10 simple ways to use media to engage your students

1. Keep it consistent.  Develop a theme, color scheme and a simple font (and maybe one or two secondary fonts that are more youthful) and keep using them for the entire school year or longer.  Think about a company with great branding.  They sometimes use the same fonts, colors, style and wording for decades.  Every time you produce a flyer, slide, video or something for your website or social media, it should have the same look and feel.  Spend some time on the front end developing a great brand and all of your design decisions for at least the next year are already made for you.

2. Documenting your ministry. Ask a student or volunteer who is good with a camera (or iPhone) to take pictures of a typical gathering. Keep that stock of images to pull from for info walls, promo cards, social media posts, website, announcement slides, etc. I do this about every 3-6 months which saves me so much time when I need a photo. Students feel included when they see you using a photo of them.  Animoto is a great website for creating dynamic photo videos for countdowns or event recaps.

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3. Produce stuff that will not BECOME DATED! Anytime you create a slide, flyer, or video, think about ways to make it usable multiple times. Sometimes it’s as simple as designing a single banner to say “next Saturday” for a monthly event or creating a video for an entire series rather than just for one message.

4. Keep your media “bite-sized”.  Teenagers, young adults, and pretty much anyone who uses a computer are getting more and more used to 10 second videos, 140 character tweets and articles that are written in list form. The shorter your media is, the more likely it is to be viewed and have the ability to impact the viewer.   We usually keep videos to 3 minutes or less and we bullet point posts to make them ideal for a quick scan.

5. ALWAYS add a picture to your post! Posting about an event you’re excited about? Add a photo of you and the team planning it or beginning to set up.  Stoked about a crazy video or skit that’s happening tonight in your gathering?  How about posting a photo teaser this afternoon of the video set or your costume?

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6. Photo shoots to promote. You could spend hours trying to design a promo card that’s going to look cool enough for students to hand out to their friends – one that is going to perfectly capture the mood, feel, and purpose of your upcoming event. But if you’re not a great designer (or maybe even if you are), think about whether a themed photo shoot or some funny memes might get more shares than your nicely designed and printed flyer.  Grab your most extroverted leader, a costume, some props and an iPhone, head to a youthful room in your church with lots of color and natural light and start snapping photos.

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7. The senior guy strategy.  If you have a wide range of ages in your ministry, always aim your theming towards the oldest male in the room.  If it’s cool enough for a senior guy, the 6th grade girl is probably going to like it too.  But aim for the 6th grade girl and the senior guy is going to feel like this is a gathering for little kids.

8. Nix Flyers forever.  Instead, consider attaching your info to something wearable, like a wristband, hawaiian lei, or a simple printed label that you stick to each student’s shoulder as they leave.

9. Switching live elements to a video can help you be more intentional about what you present to your students.  It can also give you so much more flexibility and help you with transitions in your gathering.  Kicking a gathering off with a video gives it a powerful start, gets your students quiet and seated, and sets the tone for the whole gathering.  We do an intro video at the beginning of almost every gathering.


10. Don’t be intimidated by video. A few quick tips can really help you elevate your video production quality.  For years we used iPhones and got great results, as long as we had the right lighting.  If you’re indoors, lots of natural light is ideal. Try to have light coming from 3 places (one from the right, one from the left, and one from behind to give some contour to hair and shoulders.)

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If you’re outdoors, overcast is best.  Use 2 camera angles for variety and so that you can switch from one angle to another when your communicator messes up.  Take the first half of their paragraph from camera angle 1 (take 1) and the second half from camera angle 2 (take 2) and it will look like it’s all one take. You can even fake a second angle by just switching between a zoomed in frame and a zoomed out frame.

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