Part 2 - Tips for presenting well in a video

Updated: Mar 30

Over the last 10 years our church has been producing short 5 minute videos that we use in our small groups so have learnt some lessons about producing video content.

We’ve taken the chance to provide some help cross the following areas in 4 separate posts to try and fast track your set up.


1. Live streaming tech options for small churches

2. Tips for presenting well in a video (this post)

3. What engagement metrics matter for church content online

4. Ideas on adding creative content to your live stream service

When your church is first jumping online, you may get some good engagement as they are curious to see what is happening. However stats show that consumers have a low tolerance for poor quality streaming, meaning they may only last 90 seconds before switching off. This post then is about helping you keep your congregation stay engaged online for longer – especially if self isolation goes on for many months.

1. Stay looking at the camera

If you ever watch a TV journalist, they are taught to look straight at the camera - all of the time. For the viewer this gives a sense you are keeping eye contact and is easier to engage with . It's easier said than done, particularly given some phones and video conferencing software put up an image of you talking. If you are looking at this rather than the camera, the viewer will feel like you are looking past them – so keep looking at the camera lens (and remember to blink).

2. Stay you natural self

When we are talking on video, it's easy to speak differently and concentrate so much that you lose your usual facial expressions. Take a few deep breaths, smile and be yourself. If you can pretend you are in a conversation with your best friend, that will come out more naturally. Try to avoid getting monotone, take pauses and remember to smile.

3. Get ready for no audience interaction

If you’ve not done a lot of video or radio work, this can take a while to get used to. We are relational beings so a lot of our response comes from the energy and interaction with an audience. If you make a joke - no one is laughing, if you make a great point - no one is agreeing, so consider how you are going to keep your energy up (and natural) to keep people engaged.

4. Watch yourself back

When I first started public speaking I used to use the word “OK” a lot. It wasn’t until someone was brave enough to point that out and I listened back to a message that I noticed - and it was so distracting. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback for the sake of improvement, take a slice of humble pie and watch back some of what you create to see it for yourself.

5. Create the atmosphere of your set

In church over the years there has been a lot of effort go into creating the right atmosphere of worship. Whether that is from previous generations of stained glass windows or more recently our stage setting, room temperature, seating layout and more. I think we can take this level of excellence into thinking about the environment around us when we record and be intentional about your set composition. This can be really simple but just needs to be thought about.


There are few things to consider here. The first is where are you positioned in the set as the speaker. Check out the rule of thirds – the simplest rule in composing a set. You need to line your eyeline up to the one of the top two third intersections. Trust me – it will just look better.


Think about what you want in the photo. If you are in your home what furniture, plants, books etc will work for you and your audience. If you are outside consider the placement of grass, trees, water etc

Next think about the leading lines that are created in your set. Whether we like it or not lines that are created by a table or a horizon in our set either attract or detract the viewers experience. A horizon line, or window frame that cuts through the head of the presenter is very distracting. Alternatively you can use intentional lines to point them towards something. Read here to understand this in more detail.

Finally make some small improvements in your lighting and audio set up which I've put as a section in its own right.

6. Try to improve lighting and audio

To get the lighting right quickly – just make sure there is more light behind you than there is in front of you. You can achieve this if you record during daylight hours and use a window – this is a good video to help with that. You want to make sure your audience can se your face clearly, engage with your emotions and not be distracted with shadows.

Audio is ok direct from your phone but a small improvement here goes a long way to improve the quality of the video. You can read about the affordable mic options we use to help with that here.

7. Record in landscape

If you are going to record on your phone – turn it on its side to the landscape angle. People are used to watching movies, tv and other online content in a wide format. If you record in landscape if someone watches on their phone either way round it will look fine. However if

you record in portrait and someone watches it on a laptop, TV or Facebook channel they will get the blurred lines at the side to fill in the space.


8. Get the video length right

The average video length on YouTube is 11.7 minutes. While a church service may go for 60 - 90 minutes you need to think about the right amount of time your online versions will go. It's harder to engage for long periods of time in this medium so reconsider what the run sheet of your livestream is going to look like.

9. Create calls to action

In our physical services we would often create space for people to respond to what the message has been about. For your online services we need to think about the same thing, just in a different way. If people were going to do one thing as a response to your video content, what would you like it to be? This could be jumping in an online prayer room, filling in a form, registering for another online event etc. This is important to get right in preparation for our post on engagement metrics and you might get some ideas from our creative content post.

So with all that said – we’ve done that won’t be perfect but tries to take into account what we’ve been talking about.



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