videos with or without audio can also be included.

4. Still or animated slides in your presentation software

You can produce still or animated slides in ProPresenter, MediaShout, or EasyWorship.

5. A mixture of these

Combine and utilize any of the above elements together. As you consider your layout, it may be best to place multiple motion graphics together in the presentation loop simply for the visual effect.

Countdowns

Don’t use countdowns that are more than 5 minutes in length. Use an announcement loop then switch to the countdown at 5 minutes. Be sure to include series branding in your countdown. If your church is in a series on relationships, use branding specific to that series in your countdown. 

Use the countdown time strategically. The entire screen doesn’t have to display your countdown timer. Put the countdown in the corner of the screen and utilize the rest of the screen with:

    -  Trivia-- For example, if you are doing a series on church identity use the countdown timer to display trivia about your church history. If you are doing a series or a sermon on a specific biblical figure, display trivia about that individual’s life.

    -  Stats/Did You Know?-- For a series on relationships, display stats about relationships, marriage, and divorce. For a series on a specific book of the Bible, display contextual or cultural information on the book.

    -  Quotes-- Display quotes from authors or leaders about the topic of the day or testimonial quotes from people in your church or community.

    -  Talking head moments-- Display a greeting from the pastor, a video of a staff member explaining a new ministry, or a short clip from a volunteer leader celebrating what God did at your last event or community outreach.

    -  Video announcements-- Drop these into the last few minutes of your countdown for people to see as they enter the worship space.

Welcome and Announcements

Announce from the stage only things that apply to 80% of your congregation. Carl outlined 6 principles to help structure your stage announcements:

    1.  Watch your words (don’t ramble)
-- practice and rehearse what you say to maximize clarity

    2.  Have a clear opener


    3.  Lead with your core values
-- connect your core values to an announcement

    4.  Tell me why


    5.  Have a clear call to action
-- limit one call to action to each welcome time. For example, encourage guest to visit the welcome center, direct the church to a website, text this word to this number to sign up for this event.

    6.  Have a clear close

You can use visual elements to enhance your welcome time, too. Props are an easy way to make welcome and announcement times memorable. Consider using photos from events, but make sure they are at least 1280x720 or be sure to use the “blurred approach.”


In the “blurred approach,” the photo is duplicated, scaled up in the background, and blurred in the background. A drop shadow is added to the image in the foreground. This can most easily be done in Photoshop.

You can also utilize “Soft Roll” footage. “Soft Roll” refers to video that is stand alone and can be faded in and out any time. Some examples might include footage of a visitor at your guest area, footage of a particular ministry event, or footage of your teams serving in the community. 

Slides can be repurposed for welcome and announcement times as well. As the host references a specific announcement, display the pre-service announcement slide as a visual. 

Provide specific ways for the congregation to interact on social media with your announcements. For example, set up a photo booth for Mother’s Day and ask people to use a specific #hashtag when they post their pictures. Ask people to post photos of people serving with a specific #hashtag.

Be interactive during your welcome and announcement time. Play a quick game with the congregation during the announcement time and utilize the screen. If you’re doing a series on family, play a quick Family Feud style game with audience members. If you’re doing a series on money, play a quick Price is Right game with audience members. Use game show intros or timers to make it more fun. 

Carl has made a free e-book available at www.1230.media/dictionary. “Production Dictionary” contains over 250 terms and phrases that are used in a worship experience in the media area. 

Visuals can be a tremendous enhancement to your worship experience if utilized effectively. Following the best practices outlined above can result in your church being more informed, better engaged, and more motivated to participate in ministries and events.