At Highlands, we believe giving service attendees a break from the traditional on-stage announcement of upcoming events is a welcome change to the Sunday routine! We have found that an upbeat and energetic announcement video will keep people engaged and from playing on their phones after praise and worship. Over the years we have found that there are a few key elements to making the most of an audience’s attention span through effective script writing and shooting
Here is our anchor style format:
1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Who are you writing this script for? What language would most appeal to him or her? When you understand that, the entire announcement process becomes easier. At Highlands we have found that, what works best for us is to keep the tone friendly and upbeat. I like to advise our on-screen talent to think about how they would communicate with someone visiting their home for the first time. You would be as welcoming, energetic, and engaging as possible to help them feel more comfortable.
2. WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY?
What is the average age of a first-time attendee? What about the service as a whole? Keep that target age group in mind when writing your announcements. What format or tone would most appeal to them? Is it humor? Spontaneity? Routine?
3. WHEN In DOUBT, KEEP IT OUT.
Announcements that are too long become boring. Keep interdepartmental announcements within those areas, and Sunday-morning announcements to those things that only apply to Sunday morning visitors or members. For example, we try to only announce four main things: our Growth Track, small groups, connection/pastoral care cards, and special events (such as church-wide conferences or special guests). We do not announce the upcoming nursery/preschool picnic or visiting the Info Desk if you lost your car keys.
4. DID WE SAY KEEP IT SHORT?
You really want to avoid information overload. A good solution for this is to capitalize on your website as an information reference point. If we are running out of time on a script, we just push people to visit our website or connect on social media for more info.
5. SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN.
We keep our categories of announcements consistent, but the way we present it varies. For example, we keep a rotation of 3 anchors and we change the wording and presentation of topics that the audience has heard over and over again. Or we will take on a Creative challenge and produce a promo video that is completely off-script of the news. These take the form of testimonies during worship that point to a small group or event as well as silly videos after the news that point to another ministry or event happening in the church.
For those of you advanced in your announcement repertoire, and as a reward for reading through all of the above, below is a list of some frequently asked questions about our Highlands News announcement process.
Do we give our talent a script to memorize?
Do you change the format if you have multiple services?
No, however we do change our content for the morning and evening services. For example, our Growth Track events occur on Sunday nights, so our Sunday night version of Highland News announces next week’s events.
Where is the best location to shoot video announcements?
We have found that an indoor or outdoor setting is great as long as it is quiet and is well lit. We usually just set up one 4x4 chimera for bounce and a light scrim on the other side. Use natural light to your advantage. The Studio is great too, but week to week it can be boring. We also try to find an environment with a lot of depth in our background. Hallways and large opening are great. Never shoot up against a wall or just out in a field, give the audience something to look at on screen so their eyes don't wander too far from your subject.
How do you pick who should be on camera? Do you use the same person/anchor every week?
Lately we have been trying to vary the person we use on camera in order to keep the visual of our announcements fresh. When finding someone for your on-screen talent, look for people who are outgoing, comfortable speaking on camera, and passionate about being part of a video experience... and they have to be able to read.
**PS- Do not choose people who want to use this as an opportunity to promote their blossoming film career or next season’s role as The Bachelorette.
How did we know this was the best announcement format for us?
There is no other way to say it other than you will sense when video announcements are right for you. Make it a matter of prayer and pray before your filming process begins. Also, if your audience as whole seems engaged in the announcement process, you are on the right track.
How long do you want to keep your video announcements?
Our news announcements normally last at most a minute and a half. If there is an extended video in the news, it could last three minutes. With the opener and news we usually keep it around 3 minutes, sometimes we will throw in a funny video to promote something and make it a bit longer.
Where do we play the announcements in a service?
We like to show our video announcements after we have had praise and worship, and our Senior Pastor has welcomed everyone to the service. It follows the typical sunday morning meet 5 people//handshake//hug//greet time. It serves as a nice video transition from the announcements to our video opener for the current series which leads straight into the message.
News is easily one of the most important things we do week to week. It is something that everyone sees and it is an opportunity for us to make and even better impression on a newcomer. We want it to be professional and fun. A breath of fresh air compared to the way people are used to getting church news. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Feel free to download a copy of one of our scripts and take a look at it for yourself. The talent may not read this verbatim. We like to let them read it the way it feels most natural for them to say it.
Check out our gear page to learn more about what cameras and audio equipment we use for news.