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Four Critical Details For Multisite Preaching

The MultiSite Guy, Jim Tomberlin, recently said “The multisite movement began as a radical idea, became the cool idea and now is the mainstream idea.” Indeed, multisite is quickly becoming the new norm for growing churches. And video venues are becoming a well-defined, but often misunderstood strategy in today’s church.

Some attendees might say, “I won’t like a video venue because I want to be in the same room as the preacher.” Point well taken. Sometimes a poor video venue experience can be a turn off. But in a well done video venue, people will get past this potential road block very quickly.

multisite preaching_1I worked in an environment where the video venue experience was done so well that newcomers often wanted to chat with the Preaching Pastor after the service. The Campus Pastor would have to remind the guest that the Preaching Pastor was at a different facility, 15 miles away! The experience was so non-distracting that the newcomer had completely forgotten he was in a video venue. That’s the kind of experience we should shoot for. It takes effort, intentionality, practice, and often money, but it will be well worth it.

When it comes to creating an excellent, distraction free, video venue experience, the old adage is true: “The devil is in the details.” (Unfortunate choice of words, yet still true.) Since it’s the little things that often set poor experiences apart from great ones, here are four critical details that will make all the difference in your video venue experience.

Staging
Make sure the staging at the video venue matches the staging at the broadcast venue. This will bring continuity to the experience.

Also it’s helpful to have two video feeds being broadcast at the video venue. One full body shot on a center screen at stage level. This will look like the Preaching Pastor is in the room. The second shot should be an upper third shot of the Preaching Pastor shown on the side screens.

Language
Eliminate references to a specific time of day. Exclude phrases like “this morning”, or “this evening”. Instead, substitute the more generic, “today.” Instead of “good morning”, try “welcome!”

Also, acknowledge and welcome those viewing from a video venue or those watching online, but then don’t mention it again. It’s fine to recognize the video venue, but don’t dwell on it.

Movement
If you are preaching from a broadcast venue, realize you are on camera. The only people who are looking at you are the folks in the first ten rows. About 90% of those in attendance are watching the screens.

Never pace. Even if that’s your “style.” That’s why they put an “X” on the floor where talk show hosts are to stand. Pacing doesn’t broadcast well. However, intentional movement is ok. Move to the teaching screen and stay there a while. Or sit down at a stool for a few minutes and tell a story or make a point from there. Then move back to center stage. Periodically shift your weight or a pivot a bit so you don’t look stiff.

Once I watched four sermons from multisite preachers at the same time (volume off) to compare what the “watching experience” was like. Some paced. Others had controlled and limited movement, but didn’t seem stiff. The pacers were difficult to watch. Those who limited their movements were much more watchable. So remember to limit unnecessary movement.

Focus
Pay attention to your focus. Don’t focus directly on people’s faces. This will appear that you are looking down, when viewed on screen. Also don’t focus directly into the camera. That’s just weird. The only exception is if you are welcoming your audience or if you are making a specific point. But do it sparingly.

Keep your focus up, toward the back of the audience, slightly above their heads. This is the most camera friendly shot. Remember, it’s not important who you are looking at. What’s important is for the people who are looking at you to see you clearly and for you to appear comfortable and relaxed.

Remember, your goal in multisite preaching: Make people at the video venues forget that they are at a video venue. Commit to excellence in your video venues and focus on these four critical details. It will make all the difference.

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