So you have been talking about live streaming at your church for a while now and have finally made the decision to get started. The responsibility falls on you, now you start to realize that everyone (inside and outside of the church) will be watching, and a little bit of panic starts to creep in. You want to make sure you give a great first impression but are a little overwhelmed by the different obstacles that live streaming presents.
Here is a checklist of tips to help make sure things go off without a hitch….or with as few hitches as possible.
TEST, TEST, and TEST AGAIN
This cannot be stressed enough. Don’t rush your first public live stream just because everyone wants to see how it looks. Very often we see churches get their equipment in on Thursday and rush to try to do their first public live stream on Sunday. While this can happen, it is not a good idea to make your first live stream public. Test it many times leading up to your service, and then run a private stream during your first real service with a few beta testers watching for you. This will allow you to see what obstacles may come up during the actual service times.
DEDICATED EQUIPMENT AND INTERNET FOR STREAMING
Imagine this scenario. You are using a computer to live stream with, and after testing multiple times during the week, you have your settings dialed in and things are set up for a seamless Sunday morning. You show up an hour before service to find that all of your settings have been changed and you have to start over. We see this happen often. That is why we recommend the computer or hardware used to live stream is dedicated to the live streaming system and not used for other tasks. Equipment such as a laptop or a device like the churchstreamer have become inexpensive in the past few years and allows almost any budget to afford dedicated equipment. The same advice goes for your internet connection also. If you have a robust local network, ask the IT person to prioritize the connection used for live streaming so that other traffic at the church does not interfere with it. If you have a small church with a single router, you may want to disable public wifi usage during the live stream or have your Internet Service Provider bring in a second connection that is only used for live streaming..
ASK THE AUDIENCE FOR FEEDBACK (BUT NOT WHILE LIVE)
Your best source of feedback is your online audience. You want to tailor your live stream to give off the same vibe as your live service does. Remember that you can’t please everyone, but you can use their feedback to make sure you are creating the look and feel that is best for your church. Just make sure you don’t ask for this feedback during the live stream. If you are using a chat box or social feed with your live stream, asking for feedback during the live stream may create a negative situation that interferes with the online worship.
USE CLOSE UP SHOTS OF EVERYONE
As tech enthusiasts, we all want to have the perfectly framed camera angles and a very professional looking broadcast. However, we can tend to get caught up in trying to make things perfect and sometimes forget that a church broadcast should be different than a sporting event or concert. The viewers want to be part of the service the same way they are when they attend. They want to see more than just a stage and a speaker. Don’t be shy about having close up shots of the speaker and of the congregation. Bring the shot back and let them experience it through the eyes of someone on the back pew. Then zoom in and let them see the speaker just like someone sitting in the front. If available, have a camera on the side or in the front that gives them a view of the congregation and cut to it every now and then. The point is to help them get the feel of what it is like to be attending. They will thank you when they attend a service.