How to deliver live announcements / by Ben Stapley

Announcements can be the lamest time during the service.  But they don’t have to be.  If you have great content and a great communicator, then the announcements can be a lively, worshipful and engaging element.  One of my other blog posts deals with crafting great content.  The information below deals with becoming a great communicator. 

Practice at home and at the venue – You want to familiarize yourself with the announcements so that you can present them from memory instead of reading off a script.  Practice at home so you know the content well enough that you won’t be thrown if your mic dies or a baby screams.  Practice at the venue so you can iron out any wrinkles before the service instead of during the service.  This will also familiarize you with your voice being amplified, lights in your eyes and landing your mark onstage.

Step up the energy level – Never match the crowd’s energy level.  Wherever their energy is, you want to raise it a notch. Just be mindful that if you raise it too much, you come off as manic.  

Be the most charismatic version of yourself – Think about when you had the whole dinner party leaning in for a story.  Or when coworkers lingered at the water cooler to hear the end of an anecdote.  Or when your whole family, jaded teenagers included, laughed at your jokes.  This is the most charismatic version of yourself, and this is the version you want on stage when communicating announcements.  I say the most charismatic version of yourself because you don’t want to be insincere.  People, especially millennials, easily sniff out insincerity and will be turned off right away.  So be yourself.

Last minute reminder – Whatever you might struggle with, remind yourself about it before you step on stage.  You might instinctively look at only one section of your auditorium – then remind yourself to scan the crowd.  You might be a fast talker – then remind yourself to slow down and ease the words out of your mouth.  You might naturally lack energy – then remind yourself to convey the importance of the announcements by amping up your tone and body language.  The last minute reminder I give myself is to smile and enjoy the experience.  I can easily default to conveying content instead of connecting with a crowd.  This last minute reminder helps me do both.

Connection over content – Ideally, presenters are going to connect with the crowd and convey the content.  But if you end up being weaker in one area, it should be content.  I would rather have a relatable presenter who flubbed a date than one that nailed the details while coming off as distant. The content should be available through a number of avenues - bulletin, information display, website, social media, etc.  But there is only one chance to connect with people about the content, so make it count.

No dead air time – Purposeful silence such as meditative moments send a theologically rich and contrasting message to our go-go-go culture.  But seconds of purposeless silence can feel like minutes and convey a lack of preparation.  It also can build up anxiety in the crowd as they wonder what’s happening next.  Tackle this problem by limiting pauses before the announcements.  The best way to do this is to get into position, front row of the auditorium or wing of the stage, so that you are ready to keep the service moving along.

Think through transitions – Transitioning into your announcements sets you up for success.  Transitioning out of your announcement sets up the next element for success.  Consider the tone of what is before and after, and try to match that tone to create a smooth transition.  Avoid redundancy.  If the worship leader just told a joke or referenced the weather, don’t do the same.  On the flip side, don’t conclude with a prayer if the pastor plans to open his/her message with one.  The best way to think through transitions is to talk through them.  Ask the person before you how he is going to end and the person after how he is going to begin.

Introduce yourself – Rick Warren once said, “You’re always preaching to a parade.”  Whether you are in an urban center with a transient working class or a rural setting with deep roots, there will always be new people in the audience.  Because of the influx of visitors to your church, you constantly need to introduce yourself.  Sharing your first and last name, along with a role you play within the church (teaching bible lessons with 5th graders, welcoming people through the Greeter Team, etc.) helps people connect to you before they learn from you.  Stating one of your roles also develops the value of service within your church.  If you’re going to state your titles as a staff member or volunteer, make sure it is tied to purpose.  Instead of merely saying, “I’m an Elder” say: “I am an Elder and I have the privilege of helping the church stay focused on its mission.”

Don’t omit the mission – The mission of your church should be mentioned at some point during your announcements.  This connects the dots between what the church is doing and why they are doing it.  This connection gives greater value to what is being announced by weaving in the bigger picture.